Embassy trade app
App in a nutshell
In the first place the app serves Dutch private enterprises and individuals that have an interest in doing business abroad. But also foreign enterprises with an interest in doing business with the Netherlands can profit from this app.
- User profile: A user profile will be created for individual app users. This profile (name, email address, company) will be used for embassy newsletter purposes, trade missions etc.;
- Sector News. News from either host country or The Netherlands that is relevant for bi-lateral business;
- Embassy Today. News updates in classic form (news and announcements) and social form (Facebook, Twitter);
- Business Directory. Listing and mapping companies doing bi-lateral business and that are known to the embassy. Users can register their own company to be listed here;
- Opportunity Board. A message board for demand and supply of services and goods. Posts can be made by both embassy and app users;
- Events. A listing of events in the countries that the app users have selected to have an interest in.
- Embassy Support Desk. Features include a description of the typical services that the embassy provides for facilitating business. It also provides useful information on available funds and practical tips for doing business with local people. Here the embassy also provides its contact details.
- Push notifications on all features;
- Sharing items using social media;
- App users can register their own company in the app;
- App users can submit their own questions regarding supply and demand;
- Events can be easily added to the mobile native calendars through iCal;
- Specific contact email address for individual news post and categories of news;
In 2014 the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Romania launched an app that is meant to provide its business network with targeted information on relevant developments in the Romanian economy and to facilitate an active dialogue.
For more than 10 years, the Embassy has been sending monthly economic newsletters per e-mail. The news in this newsletter covers numerous sectors. However, we perceived there were some disadvantages to this medium. First, it was a monthly newsletter, flooding the reader with a large bulk of information at once. Second, we were not sure which items were actually read or appreciated by the readers. And third, we hardly received feed-back from our readers. Despite a positive outcome of a survey we conducted a few years ago, we had the feeling there was room for improvement. This triggered us to look for a more direct, on-line, interactive, and user-friendly medium. The Dutch Embassy in Romania is the first Dutch embassy in the world that now offers customised economic news through a mobile app.
Development started late 2013 and the first version only contained a news section. During the second phase 7 new features were added that became available in August 2014. At the end of September, statistics show that approx. 200 users have downloaded our app on their devices. The target is to have 300 users by end of the year.
Meanwhile the Embassies in Costa Rica, Panama and Mexico have joined this pilot. As a result the app with focus on Romania will be transformed into an international version.
The first version of the app, called “NL-RO TRADE”, was build for the Dutch embassy in Romania. It offers economic news, insightful tweets, events worth visiting and opportunity outreach. It also provides more insight in the business community in Romania: it maps where Dutch companies are located in Romania and gives hands-on tips for doing business with Romanian people. By creating a personal profile, the user can select the features that use push notification on their mobile device. Linking to social media accounts allows quick sharing and iCal support puts events straight into the native calendar.
The second version of the app, called “NL TRADEMATE”, offers many more features than the first version and offers any embassy control over its own information. Users can select which embassies to follow. Available for iOS and Android from January 2015.
Feeding the app
Feeding the App with content is crucial for its success. The process of feeding the app is very user friendly. A web platform allows embassy personnel to log in from anywhere and insert information in the designated fields. The initial plan was to feed the app at least twice a week. Dutch embassy in Bucharest: “In practice we insert new information almost daily; feeding is less time consuming and we feel that fresh news has more value for our readers”.