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eCommerce in NZ – Will it ever catch on?

A recent article in SmartMoney Australia magazine (read here), reminded me of how far behind we are ‘downunder’. The magazine was interviewing a successful, high growth Auzzie software company, Big Commerce, that sells its e-shopping technology into the US.

logoYoung co-founder Mitchell Harper commented that the US e-commerce adoption was 3-4 years ahead of Australia. It’s often said the NZ market for eCommerce is 3-4 years behind Auzzie. There’s many reasons for this. But should businesses be  concerned?

Some retailers here are already complaining how they’re losing sales to online US providers. Yes, the lower cost and good exchange rates are a factor, but I’m sure the convenience factor has a lot to do with it too.

Local technology costs are another factor holding things back. What’s the cost to setup and run a professional ecommerce store here? For small sized businesses $10,000+ is typical and larger sites around $25,000 setup, plus monthly fees is common. Ironically, it’s this very market that Big Commerce has entered, providing highly affordable, high functioning eCommerce stores that rival the proprietary $20,000 versions. All for under $100/mth plus any (optional) custom design fees, which can typically be done for a $1,000, often much less. The only real cost usually comes from ‘stocking’ and maintaining content, which is needed for any online store.

Is this the way of eCommerce? Definitely. Latest tools like BigCommerce make setting up a slick online store affordable and low risk. These Auzzie guys are flying too, passing more established US developers like Shopify and dozens of others. (read more)

logostoreThere is another ‘downunder’ developer we like. Instinct in Wellington. They have a slick shopping cart add-on for WordPress used by 50,000+ websites worldwide. WordPress is the worlds most popular CMS platform. NZ-hosted, WordPress-driven home/small business blog + shopping websites we can now be professionally built for under $2,000. Special themes (example) can be used to help slash design time and costs. All this means you get almost 80% of the ‘high-end’ features and looks, for under 20% of the cost. Some of the incredible Analytics features included within the WordPress shop often exceed those found in the $15,000 e-stores….

logoflowThe other bonus with both these ‘downunder’ eCommerce tools, is that unlike most cheap e-shopping options out of the US, store payments can go directly into your NZ bank account, not Paypal. Here we utilise either Paymate out of Auzzie, or another local company, flo2cash that provides some highly innovative and safe payment services.

(email us for details on all this)

It seems we have the skills downunder to develop advanced, cost-effective technologies to help small businesses. Just no local market willing to use it. Putting our heads in the sand when it comes to ‘online technology’ in business seems to be a national pastime – A real shame and a missed opportunity for many here.

p.s. The other good thing with plummeting costs of eCommerce technology, is that businesses will likely then have funds available to actually market their new e-store, both online and offline. So often the costs of building a new website or store leave little to promote it and get sales.  See also: *Techday – Too Many NZ Business still not online    *Mashable article on WordPress


One Response to “eCommerce in NZ – Will it ever catch on?”

  1. Good article, Kevin. The WordPress e-commerce model is a huge untapped source of revenue for potential merchants. It gives me a sense of pride that the popular e-commerce plug-in WP e-commerce was developed here in New Zealand.

    Posted by Alison Griffiths | August 3, 2011, 9:11 pm

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