Morgan Tait

Morgan Tait is the NZ Herald's consumer affairs reporter.

Online shopping surges

Consumers are also purchasing more often: a quarter made 11 or more transactions.

From left, Simon Head, Sam Wanklyn and David Sainsbury buy mostly online. Photo / Natalie Slade
From left, Simon Head, Sam Wanklyn and David Sainsbury buy mostly online. Photo / Natalie Slade

More Kiwis are shopping online than ever before, with more than half of New Zealand adults contributing to $3.7 billion of internet sales last year.

Nielsen's latest Online Retail Report shows 1.78 million New Zealanders aged over 18 spent up large online in 2012 - figures expected to rise to two million Kiwis spending $4 billion by the end of the year.

Figures also showed consumers were buying more often: a quarter made 11 or more online transactions.

Nielsen's associate director of research, Tony Boyte, said New Zealanders were becoming more comfortable shopping online.

"A tipping point has been reached and many more will now follow," he said.

International websites netted over a quarter (26 per cent) of Kiwis' online shopping spending thanks to competitive pricing, said Mr Boyte.

"Purchasing offshore continues to rise and highlights the concerns of New Zealand retailers about how they can effectively compete with sales to international websites."

The most popular products and services were airline tickets with 47 per cent of online shoppers booking travel on the web, followed by clothing/shoes/accessories (38 per cent), books/magazines (32 per cent), entertainment tickets (29 per cent) and travel services such as accommodation and car hire (28 per cent).

Flight Centre's product general manager, Dave Coombes, said internet sales had been consistently high for the past seven years, but there were benefits from booking with an agent in store. "It's a reality of the market and has been for quite some time," he said. "It's no cheaper to buy products online, but what you do get if you book with an agency is you get support if something goes wrong.

"We recognise that that is a way people want to book so we are in the process of developing what we call a blended model which will enable people to come into our website or into our stores and be interchangeable. So they will be able to book on our website and then have a consultant look after them."

The report identified a combination of reasons consumers were shopping online.

Three-quarters of those polled said getting a better price than in shops was their top reason. Others included product and brand comparison (71 per cent) and shopping outside business hours (63 per cent).

Switched on flatmates buy online

Online shopping is easier, cheaper and has more to offer consumers than searching all around town, says Auckland man Dave Sainsbury.

Last week he bought a Kindle e-reader from Amazon.com and will next week travel to Samoa with airline tickets and an accommodation package all purchased on the web.

"It's a mixture of price, convenience and better selection," he said.

"And you don't have to go searching all around town."

The 25-year-old financial analyst lives in an Orakei flat with a group of men who said between 70 and 80 per cent of their purchases were made online.

"We do a few substantial orders," said television commercial producer Simon Head, 25.

"We bought 100 pairs of Calvin Kleins [underwear] off eBay last week, so now we have 20 each."

They would fork out on average $150 to $200 a month on a variety of goods and have recently purchased golf clubs, books, PlayStation games, clothing and movie tickets.

"If you're going to spend $500 in New Zealand you try and spend $250 online, if it's not worth your while and only [saving] about $30 you just go and buy it at the shop," said business analyst Sam Wanklyn, 25.

"Even New Zealand retailers have better selection on their websites as well. They don't have to hold the inventory so they can just show you pictures and order as you buy so it's easier for them."

Mr Head estimated about 80 per cent of their peers also shop mostly online.

2012

*1.7m Kiwis over 18 shopped online
*$3.7b was spent online
*76 per cent said prices were lower online
*26 per cent purchased 11 or more items last year
*47 per cent of purchases were for airline tickets

- NZ Herald

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