How NZ businesses are handling the Covid-19 lockdown, online

New Zealand is currently in lockdown at Alert level 4, as I write this blog post.

It’s been an interesting time for the country having had to essentially wing it every step of the way in the face of the covid-19 pandemic.

I say this in terms of business, because the lockdown in New Zealand right now is a little different to that in other countries.

Basically, everything came to a halt the moment the country went into lockdown at Alert Level 4.

Travel around the place is restricted to essential travel only, with swift police enforcement.

Supermarkets, hospitals, clinics, fuel stations, dairies (corner stores for those not familiar) and pharmacies remain open but just about every other business has to shut down.

However as the 4 week lockdown has progressed, the authorities have relaxed restrictions.

Now a lot of other businesses have been allowed to resume operations, specifically delivery of goods, provided they only take orders online and only for essentials.

This is a big deal because there’s only so many things you can get from a supermarket. For example, the range of clothes, stationery items and even electrics are severely limited at a supermarket.

So it’s heartening to see businesses like The Warehouse, Warehouse Stationery, KMart, JB Hifi and Noel Leeming get back into the swing of things.

What’s also heartening, as a marketer, is that none of these businesses have “done an Ocado”.

Ocado in the UK has crumbled due to the demand in its grocery delivery services and who can blame them – this is something no one could have predicted coming! Previously you could just browse the site freely which also means, search engines could crawl the site freely.

But to stem the demand and put less strain on their tired servers, Ocado has pretty much forced people to login or sign up before being able to browse the site which means even search engines get blocked out.

Now, granted the Kiwi businesses are not seeing the same level of demand (nowhere near the same population!) but they’re definitely selling out of things super quick. But they still have their websites online, they still let people place orders, but they make it very clear that deliveries will take a while and people need to be patient.

This means their websites still remain accessible to search engines and they won’t necessarily be impacted negatively in the SERPs.

Ocado on the other hand, has seen rankings tank. Traffic to the site would still be high but this block would reduce conversions because people don’t like friction – and if you’ve never signed up before, you may not sign up at all. And even if you have an account, you still may not sign in. People can be lazy!

And although Ocado is a thriving business, the drop in rankings is an issue because there’d still be a lot of organic traffic they’re missing out (non branded queries).

So I salute the NZ businesses for doing the right thing by staying online, keeping their website indexable and accessible and also updating their meta data to reflect deliveries being available during the lockdown.

A lot of people would be searching for queries related to the lockdown so this is a very low hanging fruit that can’t be missed.

A cool thing I saw on Facebook was the launch of – which is a growing directory of independent businesses in New Zealand that are online, operational and delivering during the Covid-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown – and these are businesses that comply with MBIE’s criteria for essential services (since you’re only allowed to sell/provide essential services during this time). Stuff like this is just amazing because it shows that people recognise a widespread pain point and want to do their bit to help. And this is brilliant because it’s supporting independent businesses who don’t have the luxury of falling back on massive cash reserves like a multinational can.

As an SEO expert in Auckland, I approve of this strategy. And look forward to seeing this lockdown lifted, more business activity and for this wretched novel coronavirus covid-19 to go away forever.

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