Tuesday, October 7, 2003

Internet shopping surges in popularity in Hong Kong

Oct 7, 2003 -HONG KONG: Internet shopping in Hong Kong has surged in popularity in the past year but most people appear to be only window-shopping, a survey published Friday found.

The most popular shopping sites, such as Yahoo and Amazon, have seen a 47% rise in visits by Hong Kong people, according to Internet market research company Nielsen/NetRatings.

A total of 823,000 Hong Kong people visited the top 100 shopping sites this year compared with 562,000 this year, researchers found.

The number of people using the Internet in the territory has risen from 1.7 million to 2.1 million over the same period.

Nielsen/NetRatings director Peter Steyn told Friday's South China Morning Post that despite the rise in visits to shopping sites, Hong Kong people were using the Internet to compare products and prices.

Hong Kong consumers are wary about spending money online, thinking the technology unsafe, and prefer to browse the Internet for price comparisons before buying in shops. - dpa

Saturday, October 4, 2003

E-government shows steady gains in Hong Kong


E-government in the HKSAR is showing signs of life with the number of people visiting gov.hk domains from home growing 46 percent year on year, compared to only 24 percent growth in the total number of people using the Internet in Hong Kong over the same period, according to latest information from Nielsen//NetRatings. "Year on year, the growth of audiences to each of the top 10 gov.hk domains outstripped overall Internet user growth in Hong Kong. In August 2002, no less than 34 percent of at-home surfers visited a gov.hk site," stated Peter Steyn, sales and marketing director, Nielsen//NetRatings Hong Kong in a press release.

The general Hong Kong government information at info.gov.hk made it the top-ranking domain within the gov.hk property, recording a total of 407,592 unique visitors in August. The site contains comprehensive information about the Hong Kong SAR, including government services and news, and attracts a heavy 18 to 34 year old following.

"The second and third ranked -- lcsd.gov.hk and hkpl.gov.hk -- have consistently recorded increases in audience numbers since they were launched in Hong Kong. Lcsd.gov.hk provides information on leisure and cultural services, museums, performing arts, recreation and sports. Hkpl.gov.hk, the Hong Kong public libraries site, is an increasingly popular site in Hong Kong and offers the convenience of online library browsing, as well as reserving and renewing of library books," noted Steyn.

The fourth ranked hko.gov.hk and seventh ranked weather.gov.hk, both directing to the Hong Kong Observatory site, had a combined unique audience (unduplicated) of 190,000, which would place them at rank number two. The site carries comprehensive information about the current weather and forecasts, up-to-date tracking of cyclones, and a wealth of statistics and weather related information and news.

The fifth ranking domain, jobs.gov.hk, had the second highest year on year growth among the top 10 gov.hk domains, with unemployment in Hong Kong currently sitting well above seven per cent

"Jobs.gov.hk now ranks number one in the overall job search category in Hong Kong, up from number three a year ago. While audiences to the site grew by 154 percent, page views on the site more than tripled, to make it the top ranking gov.hk site based on page views. Its August 2002 audience is slightly lower than its all-time high audience in May, June, and July 2002," added Steyn.

Thursday, August 7, 2003

Meer internetters door Sars-crisis

Gepubliceerd door Godius op woensdag 6 augustus 2003 12:48

Het internetgebruik in Hong Kong blijft ook na de Sars-crisis stijgen. Steeg het gebruik van met name sites met medische informatie, nieuws, webwinkels en banken gedurende de Sars-epidemie van eind maart tot en met mei van dit jaar fors, ook na het sein 'all-clear' blijft het gebruik van online-diensten toenemen. Dat meldt onderzoeksbureau Nielsen/NetRatings. Tijdens de 'crisisperiode' zetten veel inwoners van Hong Kong hun activiteiten buitenshuis op een lager pitje. Veel zaken, zoals boodschappen en bankzaken, werden in die periode online geregeld. In april steeg het aantal internetgebruikers met maar liefst 13 procent ten opzichte van de maand ervoor. Gemiddeld waren zij die maand 22,5 uur online, tegen zestien uur in de maanden voordat de Sars-epidemie uitbrak.


