Lookboard is a B2B service that connects buyers–I mean non-consumer professionals with the word Buyer in their job tile– with real suppliers, manufacturers, importers, etc. who have the goods. In this case, we’re talking mostly indoor furnishing and other tchotchkes for bedrooms, kitchens, bathroom, etc. The Lookboard marketplace has some of the trappings of a peer-to-peer service: pictures of the Buyers in non-professional context, follow-followers mechanisms, and the all important ability to Love a product.
If you’re wondering where SkyMall, One Kings Lane, and all those other catalogs that pile up on your nightstand get their merchandise, then you can find a partial answer at Lookboard. Of course, business supply chains have been with us for a long time, predating the Internet by a few thousand years. For consumer stuff, I’ve always pictured that in more modern times Buyers are on the phone making their deals and then consummating transactions through an old-fashioned fax. Maybe an ASCII terminal comes into play.
In any case, Lookboard is moving all this into the social media era. On the site, there are lots of pictures of chairs, floor lamps, rugs, artwork, and other vendor products along with pricing information. In the test account I was given, a Buyer can post a request after spotting an item or blast out product criteria– say, low-priced Hello Kitty mugs–if they haven’t found what they were looking for. It wasn’t quite clear whether Lookboard steps out of the transaction after contact is made–does this mean fax machines may still be used to close the deal?
I’m sure this is a much needed improvement over existing methods and age-old customs. However, I just wonder whether the reason deals were done over phones or at private trade show conference rooms–picture smoke, highball glasses, and half-eaten sandwiches–was not to tip your hand to competitors. That’s not exactly what the social Lookboard seems to be going for.
As they say in retail, does Macy’s tell Gimbel’s?
Photo credit: Wikimedia