Reshaping Retail 重塑零售業

Roles of online and offline channels are shifting as consumer behaviour changes in the Greater Bay Area become permanent, study finds.

The Covid-19 pandemic has reshaped the retail industry forever, forcing both retailers and consumers to embrace digital platforms, whether they were ready or not. New research from KPMG China, GS1 Hong Kong and HSBC suggests that the retailers who have best survived this rapid transition are those who have been able to cater to the growing level of digital engagement demanded by consumers.

The study, “Retail’s Realignment: The Road Ahead for Omnichannel in the Greater Bay Area," explores how businesses and consumers in Hong Kong and the rest of the Greater Bay Area (GBA) are embracing the trends and technologies in a retail ecosystem challenged dramatically by the Covid-19 pandemic. A survey of 2,053 consumers and 400 senior retail executives across Hong Kong and nine Mainland China GBA cities and interviews with industry leaders identified the following trends:

1 Consumer shopping behaviour has changed for good

Among Hong Kong consumers surveyed, 50% said they felt more comfortable shopping online since the start of the pandemic, and of those in the nine Mainland China GBA cities, 59%. Around one in four consumers surveyed said they could live without physical stores, while about 60% said they better understand how to search for products online. Meanwhile, retailers interviewed for the study said that shoppers’ new habits will be hard to break, and the gains made by digital channels mean that many shoppers will not return to physical stores.

2 Consumers expect brands to offer an integrated online-to-offline (O2O) experience, with Generation Z leading the charge

respondents from Hong Kong and 85% from Mainland China GBA cities expect retailers to have a better connection between online and offline channels. Despite this, the survey revealed that only 39% of businesses were currently focusing on integration between their online and physical stores, suggesting a significant gap in retailers’ O2O propositions.


At the forefront of these expectations is Generation Z, those born from 1995 to 2010. Analysis of consumers aged 18-24 shows that 73% in Hong Kong and 86% in Mainland GBA cities expect a swift response to product enquiries logged on online chat, and expect brands to use tech including AI to help shortlist new products based on purchase history and style.

Consumers also expressed a desire to be able to engage with brands across social media and other digital mediums, and they expect brands to use technology to improve customer service, ease of payment, logistics and convenient product returns. This suggests that brands and retailers who forge comprehensive O2O strategies that encompass multiple digital points of engagement will enjoy a significant market advantage in the years ahead.


These strategies should take into account the changing roles of online and offline channels, reflecting when, where and how customers prefer to engage with brands and make purchases. For example, for some types of products, customers may prefer to experience and test products in-person at a retail store and then purchase online later; while for others, browsing and purchasing may happen entirely on a brand website, marketplace or social media channel.

3 Demonstrating authenticity and explaining purpose is more important than ever before to build trust with customers

The pandemic has sharpened consumers’ focus on health, sustainability and well-being. In the survey, authenticity was the number-one characteristic that attracted consumers to brands, out of a list of 10 other attributes. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 68% of Hong Kong consumers and 65% of those from Mainland China GBA cities say they are more conscious of a product’s origins.

4 Sourcing, upskilling and reskilling talent remains a key challenge for retailers, highlighting the need for education initiatives

For a majority of the retailers interviewed, sourcing talent with the right skills in digital and data analytics, along with training and upskilling existing staff to build a future-ready workforce, were identified as leading challenges. Executives mentioned IT and systems support, data analytics, and research and development as areas where they are facing the greatest talent shortages, while sales, marketing and communications was another key area of concern. This finding highlights the need for educational institutions to be more proactive in developing relevant digital skills training programmes that can better serve the retail industry.

5 Consumers expect brands to deploy technology to speed fulfilment and reduce costs

As consumers become more adept at searching, shopping and paying for goods online, they expect brands to step up their implementation of technologies to make the shopping process faster and more efficient. They are ready to embrace solutions which help them more easily search for items and recommend products based on their purchasing history, even if this means they have to share personal data. However, concerns remain among consumers about the security of that data – with 76% of respondents overall saying they believe companies provide a moderate, low or insufficient level of data security.

6 The need for comprehensive strategies for the GBA and Southeast Asia is more apparent

The survey reflects that 73% of retailers are implementing GBA-specific strategies across one or more of their business functions. However, where these strategies exist was less consistent: the most common business functions for which retailers are implementing a GBA strategy are sales, marketing and communications (43%). On the other hand, just 16% are developing GBA-specific strategies for finance or human resources and 10% for legal.


Given ongoing regulatory changes as well as tax and legal considerations for cross-border recruitment and capital flows, this suggests that a potential gap exists in how retailers are planning their back-office functions with relation to the GBA. At the same time, many retailers are looking to expand into Southeast Asia, a region that is experiencing rapid adoption of e-commerce, particularly on mobile channels. Industry executives interviewed for the study emphasised the need for adequate localisation of products, services and marketing approaches to appeal to this growing pool of digital-savvy consumers.

