How To Start An eCommerce Business In NZ

Date Mar 9, 2021
By Staff Writer

Staying indoors is one of the biggest changes the majority of us had to adjust to because of the pandemic. With limited places to go to and so much free time to kill, it was inevitable for a dramatic shift from in-person to online shopping. People are now relying on the digital world more than ever--from buying necessities and paying utilities to socializing and communicating with friends and family.

With these new changes, the eCommerce industry is thriving, and more businesses are forced to adapt and develop strategies that will cater to their customers' needs. If you're planning to go digital and build an eCommerce business, it's important to know the ins and outs first before going live. Here are some tips and do's and don'ts to get you started!

First, what is eCommerce?

Ecommerce (also known as electronic commerce) is the concept of buying and selling goods and services online to consumers worldwide. Aside from the sale of physical goods online, it's also referred to as the transaction that takes place online.

Since the first online sale that occurred on August 11, 1994, eCommerce has revolutionized the way we purchase and sell products. Today, almost everyone--from independent freelancers to huge corporations — have benefited from eCommerce


What are the types of eCommerce models?

  • B2C (Business to Consumer)

This is when a business sells a product or service to a consumer.

Example: Buying a new shirt from an online retailer or booking a massage appointment from a spa business.

  • B2B (Business to Business)

This is when a business sells a product or service to another company.

Example: A business selling furniture or software for other companies to purchase and use. e.g. Office Depot and Shopify, respectively

  • C2C (Consumer to Consumer)

This is when a consumer sells a product or service to another consumer.

Example: Selling your old clothes on Instagram, Etsy, or TradeMe to another consumer

  • C2B (Consumer to Business)

This is when a consumer sells a product or service to a business.

Example: An influencer offering exposure to their followers in exchange for a fee or ex-deal.

Apart from these, there are also different types of eCommerce to choose from, including retail, wholesale, crowdfunding, physical and digital products, services, subscription, and more.

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How can I start an eCommerce business in NZ?

1. Choose your online platform

Once you finally figured out your budget and the products and services you're going to sell, the next important thing to decide is which platform to sell. There are plenty of options to choose from, such as building your own website and designing it to your liking, or setting up a shop in an existing marketplace such as Shopify. You can also choose to do both to increase visibility!

Some existing online marketplace to choose from in New Zealand:

  • TradeMe
  • All Goods
  • Buildersrack
  • Two Doors Down
  • Facebook Marketplace

International marketplace:

  • Shopify
  • Amazon
  • eBay
  • Etsy

Still can't decide? Here are some pros and cons to help you:

Building your own website

Pros Cons
You have complete control over your business Setting up a website can be expensive and time-consuming
Lots of opportunities to develop your brand and personalize your website You might need to hire a web developer to help you set up your website
More ways to market your products and build a relationship with your customers You need a good marketing strategy to introduce your business online and build awareness
Options to analyze your customers' behavior and adapt to it
Run promotions and sales to attract more buyers

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Make sure to check your business name's availability using ONEcheck and register it with an authorized registrar.

If you have decided to build a website, you must include the following:

  • Contact details for the business
  • Shipping information. There are plenty of options available in New Zealand such as DHL eCommerce tracking and FedEx New Zealand.
  • Any extra costs such as shipping costs
  • Secure online payment details
  • Return policies
  • Where and how to give feedback or send queries
  • Currency the customers use to pay you
  • Restrictions if there are any
  • Privacy policy

Selling in an existing marketplace

Pros Cons
Easy to set up and cheap Many sellers on the platform, which means many competitors
More chances of getting customers right away Less opportunity to personalize and build your brand
Add, remove, and update product information easily Limited way to communicate with customers and fewer marketing opportunities
Security issues and technical problems are taken care of by the platform's designated team There are instances where you have to pay to list an item

You can always choose to utilize both options to have more chances at increasing your reach. You can cross-link between the two, which is a known selling technique called omnichannel commerce.

2. Build brand awareness

Now that you've decided where to sell your products and services, it's time to build your brand, learn how to market your products, and define your ideal customers. It sounds like a lot, sure, but you can take it one day at a time. For starters, here are some tips to consider:

  • Create customer personas during your business planning, then refine your products and services based on them.
  • Build a relationship with your customers by creating social media accounts for your shop and engaging with them through meaningful posts and captions with call-to-action.
  • Upload high-quality photos to make a good and lasting impression on your customers and potential buyers.
  • Make sure your product titles are clear. Include the brand name, keywords, and specific details about what you're selling.
  • Product descriptions are everything! You can get creative and build an engaging brand voice that will stick to people, add SEO keywords to increase awareness, and add important details about the product, including unique selling points.
  • A quick turnaround time when answering questions and customer feedback is vital to get more sales and brand credibility.
  • Avoid overselling and be honest with your products and services. If you're going to make bold claims about what you're selling, make sure that they can actually live up to them.

Now that you have an idea of how an eCommerce website works, it's time to start selling! Of course, you will need a fast and reliable connection for seamless online transactions.

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