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01 Apr 2015 11:06
With e-commerce in
South Africa reaching critical mass, MTN Business is placing all bets on
capturing the small business market by launching an affordable, easy-to-use
platform that promises to get even the smallest business online.
The potential for
this market is evident in the estimated R6-billion online shopping transactions
in 2014, up from around R700-million in 2006. This growth presents a compelling
argument for small businesses to tap into this market, although simply setting
up shop is by no means a guarantee of success.
“We believe an
e-commerce presence is no longer the preserve only of large and
forward-thinking companies,” Greg Hatfield General Manager: Marketing, Products
and Solutions at MTN Business.
“Such is the opportunity that those who
ignore this opportunity are doing so at their peril. The move to an online
offering, however, has to be supported by a clear strategy to capture attention
and satisfy a need.
“With this in
mind, we have rounded out our online and e-commerce offering for small
businesses that allows anyone to create and host their site, effect
transactions and ensure their website is properly marketed to attract
businesses have struggled to justify the cost of developing an e-commerce
website, which could easily run into tens of thousands of rand. Some of these
are also recurring costs, because of the need to continually capture market
MTN’s Build Your
Business Online (BYBO) service eliminates both the cost and complexity of
setting up services like a shopping cart and payment mechanism through a
simple, template-driven interface that requires no technical skills.
A range of
different templates have been developed that are industry-specific, allowing
customers to choose the one most appropriate for their business. As with most leading
hosting services, these designs are optimised for viewing on mobile devices.
The design and
content population has also been simplified through an interface similar to
popular services such as WordPress.
we have designed the service to help businesses with search engine optimisation
and marketing services. Like any bricks-and-mortar business, you are going to
struggle to generate income if you don’t attract traffic,” says Hatfield.
interaction has also been simplified; business owners are easily able to post
to social media services like Facebook directly from the content management
MTN is banking on
the void in the market left by the withdrawal of the WozaOnline service that
provided SMEs with a simple online market place. This service is shutting up
shop in May this year, leaving roughly 50 000 businesses in the lurch.
MTN has therefore
structured packages and an easy migration path for former WozaOnline customers
in a bid to ease this pain.
BYBO offers four
different packages, as well as a 30-day free trial, which cater to the
differing needs of small businesses. The base offering consists of a simple
presence that the business owner can populate through a content management
system, a host of domain registration options, and a payment gateway enabled
e-commerce store for up to 25 products.
The top-end package
offers added benefits such as unlimited disk space, up to 5GB of space for the
e-commerce store and free domain name registration.
Prices range from
R199 per month up to R1 799 for a 12-, 24-, or 36-month contract that can be
terminated with 30-days notice.
“We have tried
to make this as simple and attractive as possible and believe there is a ready
market for a one-stop service such as this,” says Hatfield. “The e-commerce
store and payment fulfilment in itself is a major benefit because this has
traditionally required the business owner to set up relationships and services
with more than one provider.
“Now, all they
need to do is sign up for the service, provide us with the details of the bank
account into which they want to receive payments, and they’re good to go.”
marketing support is provided by MTN in the form of assistance to optimise
pages for search engines, consulting on how to maximise social media reach and
a coupon to attend a Google AdWords training workshop.
The BYBO service
runs off MTN Business’s national infrastructure that offers 99,95% uptime as well
as in-built security consistent with payment gateway standards. Customers are
provided with a complete range of payment options, from standard electronic
fund transfers and credit cards through to PayPal.
little doubt that the online space is where businesses need to be. The big
advantage for SMEs is that they can now compete with the big boys, at a fraction
of the cost,” says Hatfield. “The seamless integration of the
shopping cart and payment functionality, backed by the marketing and social
media tools, we believe, round out this offering perfectly.”
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