Websites free - Westpac and MYOB reveal new venture

There may be no such thing as a free lunch, but there is now such a thing as a free website for Kiwi businesses – for a year, at least.

Westpac chief executive Peter Clare says he would be “lapping up” the free website offer being made to businesses throughout the country.

Kiwi firms don’t have to pay a cent to make a website using GetOnline.co.nz – a joint venture between Westpac and accounting software firm MYOB.

The only cost to build the website and to hold the domain name for a year is the estimated 15 minutes set-up time.

GetOnline.co.nz is targeting the 70% of New Zealand businesses which don’t have a website, according to the April MYOB Business Monitor survey.

Most say cost is the biggest reason they are not part of the online economy. Websites can cost anywhere from $1000 to $20,000 to build.

“If I was a small business I’d definitely be lapping this up,” Mr Clare says.

The offer will help push the country’s small businesses into the 21st century, he says.

When 80% of Kiwis use the internet to learn about products and services before they buy, it doesn’t make sense not to be part of the online economy.

The free websites will be made using the MYOB Atlas product, which can create an online store, a payments page to accept invoice payments online, access Google tools to help the business be found online, choose from customised themes and integrate with social media such as Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

MYOB assures businesses they will own the website and the domain name, and can cancel the site at any time.

After the free year, they will be asked to pay about $5 a month in maintenance costs and about $40 to renew the domain for another year.

Westpac and MYOB have set a goal of 10,000 businesses online in the first year.

Hitting that target will be a “real achievement”, Westpac head of business banking Ian Blair says.

“The head space of small business owners is often taken up with thinking about where their next sale will come from, so providing them this tool could really make a difference,” he says.

MYOB research reveals businesses with websites do better.

In the year to March 31, 42% with a website increased their revenue, compared to 29% without a website.

It is hoped the economy will also notice the difference if more of New Zealand’s 457,000 small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have an online presence.

Broader economic benefits could come through greater exporting opportunities and a more nimble and responsive economy.

SMEs provide 30% of all employment in New Aealand and contribute almost 40% of GDP.

Already, 400 websites have been built during a pre-launch phase over the last week.

GetOnline.co.nz follows a similar project between Google and MYOB in Australia.

A snapshot of New Zealand’s online businesses (From the MYOB Business Monitor online survey of 1000 businesses - April 2012)

- Just 32% of New Zealand businesses have a website.
- In the year to March 31, 42% with a website increased their revenue, compared to 29% without one.
- In 2012, 51% of businesses with a website expect revenues to increase, compared to 37% without.
- 30% of businesses have enjoyed increased revenue directly as a result of having a website.
- 35% of businesses with a website say it has made them more competitive.
- 43% report more customer leads and 35% report a better conversion rate.
- 26% have been able to sell overseas as a result of operating a website.
 

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