A Nielson report in 2016 showed that 88% of survey participants in Hong Kong had shopped in the past 12 months. As the Hong Kong ecommerce market continues to grow, we expect to see more and more brands open an online store as a way of providing a convenient channel to engage customers and encourage product discovery.
As an ecommerce agency, one of the questions that we get asked is what does it take to build a great ecommerce website? In our view, a successful ecommerce store offers much more than just a beautiful website. An ecommerce store starts with a website, but ultimately, it’s important to take into account the entire customer experience from the onsite buying experience to what happens after an order is placed.
Delivering a great customer experience for an online store includes paying attention to details such as fast website loading, appealing photos, informative product descriptions, seamless payment processes, efficient shipping and hassle-free returns.
Below is a guide on what we believe are essential elements to delivering a great ecommerce experience in Hong Kong.
Choose Mobile-Friendly Themes
Hong Kong’s mobile penetration rate is one of the highest in the world, with 7 out of 10 people using smartphones. According to Google’s Consumer Barometer, 89% of Hong Kong people use it equally or more often than desktops. In addition, a majority of shoppers do online research before making purchases. When setting up your online shop, look for platforms that have mobile-friendly / responsive themes that have smooth browsing on small interfaces.
An ecommerce platform such as Shopify offers responsive themes out-of-the-box that fit a variety of industry, product, or layout needs. For ecommerce Hong Kong merchants who want to offer English and Chinese website versions, using responsive theme templates helps ensure a consistent multi-language design. These themes provide elegant layouts, fluid navigation, and easy check-out systems for shopping convenience.
Invest in High Quality Product Photography and Descriptions
After choosing your ecommerce platform, it’s time to invest in your content — your product descriptions and images. Detailed descriptions and images help online shoppers understand what differentiates your product. Shoppers expect online stores to provide the same information they would need if they were shopping in-store, such as a product’s material composition, product sizes or measurements, accurate color samples, and benefits for a user.
Online shoppers also rely on high-resolution images to see the product as if they were in a retail store. We recommend taking individual product photos with bright lighting and simple backdrops (such as plain white) so that browsing visitors can quickly identify photo gallery items.
Once a shopper clicks into an item, they will want to see different angles of the product or zoom in to check pattern details. IKEA has furniture photos with items already placed inside cabinets or on shelves so shoppers can visualize arrangements in their home. For clothing, having an item on its own and on models will help people imagine its suitability as if they were in a fitting room. NIKE often provides an image zoom to show design details and materials of their products.
Make Convenience your Priority for Checkout and Payments
After a customer has finished shopping, make it easy for them to check out. According to an Econsultancy survey, 25.65% of abandoned carts (uncompleted checkouts) are due to login requirements. We recommend simplifying the checkout flow to one or two clicks, with minimal boxes to fill and a variety of payment options.
Some suggestions include:
Having a guest checkout option
Accepting HKD (or your local currency)
Using popular online payment options such as Credit Cards, Paypal, Alipay, Wechat Pay, Apple Pay, Google Pay
With new online payment gateways such as Apple Pay, your shoppers can make instant in-app or web store payments. Apple Pay customers have their information stored with Apple and only need to make a confirmation. You can also check this post for other ways to make online payments more customer-friendly.
Delight Customers with Free and Professional Delivery
An online shopper’s experience is not just about choosing an item and paying. Delivery and return options can affect purchasing choices. Online customers want to know what to expect after they have made an order. What are the delivery times, shipping fees (if any), and return policies?
For online shopping, customers often expect punctual free delivery. According to this test, free deliveries can yield up to a 15-30% improvement in net profit through more frequent and larger purchases. Merchants can make free shipping offers profitable by creating a minimum order amount or increasing product prices by a small margin to cover the additional costs.
Online shoppers also want a better-than-offline experience. In addition to free deliveries, some shoppers may prefer store pickup options or delivery to lockers.
Also, offering convenient returns or exchanges helps first-time shoppers try a new store because it lowers the risk of purchasing a “wrong item”. Zara Hong Kong collects return items from homes and ZALORA allows drop-offs at 7/11 or SF Express to provide maximum customer convenience.
Provide Offline Customer Service to Support your Online Business
A website is an online storefront and a storefront is backed by great service. A memorable shopping experience can include a pop-up greeting for people who enter your store or offering customer assistance channel for customers who need help.
Ecommerce platforms such as Shopify have customer service apps that can be added to a store. For example, consider offering a live chat service where you and your team can respond to customer inquiries from your desktop or mobile. Responsive customer service converts shoppers who may be frustrated or hesitant. We also recommend having FAQ pages and for Hong Kong shoppers, service hotlines in English and Chinese so customers can communicate in the language they are most comfortable with.
For example, 9to6Life’s online shop has an integrated live chat for shoppers who want immediate assistance. The chat box begins with a friendly invitation to ask any questions about products and has the customer assistants’ display photos to give a more personal feel.
Engage Shoppers and Build Community
Finally, shoppers rely on other shoppers for information. Someone may discover a brand through a friend’s shared post on Facebook. Once they are interested in a product, they will often turn to reviews to confirm that the item fits their needs. Help shoppers make decisions right away by building customer review integrations into your online shopping store and social sharing buttons for happy customers to share with their friends. In Hong Kong, HKTVmall gives shoppers confidence by showing reviews and ratings.
Ecommerce is no longer just an option for Hong Kong retailers. With 95% of people online every day, consumers are doing more and more shopping online. In addition to using the beautiful template designs and convenient app integrations on ecommerce technologies, we also encourage merchants to invest time into creating quality online copywriting, images, and service. The more convenient and delightful your shopping experience is for shoppers, the more likely they will choose to shop with you.