Online Retail Opportunities for BFCM and the Holidays During Covid-19

Recapping Shopify merchant successes during Covid-19 and tips for BFCM with ProductPro and Moving Beans. Shopify updates and latest solutions from Shopify partners hoolah, EasyShip, Hongkong Post, and Wave Commerce.

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On November 17, Wave Commerce co-hosted the Shopify Meetup Hong Kong 2020 Fall virtual event with partners hoolah, Hongkong Post, and Easyship. In the midst of the global pandemic, shoppers are looking more and more to online solutions for their holiday shopping, starting with Black Friday Cyber Monday and right through Christmas and winter holidays. The event hosts as well as our special guest Shopify merchants Logan So from ProductPro 白得好 and Daniel Hardej from Moving Beans Coffee to discuss solutions such as rewards programs, buy now pay later, omnichannel retailing with QR codes, shipping automation, and other tactics in the ecommerce toolbox to not only survive, but thrive during these unprecedented times.

Shopify Updates for Hong Kong

To kick off the event, Shopify’s Hong Kong lead, Frankie Ng, shared the latest ecommerce features Hong Kong Shopify merchants can take advantage of. The platform’s payment gateway Shopify Pay has been rebranded as Shop Pay, and is gaining user adoption. Relatedly, the platforms’ Shop App gives customers a centralized place to pay for and track their orders from various Shopify merchants — as well as feel good about their carbon offset with trees planted per purchase. Shopify has also improved its API to support Post Purchase Upsells to help merchants increase their customer retention and lifetime value. Finally, Shopify is now offering Instagram Shopping in Hong Kong which merchants can create without a Facebook managed account.

Ways to Boost Conversions and Customer Happiness with Shopify Partners

Buy Now Pay Later with hoolah

Next, Ben Hallam from hoolah introduced the platform’s buy now pay later platform. Ben introduced how brands could reach new, price-savvy audiences by offering three payment installments that are not lines of credit, but an alternative way for shoppers to spread their spending. Ben illustrated how offering a buy now pay later option can help brands acquire new customers through the hoolah ecosystem, increase conversions by decreasing upfront purchase stress, expand basket sizes, and drive repeat customers amongst hoolah brands. This service is now available in Hong Kong.

Online to Offline Ecommerce Solutions with Wave Vouchers

Next, Wave Commerce’s Product Manager, Vivian, introduced Wave Commerce’s ecommerce services and highlighted two omnichannel retailing and online-to-offline (O2O) merchant case studies from ProductPro and Imperial Patisserie that can help retailers improve their customer experiences. For ProductPro, migrating their successful online store to Shopify allowed them to successfully streamline their orders and offer customers our multilingual loyalty program, S Loyalty, to drive customer retention. Vivian also explained how Imperial Patisserie created an online Shopify store with a Netsuite integration and successfully offered an O2O experience with online orders that could be picked up at their offline retail locations. Wave Commerce also introduced our new O2O app that supports Shopify QR code product creation with our Wave Vouchers app.

Taking Logistics, Labels, and Customs off Your Plate with EasyShip

Michelle Law, Business Development Manager (Hong Kong) at EasyShip introduced how the platform could help Shopify merchants offer shipping options locally and globally, with up to 70% discounts in shipping rates with 250 courier solutions. With EasyShip, online merchants can offer competitive shipping rates in a streamlined way to scale their business by leveraging the global shipping platform’s unified dashboard, automatic rates and duties for major markets, and label printing, amongst other features.

Using the EC-Ship App and Vantage Services to Deliver Locally and Globally with Hongkong Post

Finally, Cyrus Chan from Hongkong Post introduced the EC-Ship App for Shopify and Hongkong Post Vantage to support merchants doing global commerce. With passenger flights significantly reduced in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Hongkong Post Vantage uses logistics solutions and freighter flights to offer commercial clearance and full or partial tracking to 22-28 destinations in Europe. The Hongkong Post EC-Ship App that allows merchants to login with their Hongkong Post ID, create shipping labels and drop off at an iPostal station or counter collection.

