But this is not the case. In fact, interest in internet shopping in Hong Kong has been slow to evolve, say online companies. Still, a combination of technological advances, strategic marketing and increased consumer confidence may be about to change all of this.
Hong Kong's reluctance to embrace online shopping is partly due to the myriad shopping opportunities that exist on a physical level. Massive, multi-storey shopping malls have become a feature of the landscape, many of them linked to bus or train lines for added convenience, and offering enough shops, restaurants and entertainment options to make a full-day visit to the mall a viable option for the entire family.
Online shopping offers none of this, though it does offer the comforts of shopping from home, the office or even from a mobile phone. Added to this is the enticement of half-price bargains, meaning that shopping malls may be in for some stiff competition after all.
Group buying site Groupon was one of the first online-only businesses to test Hong Kong people's aversion to internet shopping, recalls Danny Yeung, CEO of Groupon Hong Kong.
"This was one of the initial challenges that I faced when I started the company. People said to me, 'Hey, Danny, nobody shops online in Hong Kong due to the convenience factor.' [They noted that] people liked to touch and feel or visit a shop before they buy something," he says.
But there are signs that tradition is beginning to change. "In general, online marketing has not taken off as fast as it has in other developed countries, but I have seen that online marketing has grown very rapidly in the past year in Hong Kong," says Yeung.
Online payment service company PayPal expects that online shopping in Hong Kong will be worth US$2.5 billion (about HK$19.4 billion) by 2015, and says that the trend is already underway.
"[The year] 2011 [witnessed] momentous growth for e-commerce in Hong Kong, with the increasing popularity of online shopping, group-buying ba