Internet traders bullish on market
While traditional retailers are expecting sluggish prospects, online merchants are more positive, banking on exports to fuel growth
The outlook for retailers next year may be sluggish but online sellers are more bullish as they count on export markets for growth, says a study released by eBay.
"We found that small and medium enterprises in Hong Kong selling online and exporting sold 1.6 times their counterparts in their offline market," said James Mirfin, PayPal's country manager for Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea. "They were generating HK$43 million in revenue." PayPal is owned by eBay.
Mirfin said 70 per cent of retailers surveyed expected the domestic market next year to be sluggish but those online expected it to be a growth market.
The study surveyed more than 800 eBay export sellers in Hong Kong, Taiwan and the mainland.
Mainland merchants listed Australia and Britain as the most popular destinations to expand their business to while those in Hong Kong had Russia and the United States at the top of their list.
They also expressed interest in expanding to categories such as home goods and lifestyle products. The most popular products sold by Hong Kong merchants are electronic goods and fashion wear.
The fastest growing categories for Hong Kong merchants in the fourth quarter last year were fashion, which rose 22 per cent, while toys gained 13 per cent, cameras 12 per cent, and mobile phones and other electronics both jumped 11 per cent.
The global e-commerce platform also ranked Hong Kong second on the list of online export hubs in greater China after Guangzhou, while Shanghai came third.
While traditional markets such as the US, Britain and Australia were still the largest shipping destinations for Hong Kong sellers, the top growing markets were Argentina, Israel and Norway, gaining as much as 81.4 per cent year on year.
Mirfin said the firm would explore the digital currency bitcoin in more depth next year.
eBay president and chief executive John Donahoe has said he is closely monitoring bitcoin, saying the currency could become "a very powerful thing".
"Our president has talked about it a lot," Mirfin said. "At this point it's too speculative as an investment to put in the PayPal wallet, but we do always look at currencies and we've added currencies this year. It's going to be a very interesting area next year."
Mirfin shot down the notion that bitcoins would pose a threat to the PayPal platform.
"No, I don't think so. We constantly look at what merchants and consumers want, so we added the rouble [this year].
"The great thing about PayPal is that we offer consumers the funding choices they use, whether it is credit card, debit cards and a range of currencies. I don't see them as a competitor; they're an enabler for transactions."