Friday, February 22, 2019
Martin Hennecke

Wong confident of online success
Media tycoon Ricky Wong Wai-kay said Hong Kong's retail industry will die if retailers disregard e-commerce, the mega-trend around the world.

He said his Hong Kong Television Network (1137), which transformed its main business from television to online shopping in recent years, is the only one working hard here to develop e-commerce, since most companies in the retail industry still cling to "old formulas" that were successful in past decades.

"Most of them think renting more physical stores or stores in the areas with high customer traffic flow still works today," Wong said, adding that retailers should keep pace with the times.

It seems that Wong, who also founded the Hong Kong Broadband Network, has become a pioneer once again, as his HKTVmall is the SAR's first 24-hour online shopping platform, with grocery store, home and lifestyle products, offering next-day delivery.

There are 2,700 commercial tenants in the online shopping platform, including both famous name brands and small brands, covering about 90 percent of products in general supermarkets, according to Wong.

For example, he said the platform offers more than 1,400 brands of shampoo, while general physical shops only have about 200 brands.

Wong said while there are other companies starting to venture into e-commerce, their services are very limited. For instance, those firms cannot deliver fresh milk, steak, or ice cream due to their limited equipment.

Meanwhile, Wong's company is the first in Hong Kong to operate more than 160 delivery vehicles that are temperature controlled, meaning they can ensure foods are fresh or remain frozen when delivered to customers.

Within this year, he plans to increase his fleet to 200 delivery cars to deal with the surging orders.

HKTVmall has been operating for three years, with the number of daily orders jumping to 7,600 in December from 830 in February 2015, and the average amount per order rising to HK$537 from HK$259.

Besides the online platform, Wong also runs 16 physical stores at present, and plans to open more in the future. In these stores, or so-called social centers, customers can take delivery, he said, adding that the elderly can also learn how to shop online.

So far, the results of these stores sound great. In general, opening a new store in a new area, will make this area's sales jumped even six times in just two months, Wong said.

Meanwhile, the man known for oozing confidence said he has never thought about when the parent company could make a profit. Although the company has invested HK$140 million in developing the HKTVmall's automatic system at its Tseung Kwan O warehouse, there are currently no plans to seek new investors, Wong said, adding that he is always "self-dependent." He noted that HKTV barely has liabilities, and at present still has enough resources to continue operating.

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