June 08, 1999

Ipoh Online reaching out

FOR web information provider, Ipoh Online Sdn Bhd, hard work has begun to pay off. When the company built www.ipoh-online.com.my in 1997, the intention was to provide basic information about the state with links to popular sites and search engines.

The site has since expanded its original role as an information provider to include other services, and advertising revenue has been trickling in since December.

Webmaster Steven Chee told In.Tech that new additions such as a mailing list, chat room and direct links to other sites helped generate more traffic.

``We have close to 2,000 subscribers and receive enquiries from people interested to place their homepages on our server,'' he added.

Other services which helped bring in more traffic were classified ads and a ``picture hall'' for newlyweds.

This enthusiastic response also has inspired the company to outline plans to enhance the website with audio and video streaming, even more local content, and the setting up of forums for discussions.

``Someone has approached us for help to set up a section catering to horse-racing enthusiasts, and we are building the page with him,'' said Chee.

The section, which would be updated daily, will contain a racing schedule and results, including backgrounds and analysis of the race horses.

The company also intends to replicate the site in Mandarin and Japanese to help increase traffic. A search engine is in the works as well.

``With the new services, we hope more people will visit our website,'' Chee said.

With the anticipated growth in traffic, Ipoh Online is also planning to test out e-commerce applications to prepare for the future.

``Once the bankers and government are ready, we will be able to get vendors to sell stuff on our site,'' said Chee.

Instead of targeting import/export businesses, Ipoh Online is keen to sign on any vendor interested to advertise products or services -- as long as the content is related to Ipoh and Perak.

The site also has seen a measure of success with its hotel and map webpages, which are useful to anyone looking for holiday or business accommodation in the state.

Ipoh Online, a subsidiary of Shen Jai Computer Centre Sdn Bhd, has spent RM180,000 to develop the website. -- ANITA MATTHEWS