StartmeupHKFestival 2020 – Connected Retail Experiences

Why Retail Still Matters in an Increasingly Digital World


InvestHK and their partners delivered an interesting and informative virtual event to more than 471 speakers from 97 countries and territories, attracting a total of 181,770 attendees during the week of July 6-10 ( 2020). The Festival featured 199 virtual exhibitors.


At the Connected Retail Experiences, organised by Bailey Communications, Edward Yau, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, said that Hong Kong is a competitive market that will continue to move forward, in spite of the challenges. Stephen Phillips, Director-General of Investment Promotion, Invest Hong Kong, shared how InvestHK could help companies seize the opportunities in Hong Kong. ‘InvestHK’s goal is to help companies from across the world to both set up and expand in Hong Kong to capture the exciting opportunities in the city, in the Greater Bay Area, in China, in ASEAN, and beyond.’


             Stephen Phillips InvestHK


David Berkowitz, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Outernets, shared his vision for the future of retailing: an all-round, deep integration between brick-and-mortar stores and digital experiences that he called ‘Omnishops’. By employing technologies including computer vision, machine learning and data analytics, retailers can maximise shopper engagement across multiple contact points both offline and online, make better decisions, and ultimately boost sales.


Antoine Vatar, CEO, Albert Technologies, gave a presentation on the essential role of data in understanding user behaviour and improving their experience. However, Vatar explained that it was equally important for a company to translate such data into digestible insights for clients to make sure they understand your value and impact. ‘Free services are not free – we are paying with our data, said Vatar, while touching on the relationship between online platforms and their users whose data are being collected. ‘Data must benefit its owner. Our data are not a product anymore’ he added.


     Antoine Vatar

Bernie Brookes Chairman of Funtastic Australia and Chairman of Dotz Australia shared tips for the ever-evolving retailer. He said we’ve forgotten the importance of education. No longer can retailers sell products to an uninformed consumer. People want to be educated on products but with that comes a lot of online activism.


Next up industry thought leaders talked about emerging trends during Covid-19. Each panelist discussed trends in respect to their own markets. Sarah Fung Founder and CEO, HULA, reflected on HULA’s experience in sales growth over Covid-19, and said that one of the biggest trends is that sustainability is such a big factor. People are buying pre-owned items or not even at all. The shift in buying less is something that is resonating with consumers now. She said that there is a contradiction in “green washing”, but you cannot condemn a brand for doing it because it is what we all should be working toward, and it will take time. Louisa Zhang, Vice President, Vectr Ventures, said offline stores will be used for very different purposes than what it is used for now. The focus has shifted to favouring the experience with services like better return and pickup, product alteration and customisation. She said it is important not to see offline and online as two different challenges but one and the same.



Paul Martin, Chair, Global Retail Steering Group and Head of Retail UK, KPMG, said he did not expect retail sales to reach pre-Covid levels until 2022. The e-commerce channel is growing the fastest. It is important to highlight that online still only represents about 16% of all retail sales. The role of the physical environment is also changing. He highlighted the six drivers of consumption that will continue to shape consumer purchases decision during and in a post-Covid world, namely value, convenience, experience, choice, purpose, and privacy and safety.


             Paul Martin

Noah Herschman, Senior Retail Industry Architect, Microsoft, said in his session, that retail is nothing but forecasting and prediction, which is built for artificial intelligence and machine learning processes. Richard Claydon, Chief Executive, Organisational Misbehaviourists, presented reasoning behind how fostering trust can immediately boost sales. He noted that trust needs to be made a core design component of sales.


To wrap up the day, Joanna Dai, Founder and CEO of London-based womenswear brand Dai, shared her personal experience in creating her own high growth fashion start-up- the concept is formal but also functional.


           Joanna Dai