The arrival of online retail giant Amazon in Australasia is a reminder companies with new innovations have the capacity to disrupt conventional meeting places between buyers and sellers.

Chatter before Amazon's arrival in November last year in Australia was the company might undermine New Zealand retailers given purchases by Kiwis overseas do not attract duty tax and are only subject to GST if the value is more than $400.

Although consumers in New Zealand can already shop on the online platform, the opening of warehouses in Australia could mean faster delivery times and lower delivery costs for Kiwi shoppers.

NZ Chambers of Commerce Northland chief executive Tony Collins says retailers will always be vulnerable to external competition particularly in these days of everchanging advances in technology and connectivity.

NZ Chambers of Commerce Northland chief executive Tony Collins. Photo / File
NZ Chambers of Commerce Northland chief executive Tony Collins. Photo / File

"These developments have been well notified in advance so shouldn't come as a surprise," he said.

"There are still many compelling reasons for shopping locally and it is these points of difference that retailers need to concentrate on when articulating their value proposition.

"These are things such as quality of service, high level of empathy with customers, security around post sales follow up, convenience and in some cases the uniqueness of products on offer from local business.

"There is also the opportunity for local business to make better use of technology to expand their own markets and product offer," Mr Collins said.

Jane Frazerhurst – one of the organisers of The Collective Marketplace, a Whangarei-based venue for small businesses to collectively sell their wares – said Northland business owners were shunning concerns about Amazon's arrival.

They don't seem to be too concerned, she said.

"I think the general feeling is that the launch of Amazon is more likely to affect huge online retailers," she said. "Your average mum who sells their crafts on social media is unlikely to be too badly affected."

The Whangarei mum of two said the markets provide an opportunity for those who usually sell online to meet their customers face to face.


"We've seen an increase of people wanting to know who they are buying off, wanting to know where their money is going."

Pippa Bourke, founder of online magazine Creative Junction, said she, too, has seen more people wanting to buy locally.

"We've got our pop-up gift store in the Quest walk-through off Bank Street," she said. "People are impressed when we tell them that every single seller is local."

Amazon's smart speaker, The Echo, was launched in New Zealand in February with the company also launching its on-demand music streaming service, Amazon Music Unlimited.

Amazon has revealed it is tailoring the speakers to its Kiwi market with specific skills added to its regular functions, including learning New Zealand sports teams, giving news from local media organisations, and even speaking a bit of Maori.