In juni, de eerste 'Sars-vrije' maand na de uitbraak, daalde het internetgebruik weliswaar licht ten opzichte van de twee voorgaande maanden, maar het schommelt nog altijd aanzienlijk boven het niveau van voor de crisis. Zo lag het aantal surfers naar sites van banken in juni 26 procent hoger dan in de maand februari. "Het is de vraag of deze groei op de lange termijn vastgehouden kan worden", zegt Peter Steyn van Nielsen/Netratings.

Friday, August 1, 2003

HK cybersurfers stay online

Posted:9:39 PM (Manila Time) | Aug. 01, 2003
Agence France-Presse


HONG KONG -- Hong Kong residents who turned to the Internet for entertainment during the devastating SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) outbreak have continued surfing in cyberspace more than a month after the crisis passed, a survey found Thursday.

Peter Steyn, sales and marketing director for Nielsen//Netratings, said the outbreak of SARS had a profound effect on Internet audiences between late-March to May.

"Traffic to Internet sites for shopping, banking, news, medical information and education grew to record highs as people stayed at home and looked for ways to continue with their lives online," said Steyn.

At the height of the crisis in April, numbers of active Internet users rose 13 percent from the previous month, the fastest month-on-month increase in over two years, with Hong Kong users spending on average 22.5 hours online compared with about 16 hours a month in the six months prior to SARS.

Steyn noted that while Internet usage after the SARS crisis had decreased slightly from their peak, figures for June still showed a significant increase over February, the month before SARS struck.

"For example, websites in the banking sector saw a huge 26 percent increase in users in June over February, translating into an increase in audience reach of three percentage points," he said.

Not all websites benefited from the increased Internet usage during the crisis with users avoiding travel sites, as they put off vacations for fear of contracting the deadly virus on board airplanes.

"However, with the all-clear signal in June, audiences to travel sites increased by 37 percent compared with April, as people took advantage of a variety of travel deals," he said.

"There is little doubt that Internet audiences post-SARS have reached significantly higher levels than before the epidemic," said Steyn. "The question now is whether these gains will be sustained in the longer term."

Hong Kong was the world's second worst hit SARS region with at least 297 deaths from nearly 1,800 infections. It was removed from the World Health Organization's list of SARS-affected areas on June 23.

The 13-week outbreak battered Hong Kong's retail and restaurant businesses as many of the city's 6.8 million residents donned surgical masks and steered clear of crowded shopping malls to avoid contracting the deadly pneumonia-like virus.

SARS stimulates ongoing growth in Internet usage in Hong Kong

IE Asia Team , 1-Aug-2003 www.intelligentasia.com

Hong Kong residents cut back on their outdoor activities during the critical months of the recent SARS crisis, preferring to head to the Internet for essential medical information, news, as well as for online shopping, banking and education. What's more, they appear to have continued to enjoy these online services even after the all-clear, according to the latest information from Nielsen/NetRatings Hong Kong.

"The SARS crisis had a profound effect on Internet audiences in Hong Kong over the period from late March through to May. Traffic to Internet sites for shopping, banking, news, medical information and education grew to record highs," said Peter Steyn, Sales and Marketing Director, Nielsen//NetRatings Hong Kong.

At the height of the crisis in April, the number of active Internet users increased by 13% compared with the previous month - the fastest month-on-month growth in more than two years.

Usage levels also spiked in April, when Hong Kong people spent, on average, 22.5 hours online, compared to an average of just under 16 hours per month during the six months preceding SARS. Pages viewed increased by 44% in April compared with February, while the average number of domains accessed per person increased from 61 to 73.

"While Internet usage declined slightly post-SARS following their peak levels during the outbreak, our June figures still show significant increases over February,” Steyn said.

For example, he pointed out that Web sites in the banking sector saw a huge 26% increase in users in June over February, translating into an increase in audience reach of three percentage points.

Understandably, the travel category suffered during the crisis. However, with the all-clear signal in June, audiences to travel sites increased by 37% compared with April, as people took advantage of a variety of travel deals.

