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Start Your E-Commerce Business in Hong Kong - Basic Guide

03 January, 2019

Being the record-holder for the world's freest economy for the past two decades, Hong Kong has become an excellent choice for starting an ecommerce business. Hong Kong is not only an attractive place for investors who want to set up a traditional business, but it is also the best destination for e-commerce companies.

E-commerce business is a growing field that allows investors to connect from all around the world. It also offers you various opportunities to spread to a global audience, in a way that was once impossible for companies without substantial financial and marketing resources.

Entrepreneurs who are willing to open an e-commerce company in Hong Kong can experience various benefits from the city's tax advantages as well as from its ongoing evolution as a leading center for internet entrepreneurship. More importantly, opening an online business in Hong Kong is more accessible than setting up a traditional business because of the lighter initial investments.

Are you interested in getting started with an e-commerce business in Hong Kong, but not sure where to start? If so, this article will provide you with information to know before launching your business.

Why choose Hong Kong for your e-commerce company?

As per a report by the World Bank, Hong Kong is ranked as the fourth country for most efficient and smooth for conducting an e-commerce business. And that's not all!

In Hong Kong, there is an online information portal which is widely known as Statista that has a report on Hong Kong's e-commerce market which states that the the revenue is expected to reveal an annual growth rate of 8%, resulting in a market volume of US$6,487m by 2023. So, you can understand that many e-commerce businesses are being incorporated in Hong Kong.

Setting up an online business in Hong Kong includes various advantages, starting with the city's good taxation system and the internet usage rate to the number of smartphone users. The most important reasons to choose Hong Kong as a base for your e-commerce include-

  • Favorable Taxation Policy
  • Secure Banking System
  • Easy Company Formation
  • Advanced Information and Technology Infrastructure
  • Large numbers of internet users and internet usage at a business level
  • Affordable start-up Costs

In fact, the examples of successful e-commerce startups in Hong Kong include online shops for luxury items, books, clothing, and interior design. These kinds of platforms are designed to upgrade the experience of online shopping. Shoppers can customize or even design their own products, and some platforms give their users the opportunity to interact with each other.

Essential Aspects of Setting up Hong Kong E-Commerce Company

Now that you have made your decision for the business plan outline, where will you open your e-commerce company? As with any business, a little planning goes a long way. Some questions that you need to understand before establishing your e-commerce company in Hong Kong are:

  • Are you going to build your own website or will be you selling on other marketplaces like eBay and Amazon? Where will you be focusing the marketing your products and services? Building your own traffic and buyers on your web domain or leveraging the vast network of big established marketplaces? If the answer to both the questions is yes, then you need to consider your response again. Having focused on one aspect will allow you to sleep better at night.
  • Who are your target customers? Are they in China, Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, USA or Europe? You may say “everyone,â€Â but that is one of the biggest mistakes. Understanding your target buyer is critical, especially in e-commerce when you need to set up your fulfillment plan.
  • Will you use Amazon's FBA (FulFilled by Amazon) or another 3rd party logistics warehouse? Or are you going to store all the stuff in your garage? As a matter of fact, the right engine of an e-commerce business always makes or breaks the company in the long run.
  • Are you taking inventory or drop shipping? What is your business model? Are you buying stock and holding it in a warehouse? Or are you instead of taking less risk and selling someone else's product via drop shipping?

There is no denying the fact that opening an e-commerce business in Hong Kong is much more accessible and more streamlined than most other countries in Asia, but still, you need to figure out the answers to all these questions in order to set up a business without any legal issues. Your e-commerce business should have sound management and your new website should be optimized for all mobile devices, smartphones and tablets.

Establishing Your Hong Kong E-commerce Company

With its peak broadband speeds and low internet censorship, Hong Kong has a highly developed infrastructure for eCommerce startups. All combined with a population who is obsessed with convenience, shopping, and mobile phones makes the perfect breeding ground for an online shopping platform. Once you figure out the answers to all those questions, here are some things that you need to do for establishing your e-commerce company in Hong Kong.

  • Applying For a Bank Account

Once you set up your e-commerce business in Hong Kong, the next big step that you need to do is apply for a bank account. These days, all companies plan to have online banking for their organization, but it has even become more pertinent for you as an e-commerce business. While it is an essential requirement for most companies today, online banking still isn't on all banks in Hong Kong. You can choose HSBC for opening your bank account which you can use on a regular basis.

  • Merchant and Paypal Account

No matter where you are selling your products and services, whether it is your own website or you are selling on eBay or Amazon, you would need a Paypal account for your business. It is free and the process of verification with your new account is also very easy and straightforward. But the multi-dollar question is, do you also need to apply for a merchant account for your e-commerce business?

The answer to this question goes back to who your target customers are. Do they use a Paypal account or another merchant account? As a matter of fact, Hong Kong people use more PayPal accounts as compared to other merchant account, so you could get away with just Paypal if you're targeting the Hong Kong e-commerce market.

  • Get Setup On Marketplaces Like eBay and Amazon

As soon as you set up your e-commerce startup in Hong Kong, the next thing that you need to do is select your marketplace you are targeting. Is your distribution strategy selling on marketplaces like Amazon and eBay? Or if you're targeting the Chinese market, is it Alibaba and Taobao?

Once you figure out the answers to these questions and have prepared all the basics, then it is time to apply to be a seller on the marketplaces in your business plan. While applying for this marketplace, they will ask about your company and (CR) Company Registry number which you will receive when your company is set up. Also, they'll need your bank account number to verify the account and even know where to deposit your funds.

  • Prepare Your Bookkeeping In Order

In order to make sure that all the accounting of your business goes smoothly, keep records of the financial transactions of your e-commerce business. As you may know E-commerce is a fast-paced business that will have a lot of transactions to settle and balance. And if you don't do this, as you go along with all the transactions, then there might be the chance that you end up wasting lots of money and time to find missing documents.

So, several e-commerce entrepreneurs choose Quickbooks Pro Advisor in Hong Kong in order to keep an eye on their accounts, to make sure that every record is in order. When you are just starting, monthly reports of your business might be sufficient for your business. But if you want to keep on top of important milestones and issues, then you should look to set up business alerts.

  • Upkeep for Your Hong Kong E-Commerce Company

Now that you have set up your e-commerce startup in Hong Kong, opened a bank account, and a merchant account with sales channels, it is high time to keep all the things updated.

After your first 18 months you will need to file your company accounts with the Hong Kong IRD (Internal Revenue Department). By using online bookkeeping software such as Quickbooks, and Xero, you can reduce the amount of time a Hong Kong CPA has to spend going through your books.


By now, you should have a better idea about setting up an e-commerce business in the economy of Hong Kong and the steps to establish it without a hitch. Your e-commerce business should have your new website, optimized for all mobile devices, tablets, and smartphones, and should have a sound management scheme.

You also need to provide secure payments and extraordinarily user experience. So, if you are setting up a business in Hong Kong, consult with us at Startupr, and we can provide you with solutions for your e-commerce business. You can contact our representatives for more details for choosing the most suitable business form for your future company and how to incorporate it.


About the Author


Startupr puts you first. This is why our main focus is Startups with global ambitions. We give you the freedom to build your business while we take care of the tedious, administrative tasks, leaving you to concentrate on your dream for your company. As part of our brilliant service, our back end software will automatically send you reminders of important annual filings, and upload your important document to your online account. startupr.hk


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