Charting the New Retail Landscape in a New Era
PARKnSHOP, one of the leading supermarket chains in Hong Kong, is a founding member of GS1 HK. Started from a single store 50 years ago, PARKnSHOP has now become a network of around 260 stores. Norman Yum, Managing Director of the company, bears witness to the evolution and progress of the company, “Having worked in the retail industry for decades including China, Singapore, Thailand, India and beyond, I stay true to my 4 credos and pursuits along the journey – be passionate and thorough in the retail sector; always moving forward; think out of the box; and keep surprising customers. Like a creative agency, we always find new ideas to put a smile on our customers’ faces.”
Breaking New Grounds for the Changing Customers
Responding to the rising online shopping trends among Hongkongers, PARKnSHOP has invested HK$200 million to accelerate digital transformation and expand its O+O (Offline plus Online) business. The retail chain has been deploying new technological applications to enhance the shopping experience, including self-checkouts (SCOs) , electronic shelf labels, smart disinfection robots, eShop and mobile app upgrades, and more. “We have recorded double-digit growth in our online sales in the past two years, and expect the momentum to continue in future years. To create more seamless O+O shopping experience for customers, we are also planning to open more physical stores, at a rate of 10 new stores this year.”
On top of that is the development of a 300,000-square-foot “Super e-Commerce Distribution Centre (Super EDC)” in Kwai Chung, which can handle 3 times the inventory volume of the company’s current capability. With phase 1 of the center scheduled to run by November this year, the facility is almost fully automated – equipped with Automatic Guided Vehicles (AGVs) and backed by new technologies such as artificial intelligence and data analytics, it will be able to handle online orders 24x7, and is expected to make same-day delivery for orders placed in the morning.
“There had always been shortages of workers for warehouses, let alone those with experience. With the pandemic posing tremendous challenges on staffing, we turned to automation for the solution, and it has helped to raise our efficiency by 50%.” To cope with panic buying during the pandemic, the group coupled automation with shorter operation hours, flexible staffing, and collaborated with suppliers to arrange same-day delivery to meet surges in demand.
Cumulative Efforts Over the Years
PARKnSHOP has always been a pioneer in technology, the fact that it started adopting barcode technology more than 30 years ago is solid proof.
“Sticking price labels and checking out products involved a lot of manpower in the old days, so as we first saw the electronic technology, we became the forerunner to introduce GS1’s product barcode to streamline many of our operation processes like check-out, stock replenishment, and supply chain management. Barcode technology is much more than price labels, it signified the dawn of an era of information technology and data.”
Unveiling another new era is the use of 2D barcode (QR code), which the major U.S. retailers have agreed to adopt gradually starting in 2027. Learning of GS1 HK’s “1QR”, PARKnSHOP has decided to apply QR codes on its own brand “FARMFRESH”. “The small yet multi-functional ‘1QR’ enables our customers to scan and check product details, combat counterfeit, as well as trace origins of the products, that’s why it earns our wholehearted support.”
PARKnSHOP has also leveraged Verified by GS1 service, which greatly reduced the GTIN (barcode) validation process from a few days to a few hours. Not only does it free the staff to focus on the core business, but also enhanced customer experience online with consistent and reliable information. “Verified by GS1 has creates a triple win for brands, retailers, and consumers: simplifying the data sharing process for brands, accelerating the listing process for retailers, and ultimately, providing reliable product information and a richer experience for consumers.”
No Formula to Success Except Constant Innovation
Norman believes the retail industry is now in a new time: even after the pandemic, consumers will continue to shop online, but the physical store still has its room to thrive. The leading supermarket chain has never stopped inventing new business model for growth: Taking its TASTE x FRESH stores in Kowloon Bay and Tsuen Wan as examples, which offers an extravaganza of products – apart from groceries, there are sections offering fresh seafood, vegetables, poultry and meat, ready-made takeaways, all under a single roof with a premium experience. To fulfill the local consumers’ appetite for Japanese and Korean food, PARKnSHOP introduced “Oishī Su-pa- ” Japanese and Korean shop in shop concept store in 2020, and will gradually add more Southeast Asian delicacies into its portfolio. The retailer has also collaborated with the delivery platform to launch a new service called “Deliveroo HOP”, which provides groceries delivery. Around 2,000 different products are available, which can be delivered fastest in 10 minutes to customers in the Central and Western districts on Hong Kong Island.
"Working in the retail industry is like rowing upstream. We do not build on the past success, and always look for ways to innovate to stay competitive and progress."
Partners, Network, Members – A Unique Positioning
A lot of stores have turned to selling Japanese and Korean food and other related products, crowding the retail space and intensifying competition. In response to the trend, Norman said PARKnSHOP stands strong because of its advantages – great partners’ network, 260 physical stores, and more than 4 million MoneyBack members. “We often do cross-over with brands and manufacturers like Jack’nJill, Calbee, Lee Kam Kee, Hung Fok Tong, Lay’s and others to launch products exclusive to our shops, and always make sure stable supplies from all over the world. Meanwhile, our online customers can enjoy Click & Collect service to pick up at one of our 200 stores, or arrange home delivery, covering all the key areas in the city. Beyond that, we would reward our VIP members who spend a great deal at our shops, with exclusive discounts, free gifts, double points and more.”
Keep Leading with ESG Initiative
Earlier, PARKnSHOP and Food Angel together launched the first smart food donation machine in Hong Kong supermarkets, across 50 PARKnSHOP stores, where shoppers can donate food to earn points in their MoneyBack account. In the past decade, PARKnSHOP has donated more than 3,500 tons of edible surplus food to Food Angel, which has turned into 10 million free meal boxes and 2 million free food packs to people in need.
"We are also committed to reducing plastic and waste. We have stopped selling plastic straws in all our stores since 2020, and we will stop selling all disposable plastic utensils by the end of this year. Currently, we are trialing the concept of “naked shopping” in 15 stores, where fresh produce will be sold unpackaged. This is just the beginning, and we shall do more on the sustainability front."
Heading a series of activities to celebrate its 50th anniversary, Norman is wildly busy, “Passion is the key to work in the retail business, or else it will be hard. My guiding principles as a leader are, to set clear goals, make good use of data for insights, innovate and keep striving to do better.”