Upgraded sourcing platform and virtual fair boost business connections
The Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) has upgraded its hktdc.com Sourcingplatform in the run-up to the HKTDC Autumn Sourcing Week | ONLINE virtual exhibition, helping small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) capture global business opportunities and adapt to digital sourcing models in the post-pandemic new normal.
Benjamin Chau, HKTDC Deputy Executive Director, said: “The pandemic has changed the sourcing pattern of many companies and accelerated the transformation of the global supply chain. The latest HKTDC survey shows that Hong Kong companies are adjusting their business strategies to cope with the new normal. Companies are increasingly ‘going digital’ to expand their online distribution channels (69%), conducting online marketing (56%) to develop new business markets (57%) and accelerating the application of technology in their business (47%).”
Mr Chau observed that trade activities were on the rise in the third quarter of 2020, with a rebound in Hong Kong’s total exports. While physical trade fairs cannot be held at present, he called on local businesses to leverage the HKTDC’s digital platforms and services to tap into various markets, especially economies that have signed free trade agreements with the city such as Mainland China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). “Mainland China is probably the only economy in the world that will see positive GDP (gross domestic product) growth in 2020, and its ‘dual circulation’ model of development with an emphasis on the domestic economy will stimulate consumption growth. As a major trade fair hub in Asia, Hong Kong can play a pivotal role in attracting more local and international brands and products to the mainland market,” he added.
In response to these new developments, Mr Chau said the HKTDC put on stage Autumn Sourcing Week | ONLINE, from 16 to 27 November following the completion of a significant upgrade to its hktdc.com Sourcing platform. “Users notice a refreshed design as well as new features that deliver a better, more personalised smart-sourcing experience anytime and anywhere. We have also employed new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to increase the efficiency through which we connect buyers with suppliers and improve the overall user experience.”
He said the HKTDC will continue to enhance its online services to help Hong Kong businesses capture opportunities. He believes physical and online exhibitions should integrate and complement each other. “Even when physical exhibitions resume, the HKTDC will continue to organise regular thematic online sourcing events to cater to the different sourcing cycles of various sectors, providing exhibitors with additional opportunities to connect with global buyers,” Mr Chau explained. “Fully utilising the advantages of online-to-offline promotion, we will carry out digital promotions and business-matching activities before and after the trade fairs, allowing exhibitors to reach out to overseas buyers who are not able to come to Hong Kong and helping to create an extended exhibition experience.”
“The new supplier authentication system classifies companies on the platform into Gold, Silver and Bronze categories based on reputation and activeness. A record of companies’ participation at HKTDC events and their last update time are also provided, serving as a reference for buyers as they seek out the most suitable suppliers,” Mr Chau said. The Third-party Authentication Service, meanwhile, allows suppliers to highlight their credibility and product quality to strengthen buyer confidence.
Trade promotion organisations such as the Federation of Hong Kong Industries, Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) and others from Italy, Korea and Qatar have set up cluster zones on hktdc.com Sourcing to promote products from their members as well as brands and industries in their respective countries.
Under the theme “A New Connected World Beyond the New Normal”, Autumn Sourcing Week | ONLINE (ASWO) has attracted 2,600 exhibitors from 33 countries, including 37 group pavilions. The virtual trade fair features the latest products from 11 industries including electronics, houseware, lighting, outdoor lighting, eco tech, gifts and premiums, toys, baby products, stationery, optical as well as watches and clocks. “This is a one-stop sourcing platform where suppliers can generate new business while buyers can restock for the year ahead,” Mr Chau said.
ASWO offers a new 3D virtual booth where exhibitors can promote their brands and products through a unique presentation. The Environment Bureau of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) features an interactive “Hong Kong˙GO Green” virtual tour, introducing the latest waste management facilities as well as virtual reality demonstration of the latest noise reduction system. Cyberport’s 3D virtual booth will bring 14 start-ups to showcase innovative technologies such as mobile applications, consumer electronics, e-health, robotics and wearable devices. There are also spectacular 3D booths by exhibitors of optical, toys and baby products.
Additionally, ASWO features the AI-driven Click2Match business-matching platform. This platform supports meeting scheduling, video meetings, live-chat sessions, contact exchange and other functions to provide a richer online sourcing and networking experience for buyers and exhibitors.