Tech company's solution to help quake-hit Kaikoura retailers

Tech company's solution to help quake-hit Kaikoura retailers

A Dunedin tech company boss is hoping to bring a little Christmas cheer to quake-affected retailers in Kaikōura with a new online shopping portal.

Many stores in the coastal town are struggling to keep the tills ticking over after the large drop in tourists and other visitors following the 7.8 earthquake.

Ina Kinski, of tech development company Igtimi, has developed a unique "personal shopper" site to allow customers from around New Zealand support Kaikōura's retailers.

Rather than an click-to-buy mall, the Shop Kaikoura website lets people browse through a list of the town's shops to find a category or brand they're interested in.

Customers can then book a time with a local personal shopper, who can arrange photos or even videos of the products on offer.

Ms Kinski says the experience is free and no-obligation to browsers, and she's called on the help of a couple of other Dunedin tech firms.

Booking software company Timely has donated its systems to be used for scheduling appointments with the personal shoppers in Kaikōura.

Chief executive Ryan Baker believes it's a great way for Kiwis to help out while checking off their Christmas list.

"What we want is hundreds of people going to the website and buying lots of stuff from retailers in Kaikōura, so that they can keep trading through the Christmas period", he says.

The team hope the project will help retailers in the town remain open for business, with many worried about being left with large piles of surplus summer stock.

Purchases can be gift-wrapped for Christmas, and sent anywhere in New Zealand. Due to the continuing issues with the badly damaged SH1 route, NZ Post is collecting packages from Kaikōura and transporting them via the inland route.

It was announced on Tuesday that Kaikōura's state of emergency had been extended for another week.

"We have extended the state of local emergency to provide extra support and assistance to the community," said Civil Defence controller Murray Sinclair.

Ms Kinski had planned to spend the summer in Kaikōura while her husband completed his pilot instructor licence. 

He was in Kaikōura during the quake and flew himself out the next day. 

But the couple was keen to return to the battered town and decided to do all their Christmas shopping there to support the hard-hit retailers.

After talking to friends, Ms Kinski realised it was an idea the whole country could get behind.

The virtual shopping project has been developed in association with Kaikōura photographer Andrew Spencer, along with Dunedin tech businesses Timely and MixBit (collaborative video chat).