Branded Internet, SA's first private label Internet service provider company, says that it has successfully afforded computer dealers the opportunity to create an ongoing revenue stream, generate a direct channel to their customers and retain ownership of their clients.

Companies such as Mecer, Matrix Warehouse, IDS Computers and Icoza have diversified their marketing strategy, and have become Branded Internet Service Providers (BISPs).

  Many companies within the computer industry perceive owning or running an ISP as a massive undertaking, due to their not having the experience, knowledge or infrastructure to do so. Branded Internet says that it has provided the solution for them, as it claims to do all the work for its clients, including all support calls and billing. It provides automated Web-based systems, and dealers have the choice of being as involved with their customer as they want.

  Lance Terner, CEO of Branded Internet, says: “Companies work extremely hard to build their brand and gain customers and dealers. Instead of losing ownership of their clientele to a third party ISP; we have now created a winning, revenue-making opportunity for them.”

  An intrinsic part of the package is said to be a fully configurable, branded and customised customer zone Web site which the dealer can use as a portal for its BISP. It includes features such as Webmail, Web space manager, online games, the latest virus information and secure account self-management, the company says. All dial-up accounts include free unlimited 24-hour customer support, a 10Mb mailbox with five e-mail addresses, advanced virus & junk mail scanning, 10Mb of personal Web space and branded Internet connection software with automatic self-repairing diagnostics which are designed to alleviate the computer dealer’s support burden, Terner continues.

  Matrix Warehouse, the biggest privately owned retail group in the country, has become a BISP for two reasons; the company now has a major brand (its own ISP); and it uses this tool for marketing exercises.

  Matrix Warehouse has recently printed 50 000 CDs, and will be distributing them to school leavers around the county. Justin Lowe, CEO of Matrix Warehouse, says, “The reason for doing this is that we have realised that everyone will be using the Internet in the future. Instead of paying exorbitant prices through other ISPs, we are offering them the chance to have e-mail and Internet connectivity at a minimal cost.”

  Lowe says that, now that it has become an BISP, Matrix Warehouse can generate its own database, as it has the tools at its disposal. He also says that the Internet will be the advertising medium of the future.

  Gavin Nesbitt, owner of IDS Computers, says: “In the past two years we have handed over 230 users and R10 000 to another service provider. Due to this, we have changed our model to become an ISP. This is pure profit for the company, and our relationship with Branded Internet is going really well. We have found that clients prefer dealing with someone they know. That is why this model works so well.” IDS Computers has found that the Internet speed has increased substantially since some of its clients have joined Branded Internet.

  Icoza, a first-tier Internet company, an Internet Solutions partner and the winner of the Top ISP from a BEE perspective, recently became a Branded Internet client.

  Manie Eager, GM of Icoza, says: “Branded Internet was committed to helping us to find solutions, as well as sort out the problems we had with our clients.” Icoza was looking for a value-added service for its existing client base and additional opportunities. “It made sense to team up with Branded Internet, as it assisted our business through offering us one solution set,” he adds.

The system has the functionality, a broad foundation, and can diversify, thus being able to address the needs and requirements of both individuals and large corporates, Terner says. With the system being stable, flexible, well thought out and properly planned, it can cater for BISPs with between ten to one hundred thousand customers or more, equally well, he adds. Each end-user is identifiable by ownership and individual need. Key parts of the Branded ISP system include live statistics, information on customers that have signed up and individual support histories, all of which give BISPs complete transparency, he continues. These CRM features provide dealers with another value-added service that is not available elsewhere, the company concludes.

ICT World