E-marketplace with a local touch

Ebox24 Online (Pty) Ltd. has chosen South Africa (SA) as the launching pad for ebox24 (http://www.ebox24.co.za), a business services e-marketplace for selling and buying business services. The new engine is the brainchild of MD, Juergen Laug, and marketing director, Nicole Nehaus, who come from a background of business consulting and online marketing, and, as such, are well equipped for this line of business.

Laug has held a number of sales and marketing positions worldwide in the ICT sector. He has also been a consultant for companies in Germany and SA, primarily focusing on market research and business strategy development.

Nehaus worked as a project manager for an international publishing house based in Germany, and at a local consultancy, focusing on online marketing strategies. Laug and Nehaus plan to roll out national sites in other countries in the future, placed around the existing international site, http://www.ebox24.com.

“The SA market is now ready to use such a tool, compared to three to five years ago, as it is in line with several government e-commerce initiatives. Also, the buying behavior of the SA public is changing, with people being more willing to make use of e-commerce,” says Laug.

Ebox24 has been set up purely to match two parties together, service providers and service requesters, in terms of criteria specified in their online profiles.

The Web site http://www.ebox24.co.za is not an e-procurement site. We merely match the business service sought by one party with the business service offered by another,” he says.

On competitor sites in SA, generally only one’s country of origin can be specified in the profile. With ebox24, participating companies can specify down to their province and even town of origin. Other factors that can be added into the profile include whether the service provider is a black economic empowerment company, and the service requester can specify whether it will only do business with an empowered firm.

Another differentiator is all prices are quoted in rands, not dollars or euros. Payment for the quotation process works on a pay-as-you-quote points system, as opposed to other similar sites, which charge a commission, generally a percentage of the total project price.

High security is offered in the form of VeriSign Inc., which is used by most high-security sites worldwide, aiming to assure users that their details cannot be accessed by a third party.

Research house, Gartner Inc., predicts that worldwide B2B e-commerce will reach US$4.5 trillion in 2005, with more than 500,000 enterprises already participating in e-commerce, as buyers and/or sellers.

The IDC forecasts that European B2B e-commerce will increase from

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