WebCentral targets SMEs

WebCentral targets SMEs Friday, 23 August, 2002

Melanie Cooper

IN a bid to draw SMEs to the web, WebCentral has created a simple website construction tool, which it is introducing through the Real Business roadshow. Local small businesses were invited to a seminar about ‘Build-your-own website’ last week.

WebCentral CEO Lloyd Ernst says while the product creates a basic brochure site, a successful experience with an affordable product will pave the way for further use of the web.

“Due to the reluctance of some SMEs to get involved with the web, a lot of sales presentations end up being primarily about education. This roadshow, while setting a platform for sales, is directed toward educating SMEs as to how to use the product, what they can do with it and where they can go from there,” says WebCentral CEO Lloyd Ernst.

Ernst says there are big advantages for the web-enabled SME but a lack of understanding and reluctance to invest has so far proved to be an obstacle. Locally, Ernst says the high cost of internet access in the past may have been a further disincentive. WebCentral general manager and training manager Wayne Bucklar says online tools like internet banking have helped introduce consumers to the web. Its web construction tool, which sells for $60 through Dick Smith, Harvey Norman, Big Byte and Noel Leeming stores, is designed to serve as the same type of introduction for SMEs, says Bucklar.

Becoming internet-enabled is increasingly important, according to Bucklar, who also lectures in e-commerce. “Companies are beginning to find that if they aren’t internet-enabled they run a real risk of lowering their resale business value.”

WebCentral also used the roadshow to encourage businesses to buy their own domain name and get it out there. “Companies, especially SMEs building a reputation, risk real damage if they are using an ISP-provided email address that fails when an ISP closes. It is an important piece of business capital so you want to own and use it; put it on your stationery and let people come to you.”

Bucklar says the WebCentral offering is not going to put web developers out of business and is in fact an opportunity for them. “We’d like to work in conjunction with web developers, with our product serving as the introduction to online practice and web developers helping users to create real online functionality and value.”

Since the product was launched in New Zealand earlier this month, Bucklar says 130 copies have been sold locally.

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