The terrible state of eCommerce in NZ

Here in New Zealand we like to think of ourselves as a small, nimble, technical country, however, when it comes to eCommerce we’re rubbish! Take a look at this newspaper comment about Air New Zealand simply refusing to support Mac users who want to book online. You heard me, if you use a Macintosh you can not do online bookings with Air New Zealand. This is supposedly an internationally recognised top-quality airline who are pretty much giving the finger to some of their customer base. What makes it worse is if you book over the phone with them you are charged an extra unwaivable $15!

Further examples abound in the terrible website design that supposedly modern companies employ. Sites that are all in flash, unfindable in Google (note, finding a shop is pointless if you’re trying to find out what they sell locally, online), are just two examples. Far too many New Zealand businesses are throwing away money with terrible design that doesn’t ‘talk’ to Google.

What’s worse is that the Yellow Pages are telling their customers they will get their company to the “top of Google”, yet according to insiders they have no idea what is involved, often asking their internal tech support to “get them to number 1 please!”. Ludicrous as this may be, you will find that many New Zealand businesses have Yellow Pages pages that rate higher than their own home page .

Far too many companies in New Zealand are either completely unaware of how much business is being done online, and how much the Internet influences purchasing decisions, or are paying big bucks for bad, flashy websites designed by ad-agencies, not real eCommerce experts.

Yet when a company gets it right the end result can be very profitable. One small New Zealand business I know of spends around $50us a month on Google sponsored links and also spent a little time making sure headings, titles and keywords were scattered liberally through their pages. The end result has been a significant increase in online orders, despite a clunky, ugly, and difficult to use site (well, they’re not perfect!).

In time I hope we’ll see New Zealand businesses really embracing what the Internet can provide. Sadly, I don’t expect it will happen any time soon.

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