9 of 10 in Hong Kong have bought online

Over half in Hong Kong have used at least three platforms to do research before making their online purchases, with personal computers still the most common transaction platform, reveals GfK Retail survey.

Nine of 10 in Hong Kong have bought goods online at least once, as the growing number of the "three screens"--personal computers, smartphones, and tablets--in the Chinese territory has made it more convenient and accessible to shop online.  

Some 80 percent of transactions were below HK$1,000 (US$128.79).

According to a GfK Hong Kong survey released Friday, 4 in 5 online shoppers said they used either laptops or desktop computers to transact online, while over half said they used smartphones and 40 percent did so via their tablets. Online shopping adoption was highest among Gen Y consumers. 

The number of online shoppers grew from 218,000 in 2002 to 1.38 million in 2012, said Walter Leung, managing director for GfK Hong Kong. "Intensifying migration to 3G or 4G LTE networks of smart mobile devices , added to the increasing adoption of larger screen-sized smartphones which facilitate ease of usage, have greatly fueled the growth momentum of mobile-commence."

Clothing emerged the most popular item purchased online. Other top 10 shopping categories included shoes, skincare products, books, hotel and flight bookings, and electronic products. One third of shoppers forked out between HK$200 and HK$499 (US$25.76 and US$64.27) for each transaction, while over 80 percent of online transactions were below HK$1,000 (US$128.79).

Hong Kong consumers were also diligent in doing research before making their purchase, with 54 percent turning to at least three platforms before parting with their money. Key sources of research were magazines, the merchant's official Web site, and television, according to GfK, while search engines, social media, and discussion forums were the top three avenues for gathering product information and word-of-mouth references.

Noting that a good e-commerce strategy is necessary but not guaranteed success in the e-tail business , Leung said: "Marketers need to be more visionary and innovative to capitalize on the opportunity by optimizing all the influential touch-points in the whole purchase journey, and develop a holistic commerce strategy in the digital world."

Conducted via an online questionnaire, the GfK survey polled nearly 2,000 respondents in January and another 4,054 in April this year. Respondents were aged between 18 and 65 years.