Poi Eruera, operations manager, Odettes Eatery & Hugo’s Bistro. Photo / Supplied

American Express Thinks Local, Launching Its Shop Small Initiative In New Zealand

How American Express is helping New Zealand small businesses and local retailers

If 2020 has made anything clear, it’s how important it is to shop closer to home. With that approach front of mind, American Express has launched its Shop Small initiative in New Zealand for the first time this year  - encouraging people to support local retailers and restaurants during what has been an incredibly challenging year for many. Shop Small celebrates small businesses, highlights their importance within our communities, and rallies consumers to support them.

American Express is also expanding; thanks to a new partnership with  BNZ, and American Express’ own efforts to grow its merchant network, since the start of 2019, Card Members will be able to use their cards at more than 19,000 additional places across New Zealand.

A number of small local businesses recently sat down with Viva to talk planning, pivoting and the pandemic.


How has 2020 affected Odettes?
This year has been a roller coaster! We’ve weathered two lockdowns but emerged from both with our team intact and a smile on our faces (even under a mask!) There’s no greater feeling than a restaurant full of happy people celebrating - enjoying great food, good wine, and each other’s company.

How have your customers supported you in this ‘new normal’?
They’ve been incredible! When we re-opened it was like having a constant stream of good friends come in every day. They have graciously put up with the gentle reminders to check in with the government app, rule changes, and events rescheduling. We have had customers who used to work in City Works Depot make a real effort to come in and visit us, which is so appreciated as our customers/friends do really make the day great.

Have you noticed a shift in customer spending?
We immediately noticed a celebratory mood as soon as we moved to Level 2. Mimosas with breakfast, a lovely glass of rosé at lunch — people were happy to be experiencing restaurants again and were much more likely to have a drink any day of the week. They were excited to be out and interact not only with their dining companions, but also with their waiters. Basically, it always felt like a Friday night!

Settling the bill can be a nice moment of connection - what do you like about it?
This final moment is extremely important in our restaurant. It gives a customer a chance to provide feedback, and if something is wrong, it gives us the chance to fix it. Sometimes it’s a time we can let them know about a special event coming up or tell a funny story, ask after their kids, or exchange compliments by asking where someone’s beautiful dress is from!

How can Kiwis ‘Shop Small’ and support small businesses to help ensure their survival?
If there is a local café, restaurant or shop that you love, make an effort to do more of your spending there. Appreciate the time and skill that goes into small businesses and NZ handmade products and support the artisan. Oh, and make an effort to buy all Christmas gifts from a small local business.


Michael Wobcke, Director, Diamonds On Richmond. Photo / Supplied

How has 2020 affected Diamonds on Richmond?
For us (like everyone) 2020 has been an interesting year of change and adapting to the new landscape of the world… we’ve had to make a few changes to the business model to adapt and protect the business for any future lockdowns but in general we have seen a lot of growth and positive changes to the landscape of our business.

What initiatives did you launch during the Covid period?
A great feature we added to our website after the first lockdown was a sequence of online interactive videos to give the user an in-store experience all from the comfort of their own home. This interactive sequence of videos walks the client through an in-store consultation and gives them a great education on everything we offer for their engagement ring purchase.

Since a lot of our clients (before Covid-19) purchased their jewellery duty free we have also implemented a GST discount promotion on any purchase. With this promotion we are offering a discount to the client equivalent to the GST portion of their purchase, so, essentially, they are buying their jewellery duty free without leaving the country! Winning!

How did your customers support you in this ‘new normal’?
We were absolutely blown away by the support of new and existing clients through this difficult time, we had new clients paying deposits for jewellery where we couldn’t even give them a timeframe on when the piece would be finished in our workshop… or even when our workshop will be back open! Then once our store and workshop was back open we had a big surge of clients coming in and buying. I guess if you survive lockdown as a non-married couple... getting married is the next step in life!

Have you noticed a shift in customer spending?
We’ve noticed that the average spend amount has increased, which we are putting down to not being able to travel overseas at the moment so there’s more money to spend on a significant purchase like an engagement or wedding ring.

Do many of your customers use American Express?
We are definitely seeing a lot more clients using Amex, they get such great rewards with Amex and combined with a higher-priced purchase like an engagement ring it’s a no brainer for a lot of our clients.

Why is community so important to the survival of small businesses?
Community is definitely key to the survival of small businesses; building a strong authentic brand that the consumer can trust is key and then building a community around that brand ensures the survival of that small business. A large amount of our clients come from word of mouth and that’s a sign to us that we are building a strong community around our brand.

If you’re an eligible American Express Card Member you can get up to $50 back when you support your local small businesses. Save the Shop Small offer to your eligible American Express Card first and you’ll receive $5 back* for every $10 or more spent in one transaction, instore only at participating small businesses until 31 December 2020 — up to 10 times. This offer is limited. Exclusions, T&Cs apply. Save the offer to your Card at Amex.co.nz/ShopSmall.

Visit Amex.co.nz/shopsmall for offer terms, conditions, exclusions and to see the Shop Small participating businesses.

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