Kiwi Conversations #2: New Zealanders experience with connection and online purchasing

10 September 2020


In this edition of our Kiwi Conversations, we talk to New Zealanders about their experiences in connecting with and buying from companies and organisations online.

So, what did Kiwis have to say about connection? How satisfied are we with our experiences, what worked well, what has not and how can brands improve engagement in the online arena?

Here is what we found

1. COVID has changed the way Kiwis are interacting and transacting – but there is a general satisfaction with how companies are performing even when we’ve experienced issues or problems. We’re adapting, getting on with the new normal and this behaviour will stick.

2. Buying and engaging online can cause stress and anxiety when things go wrong, while satisfactory experiences are about getting the basics right. Brands that win here are great at communication throughout the process: always keeping people in the loop.

3. Kiwis are now starting to ask for value adding brand experiences and are looking for experience led innovation in online engagement. Enjoyment, human, visceral, local, direct relationships are emerging needs, over and above the standard UX excellence required to simply transact.

4. We have become so reliant on the internet for everyday life that it is now viewed as an essential utility – and all Kiwis should have access to it.

5. Lastly, there is a preference to prioritise the health of Kiwis over the economy, despite New Zealanders reliance on it in building prosperity.


The influence of COVID in the online arena

COVID has jump-shifted the way many Kiwis are transacting, interacting and shopping, unsurprisingly driving increased usage and acceptance of the online shopping channel across a broader array of categories. We are engaging online more across almost every shopping category.  

The online arena

Despite media tendency to amplify failure, and negative social media stories about company or brand failings, we seem to be mostly satisfied with how companies have been performing in the online space – even though half of us have experienced an issue, most are still willing to forgive mistakes, at least once or twice.

Online engagement is the new normal, not the exception. As a sales and engagement channel that was an alternative to bricks and mortar, exceptional is now an expectation. We are picking that the quality of our delivery in online will soon become a competitive battleground for differentiation, improved customer experience and service delivery.

Now is the time to shift thinking from adaptation and satisfaction to differentiation, excellence and delight. Do we have a true understanding of our customers’ pain points and priorities for functional online engagement or are we operating on assumption? Are we focused on clipping on a new sales and engagement channel or are we building our online engagement channel from excellence in brand and customer experience outward? What do our customers want next? Kiwis gave us an insight into what ‘good’ could look like moving forward, both in terms of pure user experience and also from a wider brand engagement perspective.

Getting the basics right

Many Kiwis have had satisfactory online purchase experiences with 59% of us having not encountered any challenges or issues buying and collecting. There are some excellent reliable engagements with big brands while smaller, focused, niche brands consistently appear as stars.

Good vs Bad engagement feedback

Getting the basics right is about removing anxiety by keeping in touch with customers. Stock availability, ensuring delivery on time and most importantly – keeping customers in the loop on order progress or problems are basic hygiene factors. And while Kiwi online shoppers are willing to forgive some mistakes, difficulties speaking to a person, in resolving an issue or being kept in the dark when things go wrong are key pitfalls for brands to avoid. Shoppers want to reduce the anxiety around getting their purchase to the extent that 40% report being willing to pay a small additional fee just to ensure delivery on time.

From good to great

The experience battleground may be upon us and expectations are being raised. Kiwis are asking for even better value adding brand experiences. It’s clear we are eager to get out and trade face-to-face but a significant number say they’re likely to use online more moving forward. Simply being in the online space and delivering a good transaction experience will become key hygiene factors for doing business.

Experience led innovation in online engagement

While looking for further improvements to make transacting and engagement online is important, its improved experiential elements that Kiwis are more interested in. We are looking for frictionless pickup and fulfillment. We are open to new and enjoyable browsing and shopping experiences. We are keen to have direct relationships with some of our favourite (and local) vendors, companies and brands. And clearly, we’re looking for further innovation around essential service provision online – medical, banking (and any other important service) to bring the experience more in line with expectation. The time is ripe to engage with customers to understand the user experiences they want and find ways of bringing simple, meaningful experiential delivery to the online engagement arena.

Key factors for future success

It’s clear that to win in the online channel, there’s a need to continually improve and optimise the hygiene factors. This is about clear information, process, expectations and communication.

Future wins however may be derived from bringing more emotion and humanity to the online trading and engagement channel. Putting the brand experience and human lens at the centre to find differentiation and bring experiential elements into the online process. How will your organisation bring its brand personality, values and benefits further to life in the online channel?

An everyday essential

The everyday essential – the internet

We have become so reliant on the internet that is is seen by New Zealanders to be essential to everyday life; a basic utility that all need access to. This again highlights the importance of online business – are we showing ourselves in the best way online? Are we making contacting us online easy for consumers?

A shift in priorities

Lastly, despite New Zealanders reliance on the economy in building prosperity, there is a preference to prioritise the health of Kiwis over the economy. In our prosperity issue, 60% of Kiwis saw ‘The Economy’ as most important in guaranteeing prosperity moving forward. However, and despite the predominant tone of media inquiry, New Zealanders are now more likely to feel that protecting the health of everyone should still be the priority going forward. 

We’d love to hear your questions

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Tags: Innovation, Kiwi Conversations, New Zealand, Connection, Online Engagment, Brand Engagement, User Experience