E-FILES: Tender is the Web

TenderLink founder Philip Brown expects Web-based businesses such as his will have squeezed out more conventional forms of advertising in the tendering market within two years.

http://www.tenderlink.co.nz

TenderLink founder Philip Brown expects Web-based businesses such as his will have squeezed out more conventional forms of advertising in the tendering market within two years.

New Plymouth-based Brown set up TenderLink New Zealand and TenderLink Australia in 1992 and by the end of the year, the business will be "a totally interactive site".

"Everything will be on the Internet and we will use the Web site to manage our business completely. That will be true business-to-business e-commerce."

TenderLink offers a range of tendering services to the corporate world and local and central government. It has more than 70 categories and more than 3000 clients within New Zealand and Australia.

The company employs 12 staff in New Plymouth, Auckland and Melbourne. Brown also runs MediaDirect, an information services company.

Brown says it is essential that sites such as his be totally interactive, with clients able to do everything online.

"Too often they will get so far and then have to go off-line to complete the process. That means you'll lose them."

He says there's Web sites often suffer a lack of planning, so that they become what the developer wants, rather than what the business requires.

"They may be very glossy but they don't really do a lot."

TenderLink uses "profiles" for clients to work in. Subscribers select the industry category they work in, the regions they want tenders from and keywords. As tender information comes in to the national database, a match is made with the profile and the tender is sent out automatically.

Brown says he expects newspapers and other publications to lose tendering advertising as the Internet becomes more widely used.

"As with jobs and cars, there is going to be a significant shift of tenders away from newspapers to the Net. It will become more obvious in six to 12 months and within two years, all tendering will be on the Net."

The reduction in costs and time saving available through Net-based services is already well documented.

Brown won't elaborate on the technology or software behind his services, except to say he's currently going through the development phase to ready the system for a launch later in the year.

He also says he can't give away too many of his strategies for launching the full-blown Web service.

"We are creating something new, though; it will be first to market in New Zealand."

The trick to its success will be to give users no other choice than to go to TenderLink and that can be achieved by some smart pricing of its services to the market.

With its base in Taranaki, TenderLink shows it's not essential to be metropolitan to be into e-commerce.

"The Internet can provide business opportunities both nationally and globally and you don't even have to put your foot out the back door," says Brown.

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