© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2020

Small businesses able to sell online for free

Finlay Dunseath
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New startup, Swiftly.nz, is providing free online storefronts for businesses who are forced to move their sales to a digital platform during Level 3.

Last weekend 'Hack The Crisis NZ' took place online with close to 1000 Kiwis taking part. The digital event was a collaborative effort from a number of start-up networks to encourage an active virtual response to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

One of the fan favourites of the competition, Swiftly.nz, produced a lifeline for small businesses struggling to get by in lockdown. Their team of IT-focused trio Matt Weston, Walter Lim and William Seagar, is based in Auckland.

Swiftly is a simple online storefront which can be set up in as little as 10 minutes and requires no online experience or knowledge. The digital shop front provides small businesses with the ability to quickly start selling to their local customer base once the nationwide lockdown drops to level 3.

The service is offered for free as it doesn't use an integrated payment system, which means that it is the business' responsibility to organise payment methods.

"Swiftly may not be the 'right solution' forever, but it's a great right now solution," the developers said.

"We made Swiftly free because we believe it’s the right thing to do - the last thing small businesses need right now is another barrier they have to overcome to get stuff out the door. This is something that we can do to help, so we’re doing it." 

The team is working tirelessly to improve service, looking to add more features such as a delivery option in addition to the existing 'click and collect'.

 

Swiftly v3.nz

Sam MacKinnon, founder of business blog Knook NZ,  believes the service could go a long way to help businesses get back on their feet. 

"For those businesses who have been unable to operate during level 4, there's a number of standard costs that they've had to cover without the help of bringing in income. It's been a challenging time for most small businesses so resources like Swiftly are a great way to help bring some cash-flow in," he said.

MacKinnon notes that as physical stores aren't bringing in money this low-cost approach to sales could boost small business' confidence to try out new ideas. 

"It may give people the opportunity to try an idea out with minimal costs which can help to stimulate the economy as we come out of lockdown.  And it can become a strong sales channel for people who may be concerned about their health even as restrictions lift," he said.

Swiftly's developers claim they may be able to integrate a payment system in the near future but, at a cost to businesses. However, they say that the base model of the service will always be free.

MacKinnon believes that the introduction of Swiftly could see a change in the way small businesses operate.

"This long-term free access could see the rise of sales being done exclusively through Swiftly as opposed to even considering a physical location - much like the early days of Facebook."

You can find out more information about the service at Swiftly.nz