Shopify Merchants Share Ecommerce Growth Tactics Through Covid-19 and Holiday Shopping

As the final part of the main event, Akul Dewan from hoolah hosted a Shopify merchant discussion with Logan So from ProductPro 白得好 and Daniel Hardej from Moving Beans Coffee to discuss how their online sales have grown in 2020 despite the global pandemic.

Handling Logistics and Customer Relationships

Notably, a poll during the Shopify Meetup found that majority of online respondents saw sales increase or remain unchanged since Covid-19. These responses matched both Daniel and Logan’s experiences with significant online sales growth early in 2020 due to shoppers moving online. However, both were quick to note that increased sales also required attention to logistics, cash flow, and customer communication. Daniel noted that increased sales meant that stock was quickly depleted and required quickly replenishing stock as well as handling frustrated customers at shipping delays due to the global situation. Logan added that the company had to update their warehouse management system to meet demands and that the company had to handle cash flow in anticipation of refund requests for customers that did not want to wait for delayed items. Both Daniel and Logan noted that shipping and logistics had significant delays that could be managed to build stronger customer relationships through proactive communication, whether it was shipping notices, responding to frustrations, or handling canceled orders due to delays.

Spending Smarter for Customer Acquisition and Retention

Logan and Daniel both also delved into how their businesses adapted to the new pandemic online retail and work environment. For Daniel, the business model for Moving Beans did not change, but operations and finances changed. While Moving Beans faced some challenges with remote work for a coffee brand that had expanded from the United Kingdom to Hong Kong and Australia, they took this year to reassess aspects of their business such as ad spend. With increased uncertainty, they explored e-mail marketing, direct messaging, and direct B2B sales to get the same returns while halving their budget on advertising channels such as Facebook and Instagram. For ProductPro, Logan shared how the company focused on providing more value to customers whether it is in sourcing the best products needed by consumers during this time or by launching customer benefits such as using Wave Commerce’s rewards app, S Loyalty, to reward customers and build customer loyalty.

Ecommerce during BFCM and the Holidays

Our second poll question asked whether Shopify merchants anticipated an increase in sales during the November to January holiday season and over half (53%) of respondents said they saw no difference (less than 25% sales increase). While Daniel shared that Moving Beans could see as much as 17x return on ad spend during the Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM) period, Logan noted that ProductPro’s niche products were not as dependent on this period and so the company did not actively promote products. For merchants taking advantage of BFCM, Daniel emphasized good content, posted daily if not multiple times a day, so that people see you amongst the many other brands also promoting during this period. For Moving Beans, as much as three-quarters of the new customers from this period return, giving a high lifetime value for the investment. In contrast, Logan said that ProductPro used the tactic of suggesting gifting options for family and friends to upsell existing customers who may not immediately find other relevant products.

As a final tip, Logan shared that ecommerce brands should have a plan to scale and be able to scale quickly once demand arrives. He advised businesses that find staffing and inventory management as the bottleneck to look for third party solutions to handle packing and fulfillment so that your team can focus on customer relationships.

After the main event, our event hosts had three breakout sessions hosted by hoolah, Easyship and Wave Commerce with ProductPro.

In these last two months of 2020, we anticipate that ecommerce will play a pivotal role in providing everything from daily essentials to delightful surprises for people around the world. As consumers continue to stay home and reduce contact with loved ones, online orders will be one of the key ways they can continue to safely make purchases, whether for offline curbside pickup or delivered to the door of family and friends. Take these months as an opportunity to try new channels of reaching consumers, increase conversions with creative payment options and giveaways, and build a loyal fanbase through professional fulfillment and customer service.

If you are a business considering ecommerce solutions for this holiday season, talk to us about how you can smoothly integrate an online store into your offline operations. You can also read our tips for Covid-19 retail tips for store owners and how QR codes for items can help you delight customers with safe and convenient offline order redemptions.