Small businesses have swooped on a free website offer by Westpac and accounting software firm MYOB.
The joint venture partners in GetOnline.co.nz say more than 11,000 free sites have been created since the offer was launched a year ago, surpassing their goal of 10,000.
GetOnline.co.nz gives local SMEs a free domain name and helps them build a website, which is free of charge for one year.
It was a response to a finding that more than two-thirds of New Zealand small businesses did not have a business website.
Yet MYOB research has found 44% of SMEs with a website say it has led to more customer inquiries and interest, and 36% say they have increased their income or revenue as a result.
“Three-quarters of New Zealanders research their purchase decisions online, yet only one-third have a business website,” MYOB general manager business James Scollay says.
“This means a significant number of New Zealand business owners are missing out on sales and marketing opportunities.
“Helping another 11,000 kiwi businesses get online is a great start and we hope to have even more SMEs take advantage of this initiative in the coming year.”
Industry sectors most keen to take up the offer so far have been business services (27%), retail (25%) and construction and trade (16%).
After the free year, SMEs are asked to pay about $5 a month in maintenance costs and about $30-$40 to renew the domain for another year.
Websites can cost anywhere from $1000-$20,000 to build.
Monday, October 29, 2012:
Westpac and accounting firm MYOB say 8400 free websites have been created since their joint venture offer GetOnline.co.nz was launched in June.
The launch goal was to create websites for 10,000 businesses the first year.
Uptake so far has increased the volume of websites in businesses by 5%, MYOB chief executive Julian Smith says.
GetOnline.co.nz follows a similar project between Google and MYOB in Australia.
Westpac and MYOB are targeting the 70% of New Zealand businesses that do not have a website, as calculated in an April MYOB Business Monitor survey.
Weak online business presence is despite high rates of internet consumption among New Zealander’s generally – 80% of Kiwis surveyed use the internet to research products and services before they buy, MYOBs research shows.
It was hoped the economy would notice the difference if more of New Zealand’s 457,000 small- to medium-sized enterprises have an online presence.
Most firms without websites say cost is the biggest reason they are not part of the online economy.
Websites can cost anywhere from $1000-$20,000 to build.
There is no charge to make a website using GetOnline.co.nz. The only cost to build the website and hold the domain name for a year is the 15 minutes' set-up time.
After the free year, businesses will be asked to pay about $5 a month in maintenance costs and about $40 to renew the domain for another year.
The free websites are made using the MYOB Atlas product.
Research reveals businesses with websites do better
Using the internet improves business productivity, the latest MYOB Business Monitor suggests.
The survey of 1000 businesses reveals those using cloud computing are 13% more likely to have had revenue growth over the last few months and are 43% more likely to have more work in the pipeline for the next quarter.
Employees are likely to see the benefits, too, with businesses using cloud computing 61% more likely to boost staff wages and salaries in the year ahead.
Cloud computing lets you access files and applications over the internet
MYOB general manager Julian Smith says cloud computing supports a new way of working – allowing businesses to become more mobile and their teams to work remotely and for teams and businesses to collaborate.
“These businesses also found lower costs in a range of areas, from reduced IT management to scalable technology costs.”
Customers could also benefit from increased use of the cloud, with 29% of surveyed businesses saying they would pass on any administrative cost savings directly to customers.
NZIER principal economist Shamubeel Eaqub says the results of the MYOB survey highlight the potentially transformational effects of the internet for the local economy.
“Reduction in communication costs and the expansion of networks brings the world closer to New Zealand. It also offers opportunities to collaborate and drive efficiencies and the potential for greater innovation.”
New Zealand had fallen down when it came to adapting and diffusing technology through the economy, he says.
SMEs provide 30% of all employment in New Zealand and contribute almost 40% of GDP.
MYOB has just spent $30 million in research and development in creating a cloud-enabled platform of its accounting software package, to be released launching early next month.
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