An Invercargill-based business is using the power of online to promote its products and brand, all without a shop to do it from.
It’s a move that Southland Regional Development Strategy governance group chair Tom Campbell said was inevitable for Southland’s economy.
The Plant Store, an online nursery which sells plants, trees and shrubs and offers garden consultations is a completely online store, working on building trusting relationships with its customers rather than having a physical shop.
Owner Michael Tither said setting up online meant there had been very little cost associated with setting up the business.
“It allowed us to access the market and provide a full service,” he said.
Since starting the business two years ago, there had been a 100 per cent increase in business, Tither said.
“It’s a good way to start… because it’s minimum investment but there’s a lot more than meets the eye in terms of the website,” he said.
Such online ventures were a business model that were becoming inevitable in today’s economy, Campbell said.
“I don’t see it as a bad thing,” he said.
Southland’s economy could benefit from online businesses because the region’s distance would become less important, he said.
“No doubt there will always be people who want to come to the CBD but equally there will be people who want to shop online,” he said.
Campbell said he believed Invercargill’s CBD would shrink in the years to come.
“The CBD was built for a different year,” he said.
“I would expect to see in 25, 30, 50 years time [it] will be a far more compact city centre.”
Tither said although The Plant Store did not have a physical retail shop for customers, it had a physical distribution centre in Invercargill, but this was used to access and send its products all over New Zealand, rather than serving as a retail space.
While he did not think working out of Invercargill was necessarily cheaper, a lower commercial rent for their distribution centre made Invercargill an ideal base, he said.
The business also ran pop-up stores, including one in Invercargill at the weekend.
The pop-up store allowed the business to showcase its products and build further relationships with customers, Tither said.