Category Archives: Hong Kong

Double 12 – Alibaba’s Drive Beyond China

Double 12

Have you heard of 12-12 or Double 12?  I bet you have not…Neither has most of the world – but Alibaba is driving hard for that to change.  Less than a month ago, here in China, was the now famous Shuang Shi Yi / Double 11 or 11-11.  The biggest (I think) shopping day in the world.  During the 2017 event on November 11, consumers spent US$25B in one day!  Amazing, isn’t it?  Well it did happen.

China, Singles Day, Alibaba

The graph above sourced from statista.com shows the super fast growth of Alibaba’s revenues from Singles Day…

Now Alibaba is driving the next best thing (for the e-Commerce giant) a second event with a goal to become a major shopping holiday — the Double-12 or 12-12 (December 12th)

China, Alibaba, Double 12, eCommerce

The advertisements for it are all over Shanghai and globally.

Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post — and is NOT shy at all to use its editorial as advertorials to promote its agenda and Double 12 as well.  It is a bit disappointing, but hey, what can you do….

Now, why am I spending time to write about it on this blog?  Because of Alibaba’s relentless focus on growth – it is fascinating – at least for me.  The company, which I think started around year 2000, has been on a tear – introducing a number of innovations – e.g. AliPay to drive electronic payments in China and more importantly making it a very successful platform which together with WeChat has enabled very seamless transactions processing across the country.  I must admit I am a firm believer in the technology and a satisfied customer and user…

The other fascinating aspect of Alibaba is their drive for global expansion.  They did create the largest single day commercial event – the double 11, and now are focused on expanding via Double 12 (linking it to the December holidays) in multiple countries – namely Hong Kong, Thailand, India, the Philippines.

So, in summary, watch out world retail players — Ali (as the company is often referred to in China) is coming…!

 

Hong Kong – What is the Latest Impression Compared to Shanghai

Hong Kong and Shanghai – trading places

Hong Kong is expensive !  How do I give you an idea about what that means?   Well, think of it in relative terms:  Last weekend my wife and I took a trip to this city.  We wanted to spend some time there and see how the city has changed and grown.   What we determined was actually rather surprising.  There were quote a few aspects that made us think of how this part of the world — Hong Kong and Shanghai — is changing.

The price of the flight from Shanghai to Hong Kong and back was US$500 for two people…. The price of a descent hotel room in the intercontinental in Kowloon was $480 per night….Hm….!    This is pretty wild.   Makes me thing about the economic competitiveness of the city.  If it is relatively cheap to get to Hong Kong (we bought the tickets with a 3-day advanced purchase) but the cost of getting hotel accommodations is so high, how can Hong Kong be competitive and attract talent and be a good (cost wise) place to do business…?

We came here with the experience from more than 10 years ago and the inputs from friends of ours – who believed Hong Kong is well organized, efficient, offering great food – but expensive.

Our assessment:

  • The city has become VERY overcrowded.  You do not want to be on the MTR in rush hour;   Queen’s Road Central and Wellington Road in Central are a ZOO – on a Friday night we had hard time walking together….two of us…

China, Hong Kong, MTR

  • We decided to eat in one of the local small restaurants – on Wellington road – Mak’s Noodle (Mak Un Kee) 77 Wellington Street, Central;   While the food was not bad – it was not great either.  We spent about HK$180 for a couple small of noodle dishes and a bowl of shuijiao (soup dumplings)….I.e. the proverbial Hong Kong fast food.   Not low cost and not a complete meal either….
  • Signage was pretty bad – relatively non-existent.    Not sure why?  For a city that prides itself on having tons of tourists come and visit, the degree to which various landmarks were easy to find was very bad!
  • We were shocked at the line of people waiting to get to Victoria peak.   12 years ago my family and I had visited so this time we decided to recreate the trip… Well, not so fast!   We saw the line waiting for The Peak Tram – asked about the wait time – and when we were told ~1.5-2 hours we lost the desire to go.   Afterwards I thought, may be we came at a busy time…?  Turns out the wait was normal…. So, another question then – why if you are so tourist friendly, would you create the infrastructure to have a massive crowd of people waiting for 1.5 hours to get on a tram and spend another hour getting to the Peak?  Beats me….

This brings me to the overall assessment – is Hong Kong losing its competitive edge and attractiveness as a regional mega hub?   

I think it is…!  Don’t get me wrong – Hong Kong still looks and feels very cosmopolitan, with great architecture, and its skyline is still interesting and making a solid impression on tourists 

China, Hong Kong
Hong Kong Island at Night

 

China, Hong Kong, Skyline
View of Hong Kong Island

We live in Shanghai, and this Chinese city is doing all possible to be residents and tourists friendly.   The subways are bright and relatively uncrowded, the streets are well signed and clean…the list can continue longer and longer…