SEIZING NEW OPPORTUNITIES UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES
Now a common sight in Hong Kong shopping malls, pop-up stores display the latest merchandise from both established retailers and start-ups. Some are staffed, while others are display-only. Recently, an improved, smarter pop-up store has arrived: PopSquare.
The brainchild of HKUST alumnus Francis Kwok, PopSquare is a pop-up shop powered by AI and Big Data; it can detect any person that approaches within 1 meter of the stall and display additional information about a product. It is also equipped with digital payment terminals that allow any shopper to pay for an item instantly. But that’s not all – these smart kiosks can be connected to other PopSquare stalls, thus enabling a single business or individual to control multiple stores remotely.
Famous for its high operating costs, Hong Kong is the perfect retail market to deploy PopSquare, Francis argues. Traditional retail stores require lengthy lease contracts, and obviously the sales staff have to be paid as well. With PopSquare, such expenditures can be reduced if not eliminated entirely.
In addition to helping clients display products in premier Hong Kong retail locations like the Hong Kong Land and Sino Malls, Francis is ready to give a boost to businesses that want to expand their presences overseas. To this end, PopSquare recently announced a tie up with European commercial property giant URW to deploy these next era pop-up stores in the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Belgium.
Exploiting big data and marketing information isn’t new to Francis of course. He is the founder of Radica, a regional powerhouse that provides marketing solutions for corporations such as LVMH, Starbucks, Ctrip and the HKTDC.
Francis certainly didn’t have an easy path to the top, graduating from HKUST with a BSc in Physics when the dotcom bubble burst. Thanks to the help of his alma mater, Francis and two other fellow HKUST alums established Radica in 2000; they had precious little work experience but lots of courage and resourcefulness. “The first few years were incredibly challenging, we had very little business and some of my partners left,” remembers Francis. “I’ll never forget the first major breakthrough however, and that was in 2003 when Global Resources signed a contract with us over a number of more established competitors."
More than a decade later, Francis clearly isn’t resting on his laurels. Big Data and AI are transforming retail and shopping – and we can count on Radica, PopSquare and Francis – to be at the forefront of this revolution.
Know more about Francis from:
Startup Beat - 20 December 2019
Sky Post - 19 June 2015
AM 730 - 29 September 2015