Money key for micro e-biz

A question of spending priorities rather than a lack of appropriate tools might be behind small New Zealand companies not getting involved more enthusiastically in e-commerce.

A question of spending priorities rather than a lack of appropriate tools might be behind small New Zealand companies not getting involved more enthusiastically in e-commerce.

Commentator Rod Oram told last month’s Ecat conference that e-commerce tools did not suit the needs of “micro-to-small” businesses. His comments have attracted criticism, and Oram has now backed down somewhat himself.

He says a survey by Deloittes indicated that the lack of small-scale offerings was a problem, but other surveys contradict that. The rest of his evidence was “anecdotal”, he now says, and perhaps not as reliable as he thought it was.

Karl Rohde of Auckland’s Synergy Software says the reason very small companies with five or fewer employees don’t take to e-commerce is simply that they don’t want to spend money.

Rohde says they are not using this as an excuse for hesitancy in getting into the technicalities of e-commerce. On the contrary, they get really excited, he says.

“New Zealand’s small company managers have some great ideas. They’re not afraid of change — but they want a Mercedes-Benz for the price of a wreck on the side of the road.”

Synergy Software charges a $60 up-front fee and $25 a month for its entry-level estore product, but the company says it was forced to give it away to its first customer, Indyport, trading as www.beerdirect.co.nz, to establish a reference site.

Xtra sells a basic online shopfront capability in association with Yellow Pages, aimed at that very low end of the market. “These are people intricately connected with every facet of their business,” says spokesman Matt Bostwick.

They can clearly see the trade-offs, he says. If they don’t spend on an online presence they can put some money into a more urgent requirement of the business. In larger businesses, the marketing department, which might make the decision to spend on a website, is more remote from the business’s other demands.

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