Close

Shop Kaikoura aims to keep quake-hit retailers' tills ringin'

Dunedin tech executive Ina Kinski has summoned much-needed cashflow for Kaikoura retailers by creating a slick online platform which makes it easy for Kiwis to access Kaikoura’s shops. She wants the site to raise awareness that Kaikoura is open for business.

Kinski, who is the general manager of technology company Igtimi, describes herself as a “very new Kaikoura resident”. She had planned to spend the summer renting a home in Kaikoura with her husband while he completed his pilot instructors’ license, but these plans were derailed when the magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit in mid-November.

At the time, Kinski was back in Dunedin: “My husband was by himself in the rental house and I was awake at the kitchen counter at home, trying to get hold of him and not knowing [if he was safe].”

The morning after the quake, Kinski’s husband was able to fly home in his private plane, but he left behind a troubled community. The pair debated whether to return, but having invested a lot into the idea of their summer in Kaikoura, they came back last week to survey the damage.

Kinski says the day she arrived, it was hot, and she went into town to try to purchase some sandals. She was surprised to find great deals on offer from several local retailers.

“About six hours later, I thought, ‘I’m just going to do all my Christmas shopping here.’”

Soon after that, Kinski thought to contact friends in Wellington about the shopping opportunities in Kaikoura. She set up a Skype call and helped them choose some items.

“Another six hours later, I thought, ‘Why doesn’t the whole country do this?”

Once she’d hit upon the idea of using personal shoppers to enable the rest of New Zealand to shop in Kaikoura, she was able to use her professional skills and contacts to execute a suitable online platform fast and well.

The Shop Kaikoura website Kinski built is integrated with Timely software allowing users to schedule a session with one of the personal shoppers available. The young people who are carrying out this service use video links to help customers shop, and payment is made via the customer giving their credit card details directly to the retailer over the telephone. Kinski says a commission-based payment system will be devised for the personal shoppers.

“They’re completely managing it themselves. I have to say, they were all over here last night and they’re so professional.”

A graphic designer friend, Aidan Fraser, created Shop Kaikoura’s banner in his spare time last week, and another friend subedited the copy Kinski wrote for the site. She will spend the rest of this week getting Shop Kaikoura set up but plans to allow the community to take it over afterwards.

Kinski wants the site to raise awareness around New Zealand that Kaikoura is open for business.

“Heaps of shops in Kaikoura are not set up for online shopping, but technology is available to circumvent that,” she says.

Reactions from the retailers involved have been good, Kinski says. She introduced the idea to them in a meeting on Friday.

“It was a little bit like Christmas because people left with a smile on their face.”

Retailers in Kaikoura are exhausted, she says. Many are dealing with multiple insurance claims for broken houses and commercial premises.

“Many of the people I talk to don’t sleep very well because their stress levels are so high.”

The New Zealand public want to do something to help, Kinski says, and she knows that supporting these struggling businesses will have a big effect on the community.

“Pouring money into the community is one thing, but moving summer stock is another,” Kinski says. “From the retailer’s perspective, they have nothing to lose.”

This story originally appeared on The Register.