Special effects company Weta Workshop is using Alibaba's digital payment system Alipay to attract Chinese tourists to its Wellington workshop.

The app-based wallet, popular in China, is slowly being introduced to tourist attractions and frequently visited locations throughout New Zealand.

READ MORE:Group weddings and loyalty rings: Inside Alibaba's strange world

Christchurch Airport has led the way in introducing the payment technology in this country, having launched a South Island-wide project last April to offer it to local merchants.


As of January, there were 2000 merchants offering Alipay purchases in New Zealand.

Weta Workshop strategic projects and retail manager Ian Phillips says offering Alipay allows the company to cater to New Zealand's growing visitor market.

It has been using the payment option for three months and it has already proven popular with Chinese tourists, says Phillips.

"We saw it utilised within the first 15 minutes of it going live."

The technology uses a machine which scans a QR code unique to each individual and initiates a transaction which is automated to the merchant.

More than 400,000 Chinese nationals visit New Zealand annually, spending about $1.7 billion a year. That is forecast to grow to $4b by 2020.

"It's great to be able to offer a convenient way of paying for our businesses," says Phillips. "And if we can make our experiences a little easier and a little bit better and more efficient, then that's certainly a plus."

Environmentally-friendly cleaning products company Ecostore began selling on Alibaba's online shopping platform Tmall in October 2015, just ahead of its annual 11.11 shopping bonanza.


Ecostore managing director Pablo Kraus says being on the platform has increased overall business and enabled it to grow its Chinese customer base.

Ian Phillips, Weta Workshop strategic projects and retail manager. Photo / Supplied
Ian Phillips, Weta Workshop strategic projects and retail manager. Photo / Supplied

Ecostore had been looking to expand into China for a year before Alibaba invited it onto its platform. "Given our products are not tested on animals, it seemed like the most appropriate way to sell cross-border into the market," Kraus says.

In China, products which are not tested on animals cannot be sold in bricks-and-mortar retail stores. As a result, Tmall and Tmall Global are seen as attractive options for New Zealand companies which want to sell products that have not been animal-tested, to consumers in China.

Kraus says Ecostore has had "huge" sales growth since being on Tmall, and sales from that channel now account for 10 per cent of its total business.

The company recently won Tmall Global's customer experience award for excellence - the only New Zealand company among the six winners.

The downside to being on Tmall is having to put aside enough stock before the 11.11 event in November, he says.

Ecostore managing director Pablo Kraus. Photo / Supplied
Ecostore managing director Pablo Kraus. Photo / Supplied

"There's a huge amount of stress and pressure on us being able to deliver a huge amount of stock within that one day," Kraus says.

"It causes cashflow issues sometimes ... but the loyalty, and the amount of new people to the brand, we get off of that is a far greater payoff long term."

Former international cricketer Dion Nash, founder of skincare brand Triumph & Disaster, is preparing to launch a flagship store on Tmall in June.

The company has been selling in China for almost two years, and Nash says it is now ready to expand to reach a wider audience.

"With the growth that we've seen over the last two years, we just feel the time is right now to really push wider and to get on the main platform," Nash says. "One of the challenges of the China market is the registration of the labels; it's complicated and also means that you can be exposed to animal testing even though we don't do it ourselves."

"[The platform] allows us to get around hefty Chinese labelling and registering processes that potentially doesn't fit with our brand."