Among the categories analysed by Nielsen//NetRatings, online news sites experienced the highest growth (40%) in unique audience during April compared with February; followed by Education sites (36%); Bank sites (27%) and Shopping (15%).

Growth of the Shopping category was offset by a marked decline in movie/event ticket booking sites, and a drop in traffic to some travel sites. Several online shopping sites have, however, continued to increase their audience in June.

"There is little doubt that Internet audiences post-SARS have reached significantly higher levels than before the epidemic," said Steyn. "The question now is whether these gains will be sustained in the longer term."

Hong Kong cybersurfers stay online in wake of Sars crisis

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Friday, August 1, 2003 - Hong Kongers who turned to the Internet for entertainment during the devastating Sars outbreak have continued surfing in cyberspace more than a month after the crisis passed, a survey found on Thursday.

Peter Steyn, sales and marketing director for Nielsen Netratings, said the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) had a profound effect on Internet audiences between late-March to May.

"Traffic to Internet sites for shopping, banking, news, medical information and education grew to record highs as people stayed at home and looked for ways to continue with their lives online," said Mr Steyn.

At the height of the crisis in April, numbers of active Internet users rose 13 per cent from the previous month, the fastest month-on-month increased in over two years, with Hong Kong users spending on average 22.5 hours online compared with about 16 hours a month in the six months prior to Sars.

Mr Steyn noted while Internet usage after the Sars crisis had decreased slightly from their peak, figures for June still showed a significant increase over February, the month before Sars struck.

"For example, websites in the banking sector saw a huge 26 percent increase in users in June over February, translating into an increase in audience reach of three percentage points," he said.

Not all websites benefited from the increased Internet usage during the crisis with users avoiding travel sites, as they put off vacations for fear of contracting the deadly virus on board airplanes.

"However, with the all-clear signal in June, audiences to travel sites increased by 37 per cent compared with April, as people took advantage of a variety of travel deals," he said.

"There is little doubt that Internet audiences post-Sars have reached significantly higher levels than before the epidemic," said Mr Steyn.

"The question now is whether these gains will be sustained in the longer term."

Hong Kong was the world's second worst hit Sars region with at least 297 deaths from nearly 1,800 infections. It was removed from the World Health Organization's list of Sars-affected areas on June 23.

The 13-week outbreak battered Hong Kong's retail and restaurant businesses as many of the city's 6.8 million residents donned surgical masks and steered clear of crowded shopping malls to avoid contracting the deadly pneumonia-like virus.

Staying online after SARS

Posted Fri, 01 Aug 2003 (iafrica.com)

Hong Kongers who turned to the internet for entertainment during the devastating SARS outbreak have continued surfing in cyberspace more than a month after the crisis passed, a survey found on Thursday.

Peter Steyn, sales and marketing director for Nielsen Netratings, said the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) had a profound effect on internet audiences between late-March to May.


Record highs

"Traffic to internet sites for shopping, banking, news, medical information and education grew to record highs as people stayed at home and looked for ways to continue with their lives online," said Steyn.

At the height of the crisis in April, numbers of active internet users rose 13 percent from the previous month, the fastest month-on-month increased in over two years, with Hong Kong users spending on average 22.5 hours online compared with about 16 hours a month in the six months prior to SARS.


Significant increase

Steyn noted while internet usage after the SARS crisis had decreased slightly from their peak, figures for June still showed a significant increase over February, the month before SARS struck.

"For example, websites in the banking sector saw a huge 26 percent increase in users in June over February, translating into an increase in audience reach of three percentage points," he said.


Travel sites avoided

Not all websites benefited from the increased internet usage during the crisis with users avoiding travel sites, as they put off vacations for fear of contracting the deadly virus on board airplanes.

"However, with the all-clear signal in June, audiences to travel sites increased by 37 percent compared with April, as people took advantage of a variety of travel deals," he said.


"There is little doubt that internet audiences post-SARS have reached significantly higher levels than before the epidemic," said Steyn. "The question now is whether these gains will be sustained in the longer term."


