Hibu launches online businesses store

Aims to give SMBs leg-up in luring mobile and online customers

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Hibu, the provider of business directories previously known as Yell Group, is launching a cloud service that it says can help small and midsized businesses compete with larger rivals in securing more online and mobile customers.

The company's business store, which opens today, offers organisations a range of services - including registering domains (£6.99 per year), publishing and hosting websites (£6.99 per month), and setting up online stores (£8.99 per month), which can be created from a range of predesigned templates.

It also helps businesses set up banner and email marketing campaigns, which are priced according to the customer's monthly budget.

Anything created on the business store automatically adapts for viewing on mobile devices and customers' own stores can be linked to a Facebook page for automatic updating. Customers can take up and customise the services themselves with or without assistance from Hibu and can try 'key products' free for 30 days.

The store also features a knowledge base that contains articles and videos on topics including setting up a blog to help with search engine optimisation, deciding on which web-based payments system to choose, setting up a store and overseeing inventory management.

Two studies conducted for Hibu last year indicated that SMBs are not making the best use of websites. One, carried out by Critical Research, showed that 37% did not have a website.

The other, by Impact Research, showed that 35% of SMBs were dissatisfied with their existing site. Of those, 88% said the website was not optimised for viewing on mobile devices.

Richard Hanscott, CEO at Hibu, told TRPro that the service was developed to address the needs of small businesses "a bit behind the curve that have a long way to go".

"We think an awful lot of businesses need to think this through as there is an opportunity not just to catch up, but to take the fight back to big established enterprises," he said. "We know a lot of businesses are dissatisfied with the website they already have, so there is a market there."

He claimed that Hibu's business store is different from competing services in enabling customers to build campaigns optimised for mobile from the start.

"If we can help small businesses not just get online, but get mobile, we think we can win a lot of new business locally," he said. "The service programs behind the store, which mean you can do it yourself or we can do it for you, make it suitable for everybody."