Since trading barriers are eased in cyberspace, many smaller domestic vendors can now sell goods to buyers from anywhere in the world.
A leader in this virtual arena, eBay facilitates this process, making online purchasing straightforward and hassle free.
As the best-known online trading platform for individuals and small businesses, eBay currently has an international presence in 39 markets with approximately 82.3 million active users worldwide. However, eBay's scope of services stretches beyond the mere display of millions of products.
Beginning as an online auction website, eBay now encompasses a portfolio of companies supporting the plethora of activities performed on the internet. Companies like PayPal, Kijiji and Skype help maximise users' trading, retail, advertising, searching, communicating and entertainment experiences.
According to Kerry Wong, regional managing director, eBay Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, "Products are promoted using a wide variety of services, such as PayPal, a reliable payment solution, as well as effective marketing strategies. Also, on every customised site, we ensure local relevance is incorporated into the eBay services," she points out.
To this end, activities catering for local customs are designed and introduced in connection with seasonal promotions. In 2007, eBay launched the first online flower market during the Chinese New Year, a traditional time for people to buy presents, decorations and a whole host of commodities to celebrate the new year.
Unlike traditional marketplaces with limitations on weather, space and opening hours, the online flower market provides round-the-clock services to both stall owners and shoppers, who appreciate blending innovation with a conventional purchasing experience.
"We have helped a number of new businesses to set up their own flower selling enterprises free because there are fewer overheads in cyberspace. Buyers value the convenient platform and new sellers get the opportunity to establish a foothold in the industry," Ms Wong says.
Open all hours
The infusion of local culture into online trading is just one of the initiatives helping eBay link Hong Kong and its custom to the world at large. The 82.3 million active eBay users predominantly buy electronic products and clothing, which are two commodity areas where Hong Kong has a competitive advantage over many other countries. In the future, eBay will continue to showcase Hong Kong brands to overseas markets leveraging on these solid foundations.
Meanwhile, eBay is working on a campaign assisting vendors eyeing opportunities related to the Beijing Olympics. This initiative requires coordination including advertising, shipping and logistical support. Ms Wong believes that Hong Kong will remain a gateway for products traded in and out of China and Hong Kong's ideal location will make it a strategic trading point for purchases related to the Olympics.
Regarding employment, despite the rapid expansion of eBay-registered businesses in the region, the number of employees will not increase at the same rate. Ms Wong explains, "We are not a traditional company with real shops. This allows us to keep a very lean structure in view of manpower."
For established staff at eBay, a team approach is essential to guarantee the unique community feeling prevails. The company's unusual business model, where nothing tangible is created, focuses on bringing people together to exchange, share and grow. This is true for both users and employees.
"Online trading means a 24/7 schedule. It is also a relatively new industry requiring a lot of innovation and creativity. Only people who can appreciate the dynamics of an evolving business will enjoy the lifestyle here," Ms Wong adds.
For executive posts in the marketing team, eBay looks for seasoned professionals who demonstrate a good understanding of e-commerce and the convergence of technologies. They should be able to lead eBay in reaching new media and develop strategies to utilise advertising, in order to fulfil the changing needs of the industry.
"For advertising results, we need people with the ability to measure impact both qualitatively and quantitatively. That is, we have to translate clicks and page views to metrics in terms of revenue per resource that everyone can understand," Ms Wong reveals.
Along with financial benefits, eBay offers personalised development plans to individual team members who can decide where, when and how they proceed in their own career. The company ensures employees are equipped with the necessary skills to achieve their goals but professional direction is ultimately decided by the staff themselves.
"We are working in a highly transparent business. To succeed, you must live it, use it and definitely love it," Ms Wong concludes.