Second worst hit SARS region

Hong Kong was the world's second worst hit SARS region with at least 297 deaths from nearly 1800 infections. It was removed from the World Health Organization's list of SARS-affected areas on June 23.

The 13-week outbreak battered Hong Kong's retail and restaurant businesses as many of the city's 6.8 million residents donned surgical masks and steered clear of crowded shopping malls to avoid contracting the deadly pneumonia-like virus.


AFP
This article is a printout from iafrica.com
Copyright © 2000 iafrica.com*, a division of Metropolis*

Thursday, July 31, 2003

SARS gunstig voor internet in Hongkong (Netherlands report)

HONGKONG (IPB) - Voor internetbedrijven in Hongkong heeft de SARS-epidemie van eerder dit jaar gunstig uitgepakt. Omdat mensen vanwege de longziekte de deur niet meer uit durfden, zochten ze hun toevlucht op het web. Dit meldt het internetbedrijf Nielsen Netratings donderdag.


Nadat de Chinese provincie op 23 juni SARS-vrij werd verklaard, bleef het internetgebruik hoog. ,,Het lijdt geen twijfel dat de SARS-epidemie goed is geweest voor internet in Hongkong'', meent woordvoerder Peter Steyn van Nielsen Netratings. ,,Nu is het vraag of dit op de langere termijn zo blijft.''


SARS zorgde in Hongkong voor een toename van 13 procent in het internetgebruik. Die stijging vond plaats in april, op het hoogtepunt van de SARS-epidemie. Zo'n 6,8 miljoen Hongkong-chinezen zaten tijdens de SARS-periode gemiddeld 22,5 uur per maand op het web. Voor de uitbraak van de ziekte was dat 16 uur.


,,Het bezoek aan websites van banken, kranten, medische informatie en onderwijsinstellingen groeide tot recordhoogten'', zegt Steyn. De pagina's van reisbureaus en luchtvaart hadden het heel moeilijk. Nadat de stad officieel SARS-vrij was, steeg het aantal bezoekers aan reissites met 37 procent.


Na China is Hongkong het zwaarst getroffen door SARS. De longziekte kostte daar aan minstens 297 mensen het leven.

Monday, June 23, 2003

SARS roztáčí asijské internetové obchody

www.idnes.cz, Prague

Strach ze SARS v asijských zemích prudce zvedl tržby internetových obchodů. Lidé se kvůli smrtícímu plicnímu viru bojí vycházet na ulici. Firmy, které jsou schopné prodávat zboží po síti, zaznamenaly obrat vyšší o polovinu, naopak "kamenné" obchody trpí. Stoupl i zájem o internetové bankovnictví.

Z výzkumu společnosti Nielsen/Netratings v Hongkongu vyplynulo, že počet uživatelů internetu v SARS nejpostiženější zemi světa v dubnu stoupl o třináct procent na 2,45 milionu.

"Jakmile v dubnu opanoval Hongkong strach ze SARS, lidé dali přednost surfování na internetu před bloumáním po ulicích a stáním ve frontách. Také své peníze raději spravují po síti," konstatoval marketingový šéf Nielsenu Peter Steyn.

Počet uživatelů hongkongského nákupního portálu, který patří největšímu maloobchodnímu řetězci Park 'n' Shop, stoupl o nečekaných 161 procent, on-line banking využívalo o čtvrtinu lidí více.

Rostly ale i jiné internetové stránky. Některé školy například na web přemístily část vyučování, stoupl zájem o zpravodajství a zdravotnické informace.

Podobně bouřlivý vývoj zájmu o nakupování on-line zaznamenala i Čína. Tamní trh je ale stále poměrně výrazně svázán potřebou lidí sáhnout si na kupované zboží a omezeným použitím platebních karet.

Lidé se obrátili hlavně na prodejce knih, filmů a ostatní zábavy, a také na internetové drogerie nabízející dezinfekční prostředky.

V Číně je téměř 60 milionů uživatelů internetu, za což jí patří druhé místo na světě. Tři čtvrtiny z nich od vypuknutí epidemie SARS navštívily internetový obchod. Těch je zemi zhruba tisíc, uvedla ČTK.

