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Report: Unified channels key to engaging Hong Kong’s changing shopping habits

Technology offers brands an abundance of opportunities to engage with customers, but globally consumers still prefer going to physical stores. However, according to a global survey conducted by Wirecard, unified commerce is not only changing where and when consumers shop it is also changing how they do so.

The report includes findings from a study of 6,000 consumers in selected countries in Europe, Asia-Pacific, and the Americas. In Hong Kong, 75% of respondents said they preferred to purchase in-store over the past 12 months, while 59% said they would use mobile apps.

Hong Kong shoppers also combined online and offline channels during the buying process, with 98% saying they would research products online before buying them in the shops. Conversely, 97% said they would research products in the shops prior to buying them online.

Hongkongers also preferred using mobile apps (79%) to do research while in-store, compared to other methods such as online store websites, in-store screens, or VR booths.

As consumers search for a more unified shopping experience, brands that don’t offer options will lose out. According to the report, almost all (93%) of Hong Kong respondents said if a brand did not offer cross-channel purchasing options, such as buying online and picking up in-store, it would have some influence on their decisions to shop there.

Brands going online can enjoy other advantages. While brick-and-mortar stores rule in preference, how and when people find goods varies, with online browsing offering the most convenience. Consumers shop online the most often while they are relaxing (81%), watching TV (32%), or in bed (37%).

On average, Hong Kong consumers ordered products from foreign websites 16 times a year, the second-highest after Brazil (17). Reasons behind this phenomenon include the absence of preferred products in Hong Kong (59%) or lower prices (54%). But its worth noting that the majority of shoppers (98%) said the lack of a familiar payment method would heavily influence their decision to order products from a foreign website.

Similarly, payment methods also affected consumers’ other buying intentions. Half of the report’s Hong Kong respondents said they would be less likely to shop in a physical store if it did not offer ways to pay via their mobile phones, which matches up with the 53% who said they regularly used mobile wallets to pay. But while there’s still room for adoption there, nearly all (96%) respondents reported using cashless payment. Convenience (41%), speed (30%), and security (21%) were the main factors driving this preference.

“A lot of focus is put on pricing, but not necessarily on the flexibility customers seek. A unified commerce strategy, with a focus on a consistent and frictionless buying journey, is integral to offering consumers the experience they would expect from any modern retailer,” said Markus Eichinger, external vice-president of group strategy at Wirecard.

The report also includes insights into data. For example, 65% of Hong Kong shoppers were interested to use biometric data such as facial recognition and fingerprints to purchase products in-store and online. Consumers would spend an average of HK$125 more if the payment was authorised with biometric data compared to cashless payments that did not require authorisation.

“Retailers that want to engage with their customers via targeted offers and improve their service across all channels need to leverage customer data. If customers can see a concrete benefit when it comes to providing personal information, they are willing to share it with retailers, thus providing merchants critical data which they can analyse to optimise their offerings and improve customer loyalty,” commented Eichinger.

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