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17 Apr 2015 08:41
South Africa’s small businesses can now easily grow their basic Web sites into fully-fledged cloud-based online retail businesses, says MTN
Greg Hatfield, GM: Marketing, Products & Solutions at MTN
Business, says for many local SMEs, an online presence is little more than a
digital advertisement. Small businesses typically do not have the technical
resources to spend time developing a Web site, or they may not even be aware of
the importance of having a Web site, he says.
SMEs tend, of necessity, to focus
on their core business and depend heavily on word of mouth to get business.
“But an online presence has become crucial for businesses
to thrive in today’s market,” says Hatfield. Underlining the importance of
an online presence, the 2012 SME Survey conducted by World Wide Worx found
around 410 000 SMEs in SA had a Web site, and those with a Web site were far
more likely to be highly profitable than those without. Around 150 000 SMEs in
SA said they would not be able to survive without their Web presence. Hatfield
explains that a well-designed site, with effective SEO and use of back links,
attracts customers far beyond those that would have been reached by word of
But a presence alone is not
enough. Hatfield notes a Web site can actively contribute to revenue growth.
This is particularly important for South African small businesses, which
traditionally battle to become profitable. The most recent SME Survey found 38%
of local SMEs are not making a profit, and only 17% are ‘strongly
profitable’. Expanding into e-commerce is a cost-effective and efficient
way to grow a small business, says Hatfield. He notes according to Statista, worldwide B2C e-commerce
sales amounted to over 1.2 trillion dollars in 2013 alone, with 40% of Internet
users buying goods online. “The online retail market is growing fast. SMEs
cannot afford to miss the opportunity to tap into this trend,” he says.
Once an SME has a site that attracts good customer volumes, it
is well placed to implement an electronic payment gateway and start selling
products and services online. As it grows, the business can plug in accounting
tools and ERP solutions to its online payment systems, and start functioning as
a fully-fledged efficient cloud-based business.
This logical progression in business growth informed the
development of MTN Business’s new Build Your Business Online (BYBO) suite of
solutions for small businesses this month. BYBO aims to give small business
owners access to a set of the most crucial business tools in a single,
affordable package, starting with the basic online presence – all the way
through to e-commerce functionality and cloud-based management capability.
MTN’s BYBO packages are designed around affordability and
simplicity, with a basic online presence priced at R60 per year. Packages
including e-commerce capability start at R200 per month and include a merchant
account, 100Mb product catalogue capacity, which allows the business to
showcase up to 200 products, as well as management tools for tracking order
status, managing stock levels and generating invoices. With the integration of
SAP B1 from MTN Business as a full ERP solution, businesses can also benefit
from a comprehensive cloud-based accounting and sales management package.
Additional products, including e-mail and SMS marketing tools, directory
listing services and consulting services, are also available as part of the
“Now, a business can easily grow from a start-up to a
significant online retailer without needing in-house technical expertise or
major investment. We give businesses all the tools and advice they need to
grow,” says Hatfield.
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