Kiwi-owned e-commerce platforms under discussion

Committee suggests that New Zealand create local services better suited to the local market.

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The Digital Council for Aotearoa New Zealand, a committee set up to advise the government on technology developments, is calling for the local e-commerce equivalent of a Shopify or Amazon to be established.

Chair Mitchell Pham says the council has yet to explore the idea in full but it put forward the suggestion in its recent notes to the ministers it reports to: Kris Faafoi, Minister for Government Digital Services, and James Shaw, Minister of Statistics.

Pham says that many local small businesses are turning to global e-commerce platforms which have been created for much larger populations than New Zealand. “International providers create features and options that are most suited to larger markets around the world, we are one of the smaller markets”.

Initial ideas could involve a platform for industry marketplaces, as opposed to consumer products. An example Pham shared with Computerworld New Zealand is in the logistics sector. Instead of freight companies investing in separate fleets, they could buy hours or capacity on other each other’s trucks and vehicles via a digital platform.

The committee notes to the ministers also emphasise the need to involve the technology, innovation and entrepreneurial sectors in planning for the economic recovery that now needs to take place: “There is an opportunity for larger organisations within New Zealand to adopt digital tools and a re-framing by government of ‘shovel ready’ projects to ‘sensor ready’ projects for the purpose of creating a new digital infrastructure for New Zealand.”

The ‘shovel ready’ projects are a reference to the infrastructure projects and programmes that are currently being considered by the Infrastructure Industry Reference Group, as part of the government’s stimulatory package.

“When it comes to any post COVID-19 response, three needs to be a willingness to show strong leadership by capitalising on New Zealand’s entrepreneurial spirit and willingness to innovate,” the committee notes. “We think involving the technology, innovation and entrepreneurial sectors in planning and response could be a good way to explore how both to save jobs while creating new roles in new, adjacent industries.”

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