Website to support retailers

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    Invercargill City Council city centre co-ordinator Kari Graber views a new website being developed to promote and showcase Invercargill and its inner city businesses.

    INVERCARGILL’S inner city businesses are set to get a boost with the launch of a website platform designed to promote the city and support its retailers next Sunday.

    Invercargill City Council (ICC) city centre co-ordinator Kari Graber said it would be a “soft launch”, as further development and enhancement of the site was planned, including developing e-commerce capability to enable customers to purchase from city businesses online.

    Gore launched an e-commerce site about 18 months ago. Data from BNZ and Paymark showed sales for businesses in Gore had increased by 14% as a result, not taking into consideration purchases by cash or other debit cards, she said.

    The development of the ICC-sponsored website and creation of a new brand for Invercargill was the first phase of the Invercargill City Centre Retail Strategy adopted by the council earlier this year to revitalise the CBD. The new brand was revealed in mid-August.

    The strategy was developed by Wellington-based retail consultants First Retail Group in consultation with the ICC, the Southland Chamber of Commerce and CBD property and business owners.

    First Retail Group managing director Chris Wilkinson said one of the issues identified in the strategy was the city’s lack of digital visibility.

    “Digital visibility is a key factor in the success of a city centre.”

    Customers were increasingly researching online and making purposeful decisions before visiting businesses, so having a digital presence was important, he said.

    Developed by Wellington-based e-commerce specialists Storbie, the website Invercargillnz.com will provide information and resources for people wanting to visit, work, live or study in Invercargill.

    Ms Graber said it would include a directory of businesses in the CBD, information on events and activities in the city, a guide to where to find help to set up a new business or further develop an existing business and where to go to rent a space in the CBD. Invercargill brand merchandise could also be purchased via the site.

    A selection of successful Southland-owned and operated businesses would also be showcased on the site, telling their stories and highlighting what makes their businesses special and unique so customers could connect with those stories, encouraging them to support the businesses, she said.

    Invercargillnz.com website is expected to be operational on October 29.

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