New Zealand still wrestles with digital scepticism

New Zealand still wrestles with digital scepticism

Many New Zealand companies are still failing to recognise the opportunity of online and digital business, according to Darryn Melrose, CEO of marketing agency Aim Proximity.

Melrose delivered five tips to survive and prosper in the digital age to the American Chamber of Commerce's "Digital Future Now" conference, held in Auckland last week.

Melrose's first tip is to recognise what is happening and the first stage of that is to get past digital scepticism.

"New Zealand business hasn't really gotten over that point," he says.

Melrose rolled out examples of successful New Zealand businesses doing good business online, including Air New Zealand, which now books over $1 billion in sales through its website.

He then went on, however, to present statistics showing 81% of local internet traffic goes offshore.

"New Zealand businesses are not providing for the needs of New Zealanders online," he says.

Consumers are now "30-second globetrotters," he says. The growing absence of geographic barriers to consumers is both a danger and an opportunity.

In his second tip, Melrose advises online businesses to get interactive fast and don't forget the emerging mobile channel.

He says businesses should "build outcomes, not empires," and to do this, speed and flexibility are key. In this context, ownership of digital should be with marketing, rather than with IT.

Melrose says online business is all about the customer, through personalisation and dialogue. Finally, success milestones are a must.

We must understand what success looks like, provide unique products and services and learn from online interaction, he says.

Also in his presentation, Melrose previewed a screenshot of a major revamp of The Warehouse's website, expected to go live in coming weeks. The Warehouse appears to be moving towards online e-commerce, with a database-driven, fully searchable inventory. However, inquiries to The Warehouse about the project revealed that the strategy is to allow customers to "search online and buy in-store."

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