Social Network Connects Websites, Not Just People

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Rhobi’s new Community platform provides social commerce for business websites, enabling their products and services to be searched from all connected websites across the Internet.

social commerce
It's like turning every website in your industry into a proxy sales force for your brand.

Rhobi, a web based service that allows businesses to “engage customers, process orders, and market inventory instantly,” announces the release of their new Community platform for B2B social commerce. This interactive platform connects existing business websites to a larger global market and then enhances them with integrated sales, marketing, order processing, and live communication tools. The goal: market inventory once and make it searchable from thousands of websites all across the Internet.

Rhobi’s platform can be compared to that of a social network for the supply chain, but it didn’t start that way. Last year, the company halted sales of their prior service, the Live Marketplace, after working with over 100 beta test companies. Steve Edwards, COO of Rhobi, explains, “You know, we’ve built a product with great features, but not a great experience for the user.” So they poured all of their effort into rebuilding it from the ground up. “Now, the same way Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn connect people, we connect companies, but for the sole purpose of doing business. To help understand what we mean by that, imagine being able to process an order on LinkedIn... Now imagine if LinkedIn powered your website.” He says.

“Other marketplaces are okay for searching and listing inventory, but they are standalone websites that are isolated from normal business processes and require faxing or emailing [to complete deals]. Our Community platform solves that by providing an end to end solution that combines our marketplace with sales and marketing tools like social CRM; a complete order management system; and communication tools, such as instant messaging and click-2-call phone calls,” says Edwards.

Once a business has joined the Rhobi Community and completed the copy/paste installation, they can list their inventory, post deals, jobs, ideas, and company news, right from their own website. Then the magic happens...

All material is accessible, not only from the website it originated from, but from all websites that are part of the community. Edwards asserts that this type of Web 2.0 technology advancement has the potential to change the way people think about buying and selling parts. “We’ve taken something that was once isolated and expensive, [part locator services], and integrated it to make it affordable and flexible. It’s like turning every website in your industry into a proxy sales force for your brand.”

The community itself is organized by industry, sub industry, and company. Searches are targeted with any level of granularity, ranging from the entire community all the way down to an individual business’s products and services. “A large problem [with other solutions] is that inventory is thrown in one big pile. Valuable time and money is wasted trying to locate what you need and who actually has it,” says Edwards.

Ultimately, the community exists to help fulfill the missions of its members, whether to turn website visitors into customers or to create a better customer experience. Because of this, the decision makers at Rhobi are using feedback from the community to drive the development of the product going forward. Members can post thoughts, feature requests, and issues out to the community, to be directly voted on by other members and acted upon by the development team.

Companies may join the community with unlimited users for a nominal monthly fee. The integrated order processing system, which connects to QuickBooks for AR/AP, has a utility style billing method. Companies only pay for what they use.

For more information about the new Community platform for business, visit Rhobi’s website at rhobi.com.

About Rhobi:

Rhobi is a "Software As A Service" application that runs in the "Cloud" or off premise from the subscriber. It is a highly secure application that allows buyers and sellers of parts and services to manage their inventory online and instantly communicate with other users of the system. The instant communications greatly enhance the speed and accuracy of parts or service transactions. It creates the first "supply chain social network” for business.

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Rodney Burton

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