Saturday, May 31, 2003

Mua sắm trực tuyến ở Hong Kong tăng nhờ… SARS

Saigon, Vietnam

Theo công ty nghiên cứu thị trường Nielsen/NetRatings, từ tháng 2 đến tháng 4, khách hàng đi chợ trên mạng ở Hong Kong tăng từ 2,2 lên 2,4 triệu người. Nỗi lo sợ về bệnh viêm đường hô hấp cấp khiến cho dịch vụ mua sắm, giao dịch trên Internet nở rộ.

Peter Steyn, nhà phân tích của Nielsen, cho biết virus SARS đã làm cho nhiều hoạt động kinh doanh ở đây trì trệ, nhưng lĩnh vực thương mại điện tử lại khả quan do có nhiều người thích mua hàng và giao dịch ngân hàng qua mạng hơn là đến những nơi đông đúc.

Parknshop.com, website của loạt siêu thị do Hutchison Whampoa quản lý, có tới 78.830 khách hàng, tăng 161% so với 2 tháng đầu năm. Site nổi tiếng Yahoo Shopping/Auction đạt 429.710 người dùng trong tháng 4, tăng 16%.

Trong hai tháng 3 và 4, giao dịch ngân hàng qua mạng tăng 25% ở Hong Kong. Trong đó, site của Ngân hàng Han Seng có 229.130 khách hàng truy cập, tăng 41%, HSBC có 374.500, tăng 34%. Tuy nhiên, các trang web bán vé máy bay, du lịch, xem phim giảm mạnh. Ví dụ trang Cinema.com.hk giảm 24%, chỉ có 108.100 người.

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Online sales hoped to outlive SARS

by Alan Low (iafrica.com)
Posted Wed, 28 May 2003

For the past two months, Hong Kong web portals have seen soaring usage and booming sales of everything from DVDs to bleach as fears over SARS made sure the only place residents visited was cyberspace.


But with signs that the worst of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak is over and as more residents venture into crowded streets and shopping malls, internet executives are hoping the killer virus has led to a permanent change of attitudes toward shopping on the web.

Peter Steyn, director of sales and marketing at Nielsen/Netratings, which tracks internet usage, said home online users rose 13 percent in April, the first month fully reflecting the impact of SARS, which struck in mid-March, compared to February.

"As worries over SARS gripped Hong Kong in April, consumers turned more to the internet to find shopping deals and check out their finances instead of walking in crowded places and standing in queues," said Steyn.

Grocery and banking websites recorded highest surge in hits

Grocery and banking websites were among those recording the highest surge in hits.

"Grocery store Parknshop.com experienced huge growth with visitor numbers up 161 percent since the SARS outbreak," said Steyn. Numbers of cyber surfers visiting the Bank of China's site soared 58 percent over the same period.

In addition to shopping, the net also proved hugely popular for providing up-to-date SARS news for homebound Hong Kongers with usage of news sites leaping 40 percent.

Surfing for SARS bulletins also proved popular among the estimated 60 million internet users in China, where SARS first emerged in the southern province of Guangdong in November.

Baidu, a Chinese language search engine based in Beijing, the world's worst-hit SARS city with 160 deaths and 2465 cases, reported an overall nine percent rise in daily hits last month.

Sohu.com also noted SARS was its most popular search item, generating some 30 000 entries a day.

It was estimated that at peak times, more than one million people in Beijing were trying to get online at the same time jamming connections so that even making a phone call proved difficult.

Is it sustainable?

However, with signs the outbreak is slowing in both Hong Kong and mainland China, industry executives have expressed doubts whether the surge in web use, and hence online sales, is sustainable.

The deadly SARS respiratory virus, for which no cure or vaccine exists, has killed 262 people in Hong Kong from more than 1700 infections, though there have been markedly fewer new SARS cases in recent weeks.

Steyn said it would be interesting to see how many new net users continued to use online services - particularly shopping portals. "It could end up being a silver lining on the SARS cloud.

