NRMA sinks $100m in e-commerce strategy

Insurer NRMA Holdings is spending $100 million in an electronic commerce strategy in the next three years.

To capitalise on its strong brand presence and its 3.7-million-strong national customer base, NRMA intends selling to consumers, other businesses and employees.

The three-pronged strategy will cover business to business (B2B), business to consumer (B2C) and business to employees (B2E).

The company's general manager of strategy and e-commerce, Mario Pirone, said Internet presence must be offset by physical presence and ongoing investment.

Australia's largest insurance group, which plans to float in August, wants to use the strategy to wipe up to 10 per cent off its $1 billion procurement expenditure, Pirone said.

Pirone thinks that a "clicks and mortar" approach will let NRMA build on the trust invested in its brands.

"The major brands are now coming back to take some of that technology and make extensions to their existing distribution to B2C rather than start-ups taking the advantage," Pirone said.

"Although the insurance industry as a whole has been relatively slow in this area, the major brands, if they apply themselves, can get a bit of an edge on the whole situation."

Pirone said NRMA was using a "holistic" approach to harness benefits across the B2B, B2C, and B2E spaces.

NRMA research showed there needed to be a physical as well as online presence in the insurance and financial products sector as well as a continuing investment in the brand, he said.

NRMA has already spent about $17 million on its e-commerce strategy, mostly in the area of infrastructure, intranet development and a new Web site.

"If you think of NRMA's strength, where it has come from, it has been a direct underwriter, straight to the customer, a strong brand with a lot of trust," Pirone said.

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