1 Aug 2016
E-commerce: Low Cost Entry for E-Retail Start-ups (Interview with Kimature)
Kim Chan has been passionate about developing nature beauty products using locally grown organic herbs since childhood. She has a strong belief that local herbs are most suitable for Hong Kong people’s skin, as each local environment is best suited to supporting its inhabitants.
With the help of a local e-commerce site builder, Chan founded the Kimature online store in 2015, selling natural herbal beauty products.
Before entering the highly competitive skincare market, she showcased her products on Facebook, YouTube and other social media to test the waters. She was delighted to find that her business concept and products have received a lot of interest, positive feedback and even small orders from her target market, interacting with consumers through various social networking sites.
Kimature’s target market is Hong Kong women aged between 30 and 50 who are aware of the potential harm of chemicals in many skincare products and who are looking for natural and organic alternatives. With the views and feedback obtained online, she was able to fine-tune products to better suit customer needs and create a unique positioning for the brand.
Chan was clear about the valuable role social media has in testing and developing a brand proposition. She said: “The flourishing of social media has provided us with a free channel to discover what people think about the business idea before I started my operation in full. Without these fabulous online communities as my testing ground, I might not have taken on the high risk of running my own skin products production line.”
Taking a rather cautious approach, Kimature was able to breakeven after just three months in operation. Today, Chan even operates a production line for her own products after successful concept testing, giving her confidence that the business is here to stay.
For now, Kimature serves only local market. Company Co-Founder, Edward Ian, said: “We have had enquiries from overseas. We see a lot of growth potential abroad, as westerners value natural products made with Chinese herbs and they have faith in products made in Hong Kong. We have to turn them down as we are not very confident in handling payment and logistics outside Hong Kong.”
Various e-commerce solutions are available in Hong Kong. Chan and Ian admitted that they have not spent the time and effort to explore these options at this stage, as the business is still very young. To bridge this information gap, the government may consider providing more support to online start-ups, particularly supplying information about cross-border payment solutions and regulatory issues.