"I doubt if usage will fall back to the pre-SARS January level ... but whether it will be as high as SARS-levels, I don't think so."

Yahoo! Hong Kong, the territory's number one website in terms of users and traffic, which in April reported a more than 100-percent surge in online sales revenue, expressed concern the rise was not sustainable.

"We are not sure what will happen once SARS is over, but we hope people who had fears about online security will now be encouraged to keep using online shopping services now they have tried them and found them to be safe," said Arthur Chow, Marketing Manager at Yahoo!.

Spokesperson for Park n Shop, Theresa Pang, said online sales had now "settled at around 20 percent higher since the onset of SARS, or 60 percent higher than for the same time last year".

"We hope it doesn't fall back to pre-SARS levels and hopefully we can sustain the 20 percent growth going forward."

Online sales for travel websites, which fell last month as residents shunned travel because of fears of contracting SARS from infected passengers, was expected to rebound after the World Health Organisation lifted an April 2 warning against travel to Hong Kong and neighbouring Guangdong last Friday.

The China Travel website, which saw a 24-percent fall in hits in April, has already recorded a pickup this month along with other travel websites as people rush to take advantage of cut-price travel deals.

AFP

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Bezoek online winkels stijgt door SARS

Bezoekersaantallen van online winkels in Azi? zijn door de vrees voor longziekte SARS flink gestegen. Het internetgebruik thuis is in de getroffen gebieden in april vergeleken met februari 13 procent gestegen, blijkt uit cijfers van Nielsen/Netratings.

,,Sinds de zorgen over de besmettelijke ziekte Hongkong troffen, mijdt de consument drukke buitenplaatsen en wendt zich tot internet voor zijn boodschappen en bankzaken'', zegt Peter Steyn van onderzoeksbureau Nielsen/Netratings.

De bezoekersaantallen van online supermarkt parknshop.com zijn met 161 procent gestegen. De website van de Bank of China registreerde een toename van 58 procent. Parknshop hoopt de bezoekers vast te kunnen houden nu de epidemie over zijn piek lijkt

In Hongkong zijn tot maandag 262 mensen overleden aan SARS, er zijn meer dan 1700 mensen ge?nfecteerd met de besmettelijke longziekte.

HK residents feel safe in cyberspace

INCOMMUNICABLE VIRUSES: Web sites that cater to the daily needs of shoppers, such as grocery delivery and banking sites, are the beneficiaries of SARS caution

AFP, HONG KONG
Monday, May 26, 2003, Page 10

For the past two months, Hong Kong web portals have seen soaring usage and booming sales of everything from DVDs to bleach as fears over SARS made sure the only place residents visited was cyberspace.

But with signs that the worst of the SARS outbreak is over and as more residents venture into crowded streets and shopping malls, Internet executives are hoping the killer virus has led to a permanent change of attitudes toward shopping on the web.

Peter Steyn, director of sales and marketing at Nielsen/Netratings, which tracks Internet usage, said home online users rose 13 percent last month, the first month fully reflecting the impact of SARS, which struck in mid-March, compared to February.

"As worries over SARS gripped Hong Kong [last month], consumers turned more to the Internet to find shopping deals and check out their finances instead of walking in crowded places and standing in queues," said Steyn.

Grocery and banking websites were among those recording the highest surge in hits.

"Grocery store Parknshop.com experienced huge growth with visitor numbers up 161 percent since the SARS outbreak," said Steyn. Numbers of cyber surfers visiting the Bank of China's site soared 58 percent over the same period.

In addition to shopping, the Net also proved hugely popular for providing up-to-date SARS news for homebound Hong Kongers with usage of news sites leaping 40 percent.

Surfing for SARS bulletins also proved popular among the estimated 60 million Internet users in China, where SARS first emerged in the southern province of Guangdong in November.

Baidu, a Chinese-language search engine based in Beijing, the world's worst-hit SARS city with 160 deaths and 2,465 cases, reported an overall 9 percent rise in daily hits last month.

Sohu.com also noted SARS was its most popular search item, generating some 30,000 entries a day.

