Made in Macao | Personal Shoppers Without Borders

Jenny Lao-Phillips

We often hear comments that there is not much opportunity for career diversity in Macao. While anyone can find a job in this city where the number of unfilled positions is higher that the number of unemployed, we do not seem to have much choice aside from working in the tourism industry or joining the public services. But with a bit of creativity, local entrepreneurial youth managed to create alternative careers for themselves.

The development of international businesses in the last century has been credited to the innovation in transportation and technology, of course the lowering of economic barriers as well. As it has become easier for businesses to transport products from one end of the world to another, and to communicate with business partners across the globe, consumers are also becoming more demanding in the variety of choicesin merchandise.

We are no longer impressed by one shop selling Korean fashion in Macao, we want to choose among different boutiques in Korea. The ease of travelling and the convenience of online shop nowadays made this not only possible, but easy to do. The creation of Taobao has especially contributed to the new shopping sensation in town, allowing us to buy anything we want with the click of a mouse. Even the problem of having to cross the border to pick up our purchase has been solved.

Whether strolling down the streets or browsing on the net, one cannot fail to notice the increasing number of shops promoting their purchasing agents services. Just five or six years ago, patrons of Taobao were constantly hustling across the border to pick up their purchases. There were one or maybe two retail shops in Macao providing pick-up service for regular customers for purchases on Taobao from Gongbei.

In a few short years, this idea has flourished; many retailers have resorted to becoming part-time purchasing agents. It must have been a real good business because now there are quite a number of these shops. Moreover, the success of these type of brick-and-mortar purchasing businesses has led to more customized services created by young, entrepreneurial ladies who love shopping.

A few years ago, students from the Mainland told me that their part-time job was to shop for customers from their hometown in Macao. Simple enough, their clients placed orders, transferred the money, and these students bought and shipped the products back home for a small service charge. Not much unlike the job of personal shoppers. Whether consciously or not, they have successfully exploited the opportunity from ease of transportation, communication and the marketing of local retailers which is to offer membership discount to secure customer loyalty.

From here, a new type of career is a-dawning in this small town, a combination of the trading and personal- shopper business. With the easy access from Macao to nearby Asian countries, some local entrepreneurs are expanding this purchasing service further.

From shopping for unique products abroad to be sold in their shops, to collecting orders ahead of travelling, more entrepreneurial ladies are using the ease of communication for real time cross border shopping. They take photos of products and shops in Korea, Japan, Thailand, etc. then post the photos online for customers to choose from. These shoppers buy the exact products ordered without having to guess what products can sell, or bearing costs on inventory, some of them don’t even need to have physical shop. So, who doesn’t like making a living out of travelling and shopping? Perhaps our young people will come up with more diversified careers themselves instead of waiting for career opportunities to come up for them.

Categories Opinion