Octopus Cards looks for digital marketing agency for new SME merchant support initiative

Octopus Cards is looking to engage a professional digital marketing agency to assist with its #NeighbourDOOD Merchant Support Scheme. The scheme was created as Octopus Cards looks to deepen its ties within the SMB community in Hong Kong.

Octopus Cards will require the digital marketing agency to help each merchant set up a social media business account, and provide the merchant with a tailored digital promotion strategy. The scheme aims to facilitate small neighbourhood merchants across the city with digital transformation and help them take advantage of the government's consumption voucher scheme (CVS). According to an SCMP article, Octopus Cards will spend more than HK$1 million with this initiative to help support SMBs capitalise on the government’s plan to give every resident HK$5,000 in e-vouchers

At the same time, Octopus Cards will offer each merchant HK$8,000 worth of online media placement and marketing budget for promotion of their unique story and signature products. In all, the Scheme aims to help preserve and promote the city's distinctive cultural and culinary heritage.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on small businesses in Hong Kong, particularly those operating in the retail and F&B sectors. In addition to offering free reader setup and rental fee waiver, Octopus Cards now takes a step further by sponsoring small merchants over a million dollars to help them enhance their digital capabilities.

During the first phase of the Scheme, Octopus Cards is calling for nominations of shops by the general public and shop owners, and will select and engage 108 shops spanning the city's 18 districts – targeting those whose historical and cultural values contribute to the city's identity including traditional local shops, handicraft shops and value-for-money specialty shops.

The shops will  be selected using the following three criteria:

Business size – shops that have been operating for more than a year, have no more than three branches and 50 employees

Locality – shops registered in Hong Kong, particularly local brands; and

Specialty – shops with a history, a unique story, traditional handicraft shops, social enterprises or trades remiscient of local culture

Octopus Cards sales and marketing director Rita Li said the company understands the challenges for small merchants, and it sees the need for these merchants to go digital in order to sustain and thrive. “We want to help them by reaching out to the community and getting customers find their way to them through digital marketing,” said Li. She added that Octopus Cards has been offering fast and convenient electronic payment solutions for small- and medium-sized merchants for over two decades.

“Through the Scheme, we hope to support even more neighbourhood shops to keep pace with the trend of digital transformation. This will not only increase visibility for small merchants and enhance their competitiveness, but also help people from all walks of life meet their shopping needs,” she said. Octopus Cards will promote these shops, their stories and features on Octopus social media platforms and the Octopus App. In mid-June 2021, Octopus Cards will launch the event webpage "#NeighbourDOOD ̶ Nomination of My Favorite Shops", where visitors or shop owners can nominate their favourite "hidden" specialty shops in the city.

According to government data, in the month of May, business sentiment among Hong Kong SMEs stayed cautious in overall terms. Compared with the preceding month, the sub-indices for most sectors fell within the contractionary zone. Nevertheless, that for the restaurants sector held steady in the expansionary zone. A government spokesman added that business sentiment going forward would continue to hinge on the development of the epidemic situation and the pace of global economic recovery. It is thus pivotal for the whole community to do its part to fight the disease together, so as to create favourable conditions for economic activities to revive to the greatest extent.

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