Online Sales Boosting Business in the Regions

Bricks and Mortar vs Online

Insights shared by Spark around where Kiwis head to over Easter is proving to be a valuable resource for small businesses preparing for an influx of visitors to their town.

Sally Gordon, small business communications manager for Spark, says holiday breaks like Easter provide an opportunity for businesses to make a connection with their customers – which doesn’t have to end when they leave town.

“There are many examples of small and medium businesses right across the country thriving with the help of successful web and social media strategy making them accessible from anywhere, at anytime”, Gordon says.

“If you think about it, this really encapsulates the Kiwi innovation mentality. We are a nation of entrepreneurs, so geographical location shouldn’t be a barrier to success.”

Qrious insights, which are based on anonymised, aggregated customer data, show that over Easter weekend in 2015 one holiday hotspot, the Bay of Plenty, had an additional 33,560 visitors from our three main centres – Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

During this period Tauranga experienced a 62% spike in daily mobile data usage.

For the owners of Mt Maunganui based design store Paper Plane, Timothy John and Krista Plews, visitors from outside the region provide an opportunity to make a lasting impression.

“Mt Maunganui is a popular hotspot so the new number of new faces to Paper Plane increases significantly over Easter. This is a time where our physical store really flourishes”, Plews says.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to promote our online store during the long weekend which customers can then access from any location at anytime, helping us to maintain and build our relationships with these customers.”

When Krista and husband Timothy John set up shop 3 years ago, they teamed up with Spark to develop a business plan.

“We were especially happy that we were able to work through this with Katie Johnston and the team at our local Spark Business Hub and three years on we still have a strong personal relationship.”

When they opened the shop doors they also opened their online store.

“It was important for us right from the beginning to be accessible from any location at any time, to make the most of the initial interest in Paper Plane.”

As Kiwi’s prepare to head away for the 2016 Easter break, how can small business in regions around the country use that insight to help grow business.

“Having a social media presence and understanding how to market yourself is really important”, Gordon says.

“If you look at the insight that we are seeing around the movement of people, the convenience of searching for services, ordering and buying things online and the popularity of social media, there is a real opportunity for small business to get noticed.”

Krista Plews from Paper Plane agrees, “social media is the most powerful web-based tool that we have. It’s an extremely successful platform to network directly with customers, creative talent and press. We’ve created and continue to build a strong sense of community, which results in customer loyalty, an ever-broadening customer reach and endless marketing opportunities.”

Where do Kiwis go for a long weekend

Qrious insight from 2015 shows across the country the most popular holiday hotspots, defined by Regional Tourism Organisations (RTOs), were Waikato, Northland, Coromandel and South Canterbury.

  • Domestic tourism insights were provided by Qrious. Qrious uses anonymous mobile location data from Spark to provide insights into the aggregated movements of people within New Zealand. Visitor numbers are produced by extrapolating activity seen on the Spar network out to an estimate of total visitor numbers.
  • Qrious is a data analytics business owned by Spark, they help businesses make better decisions through insight.
  • Percentage increase for visitors to the Bay of Plenty region over Easter 2015 is compared to usual weekend count (April 17 – 20 2015).
  • Regions are defined by RTO: Regional Tourism Organisation, representing the tourism interests of 30 different specified RTO regions across the country.