新冠病毒疫情永久改變了零售業生態,零售商和消費者不論是否準備充足,也得轉向數碼平台。畢馬威中國、香港貨品編碼協會和滙豐共同開展的調查顯示,在快速轉型過程中屹立不倒的零售品牌,往往能滿足消費者與日俱增的數碼化需求。

《零售新里程:大灣區全渠道發展展望》研究報告探討香港以至大灣區其他城市的企業和消費者如何在飽受疫情衝擊的零售生態中適應新趨勢,採納新技術。該報告收集了香港和大灣區九個內地城市共2,053名消費者和400名零售高管的意見,並訪問業界領袖,從而得出以下趨勢:

1 消費者購物行為永久改變

五成受訪香港消費者表示,自疫情爆發以來,他們對網購感到更稱心
自在,而在大灣區九個內地城市受訪者中,59%抱持相同看法。約四分之一受訪消費者表示可接受沒有實體零售店舖,而約六成受訪者表示在網上搜尋商品更得心應手。同時,有受訪零售商表示,消費者在疫情期間養成的購物新習慣將難以改變,加上數碼渠道好處多,許多消費者將不會再到實體店購物。

2 消費者期望品牌融合線上線下(O2O)購物體驗,Z世代消費者引領變革

絕大多數消費者期望從店舖購物無縫過渡到網上購物。調查發現,在香港和大灣區內地城市的受訪消費者中,分別有77%和85%希望零售商充分融合線上和線下渠道;但在受訪企業中,僅39%正着力整合實體店和網店,可見零售商在實現O2O主張和應對上存在明顯落差。走在最前引領這些期望轉變的是Z世代,即在1995至2010年間出生的消費群。調查對年齡介乎18至24歲的消費者進行分析,發現當中73%來自香港和86%來自大灣區內地城市的受訪者期望能透過網上聊天系統迅速得到有關產品查詢的回應,亦期望品牌利用人工智能等技術根據購物紀錄和喜好風格推薦新產品。

消費者還表示渴望通過社交媒體和其他數碼媒體與品牌互動,並期望品牌利用科技改善客戶服務,令支付、物流及退貨程序更便捷。由此可見,品牌和零售商制定全方位、涵蓋不同數碼媒體的O2O策略,將可帶來龐大的市場優勢。企業制定這些策略時宜考慮線上和線下渠道角色的持續變化,並反映顧客喜歡與品牌互動及購物的時間、地點和方式。舉例說,顧客可能傾向親臨門市查看和試用某類商品,稍後才到網店購買;有些商品則可透過品牌官網、電商平台、社交媒體等渠道同步完成搜索和購買。

3 要取得顧客信任,展現產品真實性和闡明理念愈趨重要

疫情驅使消費者更關注健康、福祉和可持續議題。在品牌吸引消費者的十大要素中,品牌真實性最獲受訪者重視。在受訪的香港和大灣區內地城市消費者中,分別有68%和65%表示疫情令他們開始更注重產品來源。

4 招攬、培訓和再培訓人才仍然是零售商面臨的主要挑戰

絕大多數受訪零售商認為,招攬數碼和數據分析專才,以及培訓和提升員工技能,打造面向未來的工作團隊,是他們面臨的主要挑戰。企業高管指出,人才短缺問題困擾多個領域,以資訊科技和系統支援、數據分析和研發領域尤甚,其次是銷售、市場推廣和傳訊領域。上述發現表明,教育機構需更積極制定切合市場需要的數碼技能培訓計劃,以更好地服務零售業。

5 消費者期望品牌利用科技加快服務速度和降低成本

隨着消費者在網上搜尋和選購商品愈來愈駕輕就熟,他們期望品牌加快實施科技方案,提升整個購物流程的速度和效率。通過科技方案,零售商能完善商品搜尋功能,並根據顧客的購物紀錄推薦商品,因此即使要提供個人資料,消費者也願意採納科技方案。誠然,消費者仍然擔心資料安全問題:整體而言,76%受訪者認為企業對數據安全的保障程度一般、較低或不足。

6 企業愈發需要制定大灣區和東南亞市場的全方位策略

調查顯示,73%受訪零售商表示已有一個或多個業務部門開始實施大灣區專項策略,但企業已實施有關策略的業務部門並不一致:零售商已實施大灣區專項策略最常見的業務部門是銷售、市場推廣和傳訊(43%)。另一方面,只有16%企業制定了大灣區專項財務或人力資源策略,僅10%的企業制定了大灣區專項法律策略。

由於跨境招聘和資金流動的規管要求時有變更,而且涉及相關的稅務和法律問題,零售商在規劃與大灣區相關的後勤職能方面存在潛在落差。同時,不少零售商亦尋求拓展東南亞市場,該區電商業務發展迅速,尤其是流動渠道零售。受訪的行業高管強調,精通網購的消費群組不斷擴大,要吸引他們消費,就需要為產品、服務和營銷方案增添本地色彩。

【Source: The Bulletin HKGCC , September, 2021】

【2021年9月,文章來源: 香港總商會工商月刊 】