By 2020, ecommerce sales are estimated to reach $4 trillion according to eMarketer. Companies are no longer just marketing online: they are directly selling online.
The great news is that setting up your own branded online shop has never been easier. With solutions like Shopify, companies in Hong Kong can take advantage of established ecommerce platforms to build their online business.
What is Shopify?
Shopify is a global market leader powering over 500,000 businesses in 175 countries with an online storefront. The ecommerce platform has 1,000+ apps that cover a wide range of online selling needs, from reward programs and onsite SEO to inventory management and accounting. If you’re a looking to sell online, this post will discuss some of the essential considerations for businesses looking to open a Shopify store for the Hong Kong market, including:
Payment gateways options
Shipping and order fulfillment
Selling beyond Hong Kong
Multi-language Websites to Reach More Customers
When selling to Hong Kong consumers, businesses will likely think about Chinese and English language options. Depending on your product, offering a multi-language website may increase your addressable market in Hong Kong, which consists of 89.5% Cantonese speakers, 1.38% Putonghua speakers, 3.5% English speakers. In addition, other important factors for business includes a user-friendly and convenient platform to update website content and a professional design that looks equally appealing in different languages. If you are considering building a Chinese-language Shopify store, you can find out more here.
Shopify Capabilities and Options for Multi-language:
Although Shopify was designed for an English market, it is possible to build a store with both English and Chinese languages. There are a couple of existing options to achieve a multi-language interface on Shopify websites, including:
Use a multi-store approach
Use a third party app
A multi-store approach means creating a separate Shopify store for each language you want to display. For example, you could create three Shopify instances for English, Traditional Chinese, and Simplified Chinese respectively and map them to a common domain name so that the site appears as one consistent online shop to shoppers. The advantage in doing so would be to give you maximum design, content and language control over each of the stores. The trade-off, since these are separate sites, is that you’ll have to manage multiple Shopify stores and deal with the overhead that comes with data sitting across multiple stores.
Another option would be to use a third-party app that helps your store display multiple languages dynamically. You can search the app store for keywords like ”translate”or “language” to find a multi-language app. As translation apps have different pricing options, some may be more or less cost effective that subscribing to another store, but the big added benefit for some merchants would be the ability to display multiple languages within a single store. Langify is one of the more popular apps of this type on the Shopify App Store.
Considerations / Questions to Ask Yourself:
How much text and image content do you need translated regularly? Will you have a few permanent items or hundreds of unique products that need detailed descriptions and multi-lingual campaign banners?
How complex are your multi-language requirements? Is it simply site navigation and product content translation, or do you have images, videos and dynamic content that needs multi-lingual support?
Will the website content be updated frequently? Are items on your online shop always seasonal and will your product catalogue need to be updated frequently in multiple languages?
Payment Gateway Options
The payment gateway is one of the most important features of an ecommerce website. Since 2018, Shopify Payments has been available for Hong Kong merchants and supports payment in 15 major currencies. This means that shoppers in their home country, such as the United States, would see and pay in USD, you will automatically be paid in HKD (if that is your store default). Shopify also supports additional payment gateways as well as manual payments for your store (such as Bank deposit, cash, or gift card), and custom payments that you can set (such as PayMe or FPS). Payment gateways supported in Hong Kong include:
ePay / Payment Solutions
Mastercard Payment Gateway Services
Payment Express PxPay
PayPal Express Checkout
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Realex Payments (Offsite)
Check Shopify for the most recent list of supported payment gateways. Also note that Shopifycharges transaction fees for external payment gateways that vary according to the subscribed pricing plan. For merchants based out of Hong Kong, note that AliPay and WeChat Pay are important payment gateways. Shopify currently supports Alipay, but does not yet support WeChat Pay.
Evaluate and choose a suitable payment gateway before fully setting up your store
Check the costs, policies and practices for each payment gateway to see if they meet your business needs
Make sure the payment gateway you choose supports your business type.
Shipping and Order Fulfillment
Merchants on Shopifycan use third-party apps for logistics support and order fulfillment. For merchants that may be familiar with Amazon, Shopify does not directly offer a storage and fulfillment services such as Fulfillment by Amazon. Instead, merchants can choose from the platform’s rich APIs and third-party apps and integrations for their shipping and logistics needs. We encourage you to visit the Shopify App Store to look for tools that can help you save time on managing order fulfillment. As your business scales, you can also consider building custom integrations to suit your order management needs.
You can also learn more about how you can adapt your Shopify store to take information necessary for SF Express deliveries. Hong Kong businesses can also offer pickup options to EF lockers, SF Express service centres, convenience stores by using our app, HK Pickup Options, available in English and Chinese. You can choose from over 1000+ drop off locations with our 30-day free trial.
Considerations and Options:
How quickly do you anticipate yourself scaling? If your business is just starting out and you’re anticipating only a few orders, you can manually manage order fulfillment and update order statuses through your Shopify admin console.
Shopify is a cloud solution, which means data is stored and managed by Shopify. There are clear benefits such as not having to hire a dedicated IT team to manage your own infrastructure and security to run your online shop. With Shopify, if needed, you can export customer, order and product information out to your own systems. Note that merchants do not have a choice as to where the data in Shopify is stored. Businesses should evaluate whether or not Shopify’s data management policies are consistent with their own data management policies.
Using Shopify To Sell Beyond Hong Kong
While your initial focus may be on Hong Kong as a home market, having an ecommerce presence opens up possibilities to do business in other markets. Shopify is extensible to many countries, but merchants should note that one Shopify store can only bill in one currency. In order to bill in another local currency, merchants need to set up another store for the specific target market.
While billing in a single currency has less management overhead, we suggest merchants should evaluate the possible trade-offs such as lowered conversion rates and potential confusion for customers seeing your products sold in a currency different from their local currency. We generally recommend that if a company is investing in a new market, that they create an ecommerce site with localized currency and payment gateway options that also reflects the new target market they are looking to serve.
Shopify is a powerful platform that Hong Kong businesses can consider to build a localized ecommerce storefront. As you plan out your ecommerce strategy, we encourage consideration of the long-term implications in choosing your website features. Shopify’s rich platform of apps and APIs offer many solutions for multi-lingual support, payment gateway capabilities, logistics support, data integration, and market expansion that may meet your specific business needs.
If you have any questions about setting up a Shopify store in Hong Kong, please get in touch!
Wave Commerce is a Shopify and BigCommerce partner and may receive affiliate revenue from merchant subscriptions to these platforms.