It was estimated that at peak times, more than one million people in Beijing were trying to get online at the same time jamming connections so that even making a phone call proved difficult.

However, with signs the SARS outbreak is slowing in both Hong Kong and China, many industry executives have expressed doubts as to whether the surge in web use, and hence online sales, is sustainable.

The deadly SARS respiratory virus, for which no cure or vaccine exists, has killed 262 people in Hong Kong from more than 1,700 infections, though there have been markedly fewer new SARS cases in recent weeks.

Steyn said it would be interesting to see how many new Net users continued to use online services -- particularly shopping portals.

"It could end up being a silver lining on the SARS cloud. I doubt if usage will fall back to the pre-SARS January level ... but whether it will be as high as SARS-levels, I don't think so," Steyn said.

Yahoo! Hong Kong, the territory's number one website in terms of users and traffic, which last month reported a more than 100-percent surge in online sales revenue, expressed concern the rise was not sustainable.

"We are not sure what will happen once SARS is over, but we hope people who had fears about online security will now be encouraged to keep using online shopping services now they have tried them and found them to be safe," said Arthur Chow, marketing manager at Yahoo!.

Spokeswoman for Park-n-Shop, Theresa Pang, said online sales had now "settled at around 20 percent higher since the onset of SARS, or 60 percent higher than for the same time last year".

"We hope it doesn't fall back to pre-SARS levels and hopefully we can sustain the 20 percent growth going forward," said Pang.

This story has been viewed 2394 times.

Monday, May 26, 2003

SARS Boosts HK Consumers' Online Confidence


May 26 2003 : Banks and online retailers in Asia are hoping that once the worst of the SARS pandemic passes, new levels of online banking and sales will remain buoyant as Internet users overcome initial security fears. In Hong Kong, Datamonitor confirms Internet banking rates to have increased by up to 40 per cent as branch traffic shifts to a less 'risky' channel, whereas previous penetration rates were about 8 per cent. Similarly, Hong Kong-based retailer, Park-n-Shop, reports online sales to be "20 per cent higher since the onset of SARS, or 60 per cent higher" than a year ago, while its web traffic has grown by 161 per cent.

Datamonitor says these trends "show the positive potential of disruptive forces such as SARS", which has driven branch traffic down by more than 50 per cent in key Asian markets. As such, "many financial services consumers are retaining their ability to access their financial services products via the Internet", notes analyst, Virginia Garcia. "In the longer term, this channel shift will prompt strategic investments in associated support infrastructure", Garcia advises, and "financial institutions must quickly adjust their ... service strategy... or risk losing customers once convenience overtakes necessity as a critical driver".

With Bank of East Asia, Hong Kong's fifth-largest bank, reporting e-banking transactions in April to have increased to a "mid-double digit" month-on-month total, the next step for banks will be to add security to their online services to assuage users' concerns once the SARS crisis tails off. Internet use in Hong Kong rose 13 per cent in April, according to Nielsen/NetRatings, while the Bank of China's site gained a 58 per cent increase in surfers. Peter Steyn, of Nielsen/NetRatings, doubts that online shopping "usage will fall back to pre-SARS levels", while Yahoo! Hong Kong hopes Internet users will continue shopping online.

Sunday, May 25, 2003

Internet firms hope soaring HK Internet sales will outlive SARS



HONG KONG, May 25 (AFP) - For the past two months, Hong Kong web portals have seen soaring usage and booming sales of everything from DVDs to bleach as fears over SARS made sure the only place residents visited was cyberspace.

But with signs that the worst of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak is over and as more residents venture into crowded streets and shopping malls, Internet executives are hoping the killer virus has led to a permanent change of attitudes toward shopping on the web.

Peter Steyn, director of sales and marketing at Nielsen/Netratings, which tracks Internet usage, said home online users rose 13 percent in April, the first month fully reflecting the impact of SARS, which struck in mid-March, compared to February.

"As worries over SARS gripped Hong Kong in April, consumers turned more to the Internet to find shopping deals and check out their finances instead of walking in crowded places and standing in queues," said Steyn.

