Turning on e-business in the real world
Turning on e-business in the real world.
Many New Zealanders feel like they need the computer literacy of Bill Gates to be able to understand the array of IT acronyms they're faced with when all they want is to be able to put their company brochure online or be able to sell their products online. It's often so confusing and expensive to get a website that many people keep putting this essential business requirement on the backburner, in the 'too hard' basket or even opting out altogether. Is being able to speak in plain English to a 'real person' in the 'real world' too much to ask?
Providing web design and development services 'in the real world' is a new approach pioneered by Auckland based 'On Company Ltd'. On Company (www.on.co.nz) is a web development company that offers an 'everyday, affordable, attainable service' in a street level, retail environment. On Company's bright red retail studio in Auckland's busy Greenlane Road/Great South Road intersection has become a beacon for business owners to meet face-to-face with a web services/e-business supplier in a traditional 'bricks and mortar' retail environment.
Since launching twelve months ago, On Company has been a huge success, reaching breakeven in its third month of operations and proving a welcome alternative for a rapidly expanding client base. From just $895 for a professional tailored website, when many people pay thousands, it's hardly surprising that On Company has achieved success so rapidly.
"It's high-tech meets main street" explains On Company founder and CEO Andy Mundell. "With the complexities of web development and the e-businesses environment there's simply no substitute for dealing with 'real people' in a customer focussed environment to bridge that divide" he says. "Many people come in off the street and exclaim what a relief it is that we exist!"
The idea of selling online services in a retail environment was conceived by Mundell following a comprehensive market study he conducted in 2005/06 that revealed that the majority (82%) of New Zealand businesses didn't have a website (source OECD Statistics). Focus groups following the study found the most common causes for NZ SME's not having a website were principally a 'lack of understanding, high costs, and a lack of knowing where to get it'.
Mundell says this need was further reinforced when he first presented his business idea to key players in the IT industry with a view to outsourcing programming. "The industry is fixated on having the technology deliver the technology. While potential customers embraced the new business concept, the industry simply saw it as counter-intuitive. What they fail to recognise is that people still want to deal with people and this is especially true for those who do not wish to include IT acronyms in their vocabulary. The industry talks of selling solutions to users, we talk of selling services to customers. Therein lies the fundamental difference" Mundell says.
On Company's central Auckland pilot store is at 213 Great South Road, Greenlane. Mundell plans to grow On Company into a national franchise offering all New Zealanders a tangible customer service experience to navigate the often confusing path for moving their business online.
The world is changing. As Bill Gates put it Oct 2005, "We must act quickly and decisively. The next sea change is upon us." This couldn't be truer. Now New Zealand SME can find the advice, the service and the price point they need to get their own slice of the online pie.
For more check out www.on.co.nz