The recent COVID-19 outbreak has meant many essential services are now able to sell products online, even if their physical store must remain closed. Converting a business to an online store can be a challenge. However for some forward-thinking Taupō businesses the transition has been relatively smooth. “We’d been working on an online store for a number of months before the outbreak” says Ross, joint owner of Lakeside Meats Taupō. “It was a bit of an investment to get it set up properly, and a few people thought it wasn’t a great idea. But we’re so pleased we did it. We can now continue to service our community right through the lockdown” says Ross. Ross and his business partner Davidson prepare the orders in the store, making sure they keep two meters apart while they work. “We keep the butchery bench in between us and take it all pretty seriously. We both have families at home and want to stay safe for them” says Ross. Orders are either delivered or collected from a table outside the store, ensuring that the process remains contactless. The pair are working closely with their suppliers to continue to stock a good range of products. “Everything we have in the shop is available on the website. It’s not just meat boxes or gourmet cuts. We realise it’s not always easier for everyone to order online, particularly for our older customers. So we’re happy to take phone orders if needed” says Ross. Fruit and vegetable store Lake Local has also converted their shop to an online delivery business. “A few years ago we’d been operating an organic fruit and veg delivery service in the Taupō area” says Blair, joint owner of Lake Local. “At the time we didn’t have enough interest and we decided to close. But we kept the ordering system in case we needed it in the future. We’re so pleased we did” says Blair. The store is offering their full produce range, along with subscription-based fruit and veggie boxes. “Although we miss seeing our customers each day at the shop, we really happy that we can continue to help them during the lockdown. We have a lot of elderly customers who are feeling really overwhelmed, so we help them through the order process over the phone. Further down the track we may be able to add meat and dairy products to the boxes, but for the moment we want to make sure all our systems are sorted before we start expanding” says Blair. In the future Blair would like to see more fresh produce grown locally. “The lockdown has given us a chance to slow down, reflect, and think of ways we can support each other as a community. We have an amazing local geothermal resource and lots of space for planting. The greenhouses out at Mokai are a good example. I’d like to see us pooling our knowledge and learning how to grow fruit and vegetables right here in Taupō” says Blair.