Right now New Zealand businesses will have noticed significant changes resulting from COVID-19.
Technology and innovation seem to be the driving forces for resilience amid the pandemic. While online sales and services were already growing rapidly, the pandemic has catapulted them into overdrive.
While it feels like the 'future' is already here, it’s important for businesses to keep planning ahead.
A group of ten industry experts, including advisors from online platform Shopify, have been helping business.govt.nz create new resources to make it easier for Kiwi businesses to successfully adopt digital commerce practices.
Newshub spoke to Talia Richardson, Strategic Partnerships Manager, Australia and New Zealand for Shopify about how Kiwi businesses can succeed in a post-COVID environment.
"2020 is the year that brought 2030 forward in terms of the acceleration of online commerce. Businesses need to pivot and be flexible to where and how their customers shop, for example providing services like in-store pickup and local delivery," Richardson said.
She suggests brick-and-mortar stores will remain as just one part of a broader commerce strategy, hence business owners need to 'embrace an multi channel presence in order to survive and thrive'.
"Online has proven increasingly important, so investing in your digital strategy now will help future-proof your business. The great thing about digital is you can experiment at a relatively low cost, and change and adapt quickly," she said.
1. Transformation for Kiwi businesses
Richardson said Shopify is currently seeing fundamental shifts in the way brands and consumers interact, and major changes in purchasing behaviour.
A huge number of businesses are adopting e-commerce practices, and more and more consumers are shopping online.
"Consumers are increasingly looking to support local merchants and buy local."
"There is also an increased awareness of the importance of having an multi strategy and selling wherever your customers are (whether that's in-store, online, through marketplaces, social media etc). We've also seen diversification of delivery options including local delivery and in-store pick up," she says.
2. Have a plan
How you adapt your business to online opportunities will depend on your objectives and the nature of your business.
"Having a plan for doing business online is key to success," Director of business.govt.nz Matt Kennedy-Good said. "For some businesses a website is a great idea. For others, it may make more sense to use an online marketplace instead. The key is understanding what will work best for your business."
With help from industry partners and experts, business.govt.nz has created a tool that customises guidance to the needs of different businesses.
"Digital is a huge opportunity for small businesses, but we know it can be hard for them to find the time to figure it out. This is why the resources we created make it easy for Kiwi businesses to figure out what will work for them."
3. Keeping your character in an online world
As more businesses go online, Richardson admits it has become imperative to have a strong, unique brand enabling you to better connect with your customers and stand out from competition.
"Understanding your customers, telling a compelling brand story, communicating your unique selling proposition and focusing on a great customer experience are just as important for online as selling in-person," she said.
"There are many different ways to connect your unique brand with customers, including email marketing, content marketing, and through social media channels like Facebook and Instagram."
"Consumers are paying closer attention to where and how they spend their dollars. No longer is it enough for businesses to provide quality products—consumers want more than that, and they’re willing to build deep allegiances to brands that provide this for them."
"Despite physical distancing, consumers have never been closer to brands. They are feeling a sense of responsibility to shop local, to support small businesses, and to purchase directly from the people who make the products they love—and this isn’t going away. This will continue long after the pandemic has passed," Richardson said.
For businesses of all kinds, the message is clear - it’s important not to give up, to have a firm strategy in place, and to remain adaptable and flexible. And there are plenty of experts willing to help out with some good advice.
If you want to learn more, start with this free tool on business.govt.nz that tailors guidance to the needs of your business.
This article was created for business.govt.nz