Any business unsure of the value of an online presence will have been made very aware of the benefits through 2020. Back for its second year, The 2degrees Shaping Business Study has revealed the important role that technology and digitisation has played in keeping Kiwi businesses moving since the first nation wide Lockdown.
The study found that 64 percent of employing business decision makers in retail have shifted online in the last 12 months, and almost half (49%) say they have enhanced their digital offering to meet customer needs.
When New Zealand went into a six-week Lockdown, many business owners realised they needed to launch an online platform. For Sandy Cubitt, e-commerce opened up a whole new world for her business S.C Interiors.
“We’ve been able to reach a new market of customers in the North Island and are now sending a lot of products up to Auckland,” she says.
“We’ve bumped up our digital marketing spend too, as we see our online store as a key area to invest in. We’ve been really busy over the last 12 months; we’ve definitely seen the demand for homewares and furniture increase.”
Although 2degrees’ study shows great progress with retailers moving online, statistics reveal that only five percent of retailers describe their online presence as good, and not needing any change.
Andrew Fairgray, Chief Business Officer at 2degrees, says some retailers may be reluctant to moving online due to lack of time and juggling many other things like payroll, accounts, marketing and a business plan.
“Some of them might feel a bit out of their depths in terms of expertise if they aren’t tech or marketing savvy. Some might be looking at the upfront cost and questioning if that’s the best place to spend their money,” says Fairgray.
“What we do know is that the willingness to adapt is there in the retail sector, which is really encouraging.”
To help retailers run their business online, 2degrees has invested more than $1b into its network. Since then, the company has found that business owners are looking at who is best placed to help them move forward with quality and value and that’s where 2degrees excels.
“We know a lot of business owners are considering Trans-Tasman travel to meet suppliers or clients. We’ve launched new roaming plans that means 2degrees Business customers can now roam in Australia at no extra cost to use minutes, data and text.”
Since moving online, Cubitt has found that customers tend to take her business more seriously.
“It’s nice to be able to talk about the online store with customers who are visiting from out of town, particularly those who might not have enough room in their suitcase to take everything home.”
Cubitt says building an online presence has enabled her to turn customers who pop in to store on a one-off visit into long-term shoppers who have continued to shop with her business online.
Looking ten years into the future, connectivity will remain a critical enabler for all businesses and especially retail, from brick and mortar, to serve service style registers, mobile phone transactions or ‘just walk out’ cashier-less stores.
Putting it simply, Fairgray says if businesses aren’t gonna keep up, consumers will move on.
“Now is the opportunity for the retail industry to embrace technology and focus on how digital can enhance their business in the long-term.”