Standards matter to everyone and for a variety of reasons. Although they are probably not thinking about it, New Zealanders’ lives are affected every day by standards and standardisation. Every day ‘invisible’ standards solutions help keep New Zealand homes, public buildings, playgrounds, electrical appliances, and health services safe. They also protect people and our environment, and increase innovation, productivity, and trade. They are an intrinsic part of our local and global economies.
Put simply, a standard is an agreed way of doing things. Metrology – the science of measurement – is a good example. Trade and industrialisation would be almost impossible without common scales for mass, size, and volume. A long time ago, measurements in Sweden were made according to the size of the local vicar’s foot. This worked ok if people stayed within their village, but if the neighbouring vicars were bigger or smaller, it made it very difficult to trade between villages. The introduction of standard measurements made trading much easier.
There are many benefits standards provide to retailers
Standards can cut your costs through improved systems and processes; increase your customer satisfaction and build trust through improved safety, quality, and processes; and help reduce your impact on the environment – an issue which is increasingly affecting buyer choice.
Product safety standards give you and your customers assurance that the goods you are selling are safe and reliable and, in some cases, lawful. There are some products that cannot be sold in New Zealand unless they meet the safety standard, for example children’s cots, nightwear, and toys. If a product safety standard applies to products you are selling, you are responsible for ensuring your products comply with the appropriate standard. Work is currently underway at Standards New Zealand to adopt the international standard ISO 10377 Consumer product safety – Guidelines for suppliers.
Electrical fittings and appliances also cannot be sold in New Zealand unless they meet safety standards. A new fitting or appliance that is offered for sale is deemed to be electrically safe if it complies with AS/NZS 3820 Essential safety requirements for electrical equipment or an applicable standard listed in Schedule 4 of the Electricity (Safety) Regulations. This helps keep New Zealanders safe from fires, shocks, and explosions when using their toasters, hair dryers, kettles, microwaves, and so on.
Quality, environmental, risk, energy, and information security management are all covered by standards. They can offer you a leading edge in a competitive market by ensuring that your business operations are as efficient as possible, by increasing productivity, and by reassuring your customers that your products, systems and organisations are safe, reliable, and good for the environment.
Retailers should become involved in the development of standards
Standards are created by the people who need them. Experts in their fields are approved to form the committees who develop the technical content. Getting involved in this process can give you early access to information that could shape the market in the future, give your company a voice in the development of standards, and help to keep market access open.
There is more information on standards and Standards New Zealand on our website www.standards.govt.nz. You can follow progress of standards development work by subscribing to Standards New Zealand’s free e-magazine Touchstone.
Retail NZ and Standards New Zealand are interested in having a conversation with retailers on the importance of standards, and why standards are relevant to retail businesses. If you have any questions or need more information send an email to email@example.com.
By, Carmen Mak, Manager, Standards New Zealand