Question :
Anyone else struggling with the rules around e-commerce and keeping online sales going? And if we really can’t ship to NZ consumers, why can’t we at least ship to Australian ones? Are orders from offshore online retailers still getting through to consumers, and is that okay when local online retailers are unable to operate, even if they can fulfil the rules around keeping people in their bubble, and in their local area?

Question submitted 28/03/20 @ 04:38pm
Industry: Retailing
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    Hi Debra – happy to connect with you offline on this and give you my thoughts? For the most part orders from offshore retailers aren’t actually getting through very easily, as it turns out. But your questions are valid, easier to chat through it over the phone.


    Hi Debra, I cannot answer all those questions but can contribute to some of them based on experiences with our clients. Within NZ, for now, it is essential couriers only and we have seen our clients pull back on any sales or marketing with a CTA. Some are still advertising and using this as a chance to build new audiences and generate engaged website traffic. But no sales or deliveries. Some of those who sell and ship overseas are still operating business as usual in other regions but watching closely to see if they go the same way as NZ.

    Your question on if overseas orders are making it to NZ consumers is a very good one and I hope someone can answer it. I agree that it would appear an unfair disadvantage to NZ retailers.

    Sorry I could not help more… just wanted to jump in with my small snippet of info and hopefully others will pick it up from here.


    Hi Debra and Nagaja – would love any update here if you get clarity on this – I am also asking the MBIE team about this – maybe I could ask Don Braid and his team at Mainfreight as well. Or someone from NZ Post.


    Hey Debra, I got some more information here from a contact in the industry of freight, logistics: “My initial reaction is that is not likely to be delivered. Whether it is shipped from country of origin is debatable. Air freight tonnage currently scarce inbound and set for essentials. Export freight being encouraged by the Govt for important earnings. Again airfreight space scarce and expensive. Charters are developing to get export away. I think if e-commerce exporters particularly food based will get opportunity. Particularly into Asia where markets are back up and running.”


    Hey Debra – I got an update this morning from one of the major freight companies, “non-essential will not likely be delivered inbound. Getting Non-essential away will also be an issue…under the rules a non-essential business cannot be open for pick up. Essential food supplies can still be sent however delivery in the country of destination will need to be co-ordinated and available”


    Hi Debra,

    A really good question which is being discussed ALOT in the world of retail. I am a stickler for the rules in times like this. We all need to do our bit and for those trying to get around the guidelines, you tend to get a lot of push back from customers and the public which can destroy your brand.

    NZ Post and Courier services are continuing to ensure the service levels of essential businesses. Both domestically and internationally. All incoming freight has the same rules applied but the reality is, some stuff is getting delivered from Australian retailers.

    Essential businesses and those that support them – for instance in their supply chains – will continue to provide necessities to all New Zealanders. The New Zealand government continues to update its list of what is deemed to be an essential business. If you are unsure if you are an essential business supplier visit http://www.covid19.govt.nz/government-actions/covid-19-alert-level/#Essential-businesses

    There are retailers still sending their products but you can see the crap they are copping. Big chains like Mecca and Ezibuy are despatching through their Australian distribution network. Is this fair? No.Why are they above the rules? Sometimes shit happens and there are so many bigger issues for the government to deal with they just haven’t go to this yet.

    Are those Aussie retailers getting grief? Yes.
    Want to see the type of grief these businesses are getting? Go to Facebook and look at the feedback Cotton-on is getting. I don’t think it is worth it for the damage it is doing to its brand.

    A big brand can survive the loss of loyalists. I am not sure a credible NZ brand should put themselves in that position.

    Retailers large and small are wondering if they should be continuing to sell and deliver later. Do so with care. Here is a good article outlining why to be considered.

    Buy now, receive later: Is it okay to take shoppers’ payments and dispatch goods after lockdown? UPDATED

    Finally, retailers/sellers must be incredibly confident if they are going to continue to sell (if they are a non-essential service) while in lockdown. Unfortunately, there are many businesses on a knives edge and whilst this might look appealing to generate cash flow, there are fish hooks they need to be aware of.

    – Do you have the stock on hand?
    – Can you manage to monitor stock while you are selling it (so you don’t sell stuff they don’t have)?
    – If you don’t have the stock, when and where is it coming from?
    – Will it still come in a timely manner post-Covid?
    – Will the price possible need to change post-Covid if it is something you produce because material costs change? Will the customer pay the difference so you don’t lose out or will you wear that?
    – What happens it the customer changes their mind and wants a refund?
    – Will you be able to accommodate this (remember lots of customers circumstances will change in the coming weeks as businesses close).

    If you do continue to sell with the product/service to come later, I only hope that customers, continue to be kind if the pre-purchased items are no longer available or take a lot longer than was anticipated.

    Imagine the stress if post-Covid those customers have unreasonable demands asking for refunds and cancellations. You really need to consider if you cost structure is going to change as a result of Covid. Eg.if the product you are selling post-Covid might cost you more than you sold it for in-Covid?
    Not only will this tip your cash flow but also tip your state of mind.

    There is no rule book for Covid but there is a rulebook for prudently managing retail businesses in tough times.

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