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How a Hong Kong retail store is embracing disruptive technology – Part 2

A recent report noted that a Hong Kong retail store has been embracing emerging technologies since 1999.

In Part I of this piece, OpenGov Asia reported covered the company’s innovative concept store. It can be found here.

Part II will cover how the company plans to embrace tech in the future and how it will adapt it to meet its needs.

The company’s founder stated that the company’s long-term investment in new technologies has been driven by asking how the company can serve its customers better in terms of information and engagement, adding that technology can make purchasing decisions easier.

He noted that the majority of traditional retailers are still unsure about whether the innovations will take on, whether they should invest in the technology. But it is essential if businesses want to remain competitive, especially when the new customer population consists of millennials, who often prefer to shop and interact online.

The founder believes that despite the slow uptake of online shopping in Hong Kong, online and mobile shopping will be significant in the future. He cites the Hong Kong government’s Smart City initiative to boost wi-fi connectivity and encourage e-payments as a major driver in years to come.

It was noted facilities established to enable fast retailing through mobile are gaining momentum in Hong Kong and the region has everything quite well developed, but the market will dictate the change and if business owners do not accept these changes, they will “fade out and become history”.

The founder stated, technology is a must if retailers wish to you competitive.

There currently isn’t a definite percentage of the company’s online sales vs. in-store sales – as many transactions begin online and end offline – or the other way around. However, there isn’t a particular need to attribute a sale to either channel.

Perhaps retailers who do feel this need are missing the whole point of omnichannel. If pushed to nominate a figure the founder stated that the company does 20 per cent online sales and 80 per cent offline; the ratio is expected to change to 40/60 within a year or two.

For the company’s leadership, the application of technology to enhance the customer’s experience and engagement is definitely the road to go and to develop together with more applications and technology, just like the robot, so as to reduce the customer service burden on store staff.

It was stressed that the robot and any other technology implemented by the company must integrate with human staff, not replace them; what he describes as “a balanced fusion of technology and people”.

While Pepper is expected to become popular with its ability to provide instant information and master data about product features, etc, human staff will be enabled to then migrate into higher added-value areas.

Customer response to the AR and VR technology to date has been promising and is driving sales of goods after people look at them either online or instore.

Customers’ confidence in their purchases is boosted because they have seen on a screen how a sofa will look in one part of a room and a rug in another.

Technology is dynamic; constantly improving, updating and becoming more user-friendly.

The founder hopes that together with efforts by the Hong Kong Government to encourage start-ups working to develop technology, the service and retail sectors will help drive its adoption in years to come as well.

As the company’s technology journey continues, the apps it uses will continue to be refined and upgraded with more features and will be made as user-friendly as possible.

Currently, there are other initiatives are the development stage and are, therefore, not ready to be disclosed to the public. More robots are being, with expanded functions and most of them will speak English as well.

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