How one Hong Kong merchant is bringing Asian pop culture to the world

K-pop and Japanese anime are among some of the most successful and best-known exports of Asian popular culture to the world. While it has become a global phenomenon today, bringing Asian culture and products to the world was the mission of one Hong Kong merchant over 25 years ago.

Founded in 1997, YesAsia is an online merchant specialising in Asian entertainment and products worldwide, ranging from music and anime, to fashion on its YesStyle platform. In an interview for a two-part series on digital payments with ViuTV in Hong Kong, Joshua Lau, founder and CEO of YesAsia Holdings Limited (YesAsia), reflects on how the company has grown and evolved over the years.

Going global was not only an ambition for YesAsia, but their business model and success was centred on this capability. Especially at a time when cross-border eCommerce was still nascent, winning confidence from overseas customers was essential. Right from the start, YesAsia knew they needed to build a seamless shopping experience supported by a globally trusted, efficient digital payments platform able to offer multiple currencies to customers around the world.

It was for this reason, according to Joshua, that PayPal was the clear and strategic choice for payments. In 2000, PayPal partnered with YesAsia as its global payments platform and has since also provided tremendous support to the business. Today, YesAsia has three successful eCommerce platforms with customers from over 50 countries and territories.

Throughout its journey, change has been the only constant for YesAsia. In the early days, shoppers turned to eCommerce platforms in search of entertainment products such as books and CDs. By 2006, this evolved to shoppers seeking more lifestyle products including clothes, cosmetics, and skin care products.

The recent growth of eCommerce has also created greater competition, new customer behaviours and increasing demand for faster shipping. This prompted YesAsia to double-down on digitalisation to stay ahead, including investments in autonomous mobile robots and smart warehousing, artificially intelligent chatbots to enhance their customer service, as well as big data to optimise the customers’ shopping experience.

At the same time, PayPal’s continuous innovation in its global payments platform has helped YesAsia evolve and scale in pace with its growth over the years. PayPal’s seller and buyer protection, fraud prevention, are among the many features that are helping YesAsia continue to win the confidence of its growing customer base globally.

Both episodes, in Cantonese, are available on YouTube. Part 1 | Part 2

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