What is an
A portal can broadly be defined as
an online (i.e. web-based) ‘gateway’ to
information, services and a network of people related
to a particular topic. Portals commonly come in three
basic forms; general-interest portals with a public interest
(such as M-Web’s portal), industry portals with
a narrow sector focus (such as ITWeb’s ICT portal
and, of course, ExportHelp) and enterprise portal’s
with a specific company focus (such as Old Mutual).
An export portal, therefore, is a
website that provides the visitor (usually someone interested
in exporting) with a wide range of export-related information,
services and people. A portal can provide information
of its own (i.e. proprietary information), or can point
to information available on other websites (or a combination
of these). The main benefit of a portal is that the
portal owner has taken the effort to search out all
the information that user might possibly want to have
access to and has put this information together on a
single, one-stop-shop website. This saves the user a
huge amount of time and effort. What makes a portal
good is the comprehensiveness and relevance of the information,
whether it is presented in an easy-to-access manner,
whether it’s kept up-to-date,
and whether it engenders a sense of community and belonging
amongst its target users.
How do portals differ from e-marketplaces?
A portal is primarily an information
gateway. It leads to information; it may provide access
to some services; and it probably points to a network
of people as well as companies that a user can turn
to for further assistance. An e-marketplace, on the
other hand, is usually a place where buyers and sellers
come together to do business; that is, to buy and sell.
E-marketplaces will normally have facilities to post
an offer to sell or an offer to buy. The more sophisticated
marketplaces will actually enable transactions to take
place between buyer and seller and one can expect them
to facilitate much of the paperwork/documentation that
is necessary for the sale to go through and for the
goods to be delivered in the buyer’s country.
You should be aware, however, that some portals are developing
into e-marketplaces, while many e-marketplaces are now
offering a host of supporting information and related
services. Thus the distinction between these two concepts
(i.e. portals and e-marketplaces) is beginning to blur.
At this stage ExportHelp is clearly positioned as a portal
and does not function as an e-marketplace. On the other
hand, we have tried to compile a fairly comprehensive
list of e-marketplaces, which you can browse through by clicking here.
What is the benefit of a portal to me?
There are many benefits of a portal to its users. These
- A portal is a one-stop-shop for information and related
services and saves the user effort, time and money
- A portal is available 24/7.
- Most portals offer a wide range of information and
- A portals engenders a sense of community bringing
like-minded people together
- A portal is as far away as your nearest computer.
- A portal can be accessible anywhere in a country and
has no geographic limitations in who it reaches
Why should I visit an export portal?
If you are an exporter or potential exporter, you should
visit an export portal with the view of becoming a better
and more efficient exporter. What you learn from a portal
should help you achieve greater success. You would visit
an export portal to access:
- Reference information such as airline codes, HS codes,
translator programs, list of acronyms, etc.
- Learning information covering all of the aspects of
becoming a competitive exporter
- Networking information linking you to individuals
and firms that will help you to export better
- Export tools, guides and checklists that will help
you tackle some of the tasks you are faced with when
- Market(ing) information that will help you compile
the marketing research you need to do and to prepare
a winning marketing strategy for your firm
An export portal should thus help you do all of the desk
research that you need to do by either providing the information
you need or pointing you to suitable sources of information
that you can use.
Of course you don’t have to
visit an export portal. Instead you can spend days and
weeks searching for the information on the Internet.
This may seem fulfilling, but few exporters can afford
the time for this tedious (and often frustrating) work.
So, instead, we welcome you to ExportHelp and just you
make use of the site to help you with all of your export
If ExportHelp has any shortcomings – and we are
sure there is still much we can do to improve the site – please
let us know, by sending an email to:
. Tell us what you
need or what you think is wrong with the site or how it
can be improved. We value your imput.
Give me some examples of export portals
Start with ExportHelp! We of course recommend that you
begin with ExportHelp. We are working to ensure that ExportHelp
is one of the best export portals currently available.
Besides for ExportHelp, we suggest that you visit the following
portals and browse through what they have to offer. Although
each portal is packaged a little differently, we are nevertheless
confident that by spending a bit of time on each of these
portals you will learn a lot.