Add buying business software to the list of things that could be reinvented through the connecting virtues of online communities.
Looking to make the connection is Reachify, which acts something like a LinkedIn for fashion executives looking to navigate the $620 billion enterprise software market and is being used by brands such as J. Crew and Vineyard Vines.
The platform helps connect companies with software providers for everything from accounting and sourcing to radio-frequency identification and beacon technology.
Cindy Lincks, former vice president of e-commerce at Brooks Brothers, founded the company in May 2015 and quietly started rolling out the service in July, opening up what has always been an opaque process.
“When you bring in transparency, you answer questions more efficiently, you begin to get a user-generated social community together,” Lincks said.
Retailers might be used to playing their cards close to the vest, but there are benefits to sharing.
“The majority of people understand that if you give a little, you get a lot,” she said.
Reachify, which is backed by retail technology venture capital fund Beanstalk Ventures, provides a platform that’s free to retailers and can help them find software to solve specific problems that is compatible with a company’s existing systems.
“We’re in an age now where technology is a critical foundation layer for retailers and for businesses in general,” said Ken Seiff, managing partner of Beanstalk and founder of Bluefly.
He said there are thousands of software companies serving hundreds of different needs in retail, with neither side knowing quite where to turn.
“There’s no one-stop shop for saying, ‘Here’s my problem, here’s the software I already use and here’s the business I’m in and the type of company I’m on, so tell me what’s the best software solution,’” he said, articulating the problem Reachify’s looking to solve.
And the software companies don’t know how to reach the right retailers. “The vendors themselves have resorted to spamming retailers,” Seiff said.
Reachify has what’s known as a “freemium” business model. It’s always free for retailers, but software vendors can pay to get access to additional features.
“For retailers, we’re creating all kinds of automated tools to help them evaluate technology and prepare presentations for internal meetings and then for vendors, we’re working hard to provide the tools that help them reach the right retailers without creating this spam-like atmosphere,” Seiff said.
And everybody could use a little less spam in their e-mails.