By Daniel Hunter

hibu plc have announced a new online store to help small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) fight back against large enterprises in the battle for mobile and online customers.

The move recognises that SMEs need help to take advantage of online growth in retail and services and aims to help them compete. At the new hibu business store, a business can create a website or online shop that is fully optimised for mobile and start selling and advertising to prospects in the space of 10 minutes.

“In business, you need to be where your customers are. Increasingly, customers are online and using smartphones and tablets to find and purchase products locally. Historically, SMEs have not had access to the necessary tools to target those customers," Richard Hanscott, Chief Executive Officer of hibu in the UK, said.

“They are also time-poor, lacking in IT resource and some are even a little scared of the online and mobile worlds - that’s a huge wasted opportunity. With the launch of hibu business, we are providing the most comprehensive set of tools all in one place for SMEs to compete strongly in the online and mobile worlds before it is too late.”

The need

Research commissioned by hibu shows that 37 per cent of small and medium businesses do not have a website. Satisfaction levels with current websites are also low: only 35 per cent of SMEs with a website reported they are satisfied with it. By contrast, according to the Office for National Statistics, 67 per cent of adults in Great Britain research products and services online, and the same proportion had bought goods and services via the internet in the last year.

The picture is similar when it comes to mobile. Eighty eight per cent of SMEs with a website say it is not optimised for viewing on mobiles or tablets. This is despite the fact that 51 per cent of adults in Great Britain access the internet via mobile, 85 per cent of UK smartphone users have searched for local information and 81 per cent of these took action as a result.

The solution provides an intuitive user experience from start to finish. From registering a domain to designing a banner advertising campaign, customers can choose from do-it-yourself or do-it-for-me options and can try key products free for 30 days. Key features include:

· Domain registration — A simple way to find and buy a domain name, from £6.99 per year.
· Website set-up — Customers can choose from hundreds of templates and stock photos to create and publish a professional website that is optimised for mobile and social from day one. Pricing starts at £6.99 per month. Customers preferring the do-it-for-me option can choose turnaround times from 24 hours to five days, with prices starting at £399.
· Online store set-up — Everything a business needs to start selling online; mobile and search engine optimised and ready to go in a matter of minutes. Pricing starts at £8.99 per month.
· Banner advertising — A fast and intuitive tool that automatically creates banner ads that are optimised across desktop and mobile. Customers can choose their desired monthly spend and number of impressions, starting at £150 and 25,846 impressions per month.
· Email marketing — A customer relationship management tool that lets businesses create and execute email campaigns with a few clicks. Pricing starts at £6.99 per month.

All do-it-yourself products are backed by 24/7 phone and email support, in-depth product tutorials and a wealth of expert information from the hibu Knowledge Centre.

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