Grocery and banking websites were among those recording the highest surge in hits.

"Grocery store Parknshop.com experienced huge growth with visitor numbers up 161 percent since the SARS outbreak," said Steyn. Numbers of cyber surfers visiting the Bank of China's site soared 58 percent over the same period.

In addition to shopping, the Net also proved hugely popular for providing up-to-date SARS news for homebound Hong Kongers with usage of news sites leaping 40 percent.

Surfing for SARS bulletins also proved popular among the estimated 60 million Internet users in China, where SARS first emerged in the southern province of Guangdong in November.

Baidu, a Chinese language search engine based in Beijing, the world's worst-hit SARS city with 160 deaths and 2,465 cases, reported an overall nine percent rise in daily hits last month.

Sohu.com also noted SARS was its most popular search item, generating some 30,000 entries a day.

It was estimated that at peak times, more than one million people in Beijing were trying to get online at the same time jamming connections so that even making a phone call proved difficult.

However, with signs the outbreak is slowing in both Hong Kong and mainland China, industry executives have expressed doubts whether the surge in web use, and hence online sales, is sustainable.

The deadly SARS respiratory virus, for which no cure or vaccine exists, has killed 262 people in Hong Kong from more than 1,700 infections, though there have been markedly fewer new SARS cases in recent weeks.

Steyn said it would be interesting to see how many new Net users continued to use online services -- particularly shopping portals. "It could end up being a silver lining on the SARS cloud.

"I doubt if usage will fall back to the pre-SARS January level ... but whether it will be as high as SARS-levels, I don't think so."

Yahoo! Hong Kong, the territory's number one website in terms of users and traffic, which in April reported a more than 100-percent surge in online sales revenue, expressed concern the rise was not sustainable.

"We are not sure what will happen once SARS is over, but we hope people who had fears about online security will now be encouraged to keep using online shopping services now they have tried them and found them to be safe," said Arthur Chow, Marketing Manager at Yahoo!.

Spokeswoman for Park n Shop, Theresa Pang, said online sales had now "settled at around 20 percent higher since the onset of SARS, or 60 percent higher than for the same time last year".

"We hope it doesn't fall back to pre-SARS levels and hopefully we can sustain the 20 percent growth going forward."

Online sales for travel websites, which fell last month as residents shunned travel because of fears of contracting SARS from infected passengers, was expected to rebound after the World Health Organisation lifted an April 2 warning against travel to Hong Kong and neighbouring Guangdong last Friday.

The China Travel website, which saw a 24-percent fall in hits in April, has already recorded a pickup this month along with other travel websites as people rush to take advantage of cut-price travel deals.

Thursday, May 22, 2003

Virus forces shoppers online

Staff reporter

Hong Kong consumers increased online shopping by 13 per cent after the Sars outbreak, according to Nielsen/NetRatings.

Total Internet shoppers in April rose to 2.4 million from 2.2 million in February, the market research firm said.

``Consumers turned to the Internet for online shopping and banking, preferring to browse the Internet for shopping deals and check out their finances online rather than walk in crowded places or stand in queues,'' said the firm's director of sales and marketing Peter Steyn.

Parknshop.com, the website of the supermarket chain controlled by Hutchison Whampoa, recorded the largest percentage gain of 161 per cent to 78,830 users. The most popular site remained Yahoo Shopping/Auction, which rose 16 per cent to 429,710 users in April.

``It will be interesting to see how many of these new users continue to use online shopping sites, now they have visited once,'' said Steyn. ``It may end up being a silver lining on the Sars cloud for some of the online retailers.''

Online banking also gained popularity amid the Sars crisis with overall users rising by 25 per cent. Users of Bank of China's website rose by 58 per cent from February to 68,760 users in April, Hang Seng Bank's by 41 per cent to 229,130 and HSBC by 34 per cent to 374,500.

Declines were recorded in movie, event ticket and travel booking sites as people opted for in-home pursuits over out-of-home entertainment and travel, Nielsen/NetRatings said, with Cinema.com.hk, for example, suffering a 24 per cent decrease of users to 108,100.