Hooking into the new economy

One of the country's oldest industries has dipped its toe into the new economy with the launch of the first fish portal.

One of the country's oldest industries has dipped its toe into the new economy with the launch of the first fish portal.

"The biggest problem we've had comes from the banks - they're not too keen on the whole real-time payment system," says Toby Warren, chief fishmonger at South Fresh in Auckland. "They want to send out bills a few hours or even days later. We want the transaction conducted and concluded on the spot," he says. South Fresh is a supplier of perishable goods, including fish, to the supermarket industry. South Fresh's site, www.southfresh.co.nz, has been in operation for a year and its customers are loving it, says Warren.

"They don't need anything but a browser at their end and they can buy, sell, compare prices, track shipments, the lot."

The South Fresh system, built by QED Software and hosted by Greenwood Technologies, is tied in with the Courier Post system for shipment monitoring. "They seem to be the most advanced in this area, so we're working with them to allow customers to follow their parcels around the country."

The system is also able to connect in to almost any accounting package on the market today - Warren says most accounting software is designed so you can input and extract data with the minimum of fuss and South Fresh has taken full advantage of that.

"Ultimately we'd like to have the customers doing 'automated vendor refill' where common items are ordered by the system when the last item is purchased off the shelf - that sort of thing."

Warren makes his money by clipping the ticket of any transaction that passes through the system. "We tell people there are no up-front costs for joining the scheme and if they never buy anything through the system they don't pay a penny." Warren has estimated the savings made by such companies at around 10% - he charges 2.5% commission on any transaction and says users of the system seem more than happy with the price.

"Really it should be made illegal - it's all too easy. Customers look at it and say it's the future arrived early, and I just laugh."

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