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Retailers Cautioned: Poor Customer Experiences Bigger Threat Than Tech

New Zealand e-commerce retailers bewildered and anxious about the speed of technological change should not be frightened of what the future may hold for them because it is the correct application of technology that is critical to the customer experience--not tech itself.

Mark Presnell, Managing Director at Convergence Limited,an eCommerce integration firm in Auckland, says most New Zealand retailers he speaks to are fearful, and the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and fulfilment models like Amazon and Temu has done nothing to allay their fears.

"Technology plays a role, and even legacy systems like Netsuite, Attache or SAP (Systems, Applications & Products in Data Processing) are perfectly fine so long as they are part of an integrated eCommerce architecture that enhances speed, security, and usability along with customer satisfaction and personalisation."

Presnell said it is understandable that most people just can't keep up with the pace of change, in the same way the giant retailers are resourced to do. However, they should take comfort in the fact that retail has always been about providing value through a seamless customer service experience.

"Amazon and other outsourced fulfilment centre giants will dominate markets, even here in New Zealand, through sheer efficiency, speed and price. But not everybody wants to buy from big faceless conglomerates--and nobody wants to buy from them all the time, so there is a future, and there is opportunity for Kiwi eCommerce retailers if they put the customer experience first.

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"While Amazon's model offers efficiency, it also challenges retailers to maintain their unique brand identity amid widespread automation."

Presnell says local eCommerce retailers can adopt several strategies to improve their technology usage:

1. Optimise Legacy Systems

Many retailers operate on systems, which have been in place for long periods and that are customised and deeply embedded into their operations. Integrating these systems with modern eCommerce platforms like Shopify, BigCommerce or the like can extend their usefulness without the high costs of upgrades or even complete system replacements.

2. Monitor Technological Developments

Keep abreast of advancements in retail technology, especially those involving AI and automation. This doesn't mean adopting every new tool but understanding which innovations can meaningfully contribute to your business operations.

3. Focus on Comprehensive Technology Training

Ensure staff are proficient with current systems. Outdated technology frustrates employees and hampers productivity, but regular training and updates can mitigate these issues, allowing staff to utilise existing technologies efficiently and effectively.

"You may think that training staff is self-explanatory, but it is frightening how many retailers I talk to have never given it a second thought because they assume it all just happens by osmosis," Presnell says.

Technology can significantly enhance efficiency, but reliance on overly complex or inappropriate technology that is not properly integrated into a seamless process is a set-up for failure.

"Surviving into the future is about realising that technology is only useful if it improves business functions, and legacy technology can do that too. More important is to ensure efficiency while safeguarding the unique character and competitive edge of your business," Presnell says.


Based in Auckland but working with New Zealand companies nationwide, Convergence Limited makes business in eCommerce simple. Experts in eCommerce integration, Convergence is responsible for creating the links between an eCommerce website and key business software systems, in the cloud or on premises. Convergence has created its own cloud-based integration platform called CODI [Convergence Optimised Data Integration], which essentially acts as the hub between client systems and connects them all.

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