Easy does it for online buyers

By Susan Edmunds

Presenter Candy Lane.  Photo / Michael Craig
Presenter Candy Lane. Photo / Michael Craig

Website shopping channel aims to change Kiwi trading culture

Getting the online side of the business right will be vital for the Shopping Channel, which launches at the start of next month.

Its eCommerce website and shopping app will offer a one-step checkout system similar to that used by Amazon and Apple.

Greg Randall, head of digital and logistics, says it is unique in New Zealand, especially as it integrates delivery services as well as ordering.

When customers first buy via www.shoppingchannel.co.nz, they will be asked whether they want their details stored, including their credit card number. Then every purchase can be made by logging in - no payment details are required.

Randall says a website such as this normally takes eight to 10 months to build but the Shopping Channel needed it done in 14 weeks. The infrastructure needed to be in place to allow it to grow with the number of products the channel offers.

"If you want to sell quickly, the back end becomes instrumental. It doesn't matter how good the presenters are. Our ability to deliver efficiently will be how we're judged."

He says standard practice will mean four or five teams working on the site but, at times, there are up to 15. At any given time there are up to 40 people working on it.

There has been heavy investment in site analytics so customer buying habits can be tracked.

That means the site will point customers in the direction of new products they may be interested in, based on past purchases.

The operation will be run with military precision, Randall says. Stock will arrive, be photographed for the web then sent to the presenters - who include Candy Lane and Monty Betham - in the studio. Goods discussed on television will be on the website at the same time.

Randall says the Shopping Channel has an added challenge compared to some of its overseas counterparts as it sells from retailers and distributors, rather than owns the products it sells.

Shopping Channel CEO Alistair Duff says designing the site and app had been expensive, although he did not give cost details. The channel has worked with Exceed Online on the customer-facing website functionality and Commerce Connect on the digital infrastructure.

Randall says the website will set a benchmark for Kiwi retailers to follow.

"It is clear to us that retailers are struggling with the e-commerce proposition. It has been interesting listening to these guys talking about what we're doing."

He says British retailer Asos is earning $37 million from NZ shoppers, offering free shipping. "Our competitors are Asos and Amazon. Best practice is what's happening globally."

- Herald on Sunday

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