Start selling online – your guide to ecommerce in New Zealand.

Online shopping in New Zealand continues to see an upward trend it has been showing a growth of 7% a year on average between 2016 and 2021 according to IBISWorld. In 2020 spending online was up more than $1.2 billion compared to 2019 to a total of $5.8 billion according to New Zealand Post’s e-commerce report.


The growth in online sales is likely to do with several factors including convenience, growing trust in online shopping and in recent times COVID19 lock downs. In general people are becoming more and more comfortable with looking for products online. They are also enjoying the convenience of having things delivered directly to their doors.

So if your looking to start selling online then now could be the right time for you. Be sure to check out our recent blog on how to choose top selling products for your online store. This article goes into detail about how to properly research your products and competitors before diving in.

Test your product on established websites (Market Places)

If you already think you have a solid idea and your ready to take the plunge I highly recommend you try your product out on an established platform first before starting out with your own dedicated website. There are a few different websites that provide a great place to test your product popularity without sinking a whole lot of start up capital into a new website.

Some examples include TradeMe (currently NZ’s main market place), Felt (a very popular online store for hand made goods), Facebook & Instagram (create an online shop and share with groups) or Made in NZ. Depending on your product bulk sales may also be of benefit to you so you could try GrabOne, Treat Me and 1-day.

Steps to prepare for selling online

When you are finally ready to take the next step to start selling from your own website your first consideration might be how you will design your new website. However, there are a few other matters you might want to sort out first.

1. Register your business

Before starting out be sure to make sure you register your company on the New Zealands companies register. You can do this yourself and it is a reasonably easy process. You should also register your company with the IRD for tax purposes. Ensure first that no other company holds a similar name to yours as this will cause you issues down the track. Check that the domain name (URL) that you want is available for purchase and secure it early eg. yourdomain.co.nz. You may also want to go down the track of registering your trademark although this is not essential.

2. Decide which CMS is right for your business

CMS stands for content management system – most modern websites use one. A CMS allows the website owners to easily add and change content and products. Some popular choices for ecommerce CMS platforms include woocommerce, shopify, wix, magento, bigcommerce  and squarespace. But there are some other options. When choosing the CMS that is right for you think carefully about how you want your business to grow in the future as changing platforms can be problematic. You will need to choose a CMS that includes all of the functionality you need in your website including the ability to integrate with other software you business may require. 

3. Choose a payment gateway to receive payments

In order to receive credit card payments online you will need to choose a payment gateway. Depending on the payment gateway you choose you may need to contact your bank to create a merchant account in order to accept credit card payments. There are some payment gateways that are both merchant account and  payment gateway combined meaning you do not need to set up a merchant account with your bank. These include Stripe and Paypal. Find out more about popular payment gateways for your online store.

4. Write your terms and conditions and policies

Every ecommerce website should have clear terms and conditions. In fact it is a legal requirement to have certain policies displayed on your website. It is also helpful to customers and often helps to create confidence in your online store if you are clear about what your practices are. Your policies should include:

Shipping: How you will ship, when you will ship, shipping prices and estimated delivery times.

Returns: When and how customers can make a return and how they can contact you. Be sure that you follow the New Zealand Consumer Guarantees Act.

General Terms: You should write a comprehensive list of terms and conditions. These should help to protect you against common ecommerce issues including stock items, loss of products in transit and copyright issues. For ideas on what to include see other websites or consult your lawyer.

Privacy Policy: You are required by law to take of personal information provided to you by your customers. You should have a policy that outlines what you collect and how you protect it. You can find out more about your obligations under the privacy act here: https://www.privacy.org.nz/responsibilities/your-obligations/

Decide on a freight provider and shipping costs

Taking into consideration what types of products you sell and the best way to ship them you should do your home work on which shipping company will be best for your shipping requirements. Considerations should include pricing, ease of system setup, integration for printing labels with your CMS, specialised packaging if you need it and their policies around breakages. You should also consider what your pricing structure will be for shipping your products.

I highly recommend where possible that shipping is offered for free or essentially built into your product pricing structure. If this is not possible then it is best to keep your shipping price structure as simple as possible so customers can easily understand it. Shipping costs are often the main reason people drop their carts at the checkout.