Central Otago businesses are about to be introduced to an international trend which is set to change the retail landscape.
The Central Otago District Council has organised a workshop to inform business owners about Alipay, a Chinese smartphone app payment platform or “digital wallet”, used instead of credit cards and eftpos. More than 520million Chinese use Alipay.
Retailers who sign up will be able to sell to those Chinese tourists who prefer and expect that form of payment system.
About 400,000 Chinese visit New Zealand each year and that number is increasing. About 60% choose to be free independent travellers.
CODC’s economic development manager Warwick Hawker said the majority of the Chinese visitors would be more likely to buy from business owners who accepted Alipay.
In addition, if they knew the system was accepted, they were more likely to travel further afield, stay longer and spend more.
District Mayor Tim Cadogan supported the adoption of Alipay.
“If businesses don’t have that, they are watching money walk or drive past their doors,” he said.
“As mayor, I do not want to see empty retail spaces in the towns of Central Otago.
“However, times are changing rapidly in retail and the opening of the Amazon Warehouse in Melbourne to service Australia and New Zealand is going to have a big effect on local retail.
“The only effective thing that council and myself can do to try to support our local businesses in adapting to the changing retail landscape is to increase the number of potential customers.”
He said Chinese independent travellers spent upwards of $100,000,000 in Queenstown each year.
“Getting a percentage of that sum spent locally could be the difference in saving shops and saving jobs.
“However, the vast majority of those potential customers will not come here or will not stop here when travelling if our businesses don’t have Alipay, as that is how the visitors spend when at home and overseas.”
Mark Orbell, who owns Ridgeline Adventures in Wanaka, is one of more than 3000 businesses who have already expressed an interest or who have signed up to Alipay.
[of Chinese business], but of those that I have had, it has been beneficial for both customer and ourselves,” Mr Orbell said.
“It is a convenient, efficient and easy payment method.”
He said he had a QR code which the customer scanned into their phone, and that opened the payment “gateway”.
They input the dollar value into the phone and Mr Orbell receives his money.
“In addition, if a client in China wishes to buy a trip, all we have to do is email the QR to them over the phone.
“We have to trust they will put the right amount of money in, but we get a report so we can see the transaction details.”