Edinburgh Chamber to launch international trade platform in April
COBCOE, the organisation representing British chambers in mainland Europe for over 40 years, has teamed up with TIAO, a new technology company based in Belgium, to put together the best of both worlds.
COBCOE Connects is a matchmaking platform for businesses anywhere to find opportunities to grow their business in a trusted environment “at the click of a button”.
Chambers of commerce know their members, often over many years. They also have unique insights into their local market place; how it works in practice, what are the key questions every business new to the area needs to ask – and all the answers. So the COBCOE Connects platform is personally moderated at a local level by chamber staff, who can also call on the expertise of their own members – an unparalleled hub of local professional knowledge and support creating a unique trusted environment for new entrants to market.
WHAT DOES COBCOE CONNECTS OFFER?
The platform offers four services which together create a unique trading hub for companies:
- The means to develop and enhance their profile, searching out the right opportunities
- A tailored, automated ‘matchmaking’ service between company members within the COBCOE network
- Facilitated transactions between members that have ‘found’ each other via the platform
- A service platform for strategic partner companies – these may be at COBCOE level, like our founding partners Kompass International, or at the local network level. The offer can include visibility and branding or a more direct service offer for a limited number of selected members to assist their trading experience.
WHAT DIFFERENTIATES COBCOE CONNECTS FROM OTHER ONLINE PLATFORMS?
– Multi-level/ multilateral – The reach and breadth of the network across Europe and beyond with companies locally and internationally, whether for export, accessing supply chain webs across the world, for joint ventures, investments in any market place – business without barriers.
– Membership driven in-depth local knowledge in each local chamber/network, from startups to major corporates – everyone can build a profile and reputation on the platform.
– Moderated – The unique aspect which ensures that the platform is a safe and trusted space in which to do business. Much of the matchmaking online is automated, but there will also, when needed, be personal follow-up by each chamber/network. This personal contact through known networks is a key element which builds trust for all participants.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
- Create a profile and upload opportunities
Each chamber becomes a network on the platform and uploads basic information about its members (company name/description/sector, etc.) Members are then individually invited to activate their membership of the platform (with acceptance of terms and conditions) and build their profile in the platform. This can include as much detail as possible about who they are, what they do, their key products and services as well as the key people running the company.
They can also upload business opportunities – what they are looking for – to offer or state what their needs are. All key words are searchable by others, which increases the opportunity to make the right match.
- Intuitive search to find future business opportunity or partner
The COBCOE Connects search engine helps define every search using key words that match what is written in profiles and opportunities and other search criteria. Members can refine their search (location, sector, name, size of company and other keywords). Based on the information in the member profiles and the opportunities they have posted, other members can find them.
Once they have identified a possible match, members can make direct contact with them via inline messaging directly to the primary contact of their match.
- No dead ends – guaranteed search results
Through COBCOE’s strategic relationship with Kompass International, every member has access to the 4.8 million businesses in 68 countries around the world in the Kompass International Directory.
COBCOE and Kompass work with members to select any or all of these companies, to invite them to join the platform, and participating networks have the opportunity to offer full network membership where relevant. Each member can invite up to 100 companies (five at any one time) to join the platform and develop further contacts.
- Improve results by building trust
Trust is a combination of three elements: delivery, transparency and
Accountability. As TIAO puts this at the heart of the platform, every member can improve their results by building trust through their TIAO score. The TIAO score rewards delivery by how active they are on the platform, transparency by the completeness level of their profile, and accountability by how responsive they are and how many opportunities they upload. The higher the TIAO score, the higher the company ranking in searches.
- Moderation – integrating digital with personal
The role of the chamber/network moderator is a unique element in building trust in the platform.
Each chamber/network has a dedicated moderator. Although most connections in the platform are automated, the role of the moderator is a key differentiating ingredient to:
– Act as a personal point of contact for all chamber members in the platform – this works in two ways – adding value to the membership offer, plus raising the profile of the chamber with new prospects;
– Posting opportunities) and support with match-making and business development opportunities;
– Validate applications for new memberships – maintaining trust in the network and providing opportunities to recruit new members to their own network.
– The moderator has real-time access via a personalised dashboard to what is happening on the site, so can make personal contact where necessary as well as monitor activity and report back to the chamber and its members, promoting success stories.
– A moderators’ community has been created, which meets online fortnightly to develop ideas and share experience nationally and internationally.