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KPMG China partner: Industry 4.0 to drive HK smart city future

Yip said these innovations should instil the value of sustainability in manufacturers.

Alice Yip is KPMG China’s Partner and Head of Audit – Consumer & Retail for Hong Kong. She is experienced in handling initial public offerings and has assisted many enterprises in fundraising in the United States and Hong Kong capital markets. She is also actively involved in a number of cross-border projects for her clients.

For more than 25 years, Yip has been providing professional services to clients in the consumer, retail, and industrial sectors. With her industry knowledge, she frequently speaks to companies and leaders about changing industry trends and the new reality that is being driven by digital transformation, data analytics, and consumer behaviour involving various media channels.

Talking about Hong Kong’s current manufacturing landscape, she mentioned how evolving business models and mindsets give plenty of opportunities for entrepreneurs to rethink the core purpose of their businesses.

“It is a good time to invest in improvements to their digital touchpoints and point-of-sales to engage customers and enhance the user experience,” Yip said.

KPMG China’s partner sat down with Hong Kong Business to share insights on the latest industry trends, how to leverage professional services in the retail and industrial sectors, and the opportunities that await Hong Kong entrepreneurs amidst the “new normal”.

In a fast-changing world, trends usually occur in every industry, especially with digital transformation. What can you suggest for businesses to keep up with these trends?

 Not all trends are meant to be followed by every business. Businesses need to know their core customers well and serve their specific needs. The trends arising from the evolving lifestyles of consumers need to be closely observed by businesses. To keep up, businesses need to address the gaps between their services and consumer needs.

In your own opinion, how can a business overcome challenges during an unexpected crisis? What do you think would be the right action to leverage professional services in the retail and industrial sectors?

To survive and be sustainable, especially during an unexpected crisis, all business owners and shareholders need to have a longer-term vision rather than focus on short-term gains.

Businesses need to work laterally with other companies in the same industry, to share insights and ask for help – a horizontal collaboration / “co-opetition.” As for the vertical dimension throughout the supply chain, businesses should engage with stakeholders across their supply chain to ensure those partners can weather the storm. 

Professional services firms in the retail and industrial sectors can offer their knowledge and insights to businesses in the industry and could help businesses to identify areas for improvement through benchmarking exercises and gap analysis.

Now that business operations are returning to normal after the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, what could be the opportunities waiting ahead for entrepreneurs in Hong Kong?

With new ways of working and doing commerce, evolving business models and mindsets in this new normal have given entrepreneurs a lot of opportunities to rethink the core purpose of their businesses.

Consumers are more digitally savvy and are used to online shopping. It is a good time to invest in improvements to their digital touchpoints and point-of-sales to engage with customers and enhance the user experience. This will help to improve online sales conversions as well as result in a higher level of returning customers. Our recent research shows that over 70% of Hong Kong consumers think that brands should have better connections between their online and offline touchpoints.

What advice can you give organisations in developing new projects? Do you have any tips for them to continue being the leading company in the industry?

If new products are being developed through an in-house research and development team, one can consider applying for tax deduction incentives.

To be the leading company in an industry, businesses need to not only know their customers well but also be known by them. Regular and relatable personal interactions with customers are the key to retaining them.

Where do you see Hong Kong’s manufacturing industry in the near future? Are there any key trends to watch out for in the coming years?

With the development of new and innovative manufacturing capacities in Hong Kong, such as the Advanced Manufacturing Centre of HKSTP, we will see a new phase of Made in Hong Kong. We have experts in Hong Kong who are pioneers in creating new materials for high-performance sportswear and technology for the circular economy, such as Garment to Garment by HKRITA. There is also a myriad of innovative solutions scattered across various incubators and accelerators in Hong Kong. We shall see more corporations embrace such innovative disruptors and transform themselves into sustainable manufacturers.

Industry 4.0 will also be a driving force for Hong Kong’s smart city future. The production of tools that enable smart solutions for a more livable city will be produced in Hong Kong for Hong Kong.

As a past judge for Made and Design in Hong Kong, are there any changes in your key criteria for choosing the winners?

The ability to contribute to sustainability is a key criterion. It is imperative for all businesses to pull their weight in striving for global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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