What is an export portal?

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 begun to compile a 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 include:

  • 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 services
  • A portal 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 exporting
  • 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 activities.

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: chris@exporthelp.org. Tell us what you need or what you think is wrong with the site or how it can be improved. We value your input.

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 just 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.