Business-to-business daily deals site targets SMB buyers

RapidBuyr specializes in goods and services for small businesses. Focused on 9 major cities today, it plans to offer regional deals for more than 40 markets by the end of 2011.

E-commerce sites offering special deals on this or that product are all the rage, especially in this era of cost-cutting and discount-buying. One Web resource I consulted as I was thinking about this article lists more than 100 different sites including the highly hyped, site that started it all, Groupon.

So what makes RapidBuyr different from the rest? For starters, the site is focused on business-to-business transactions that have been curated specifically for small and midsize businesses. As with the other deal sites with which you might be familiar, deals are over when either the product is gone or the offer period has expired.

The twin brothers who cofounded the site, Tom and Darr Aley, have a background in media (including ties to the original company behind the ZDNet news network you are visiting today). They said the site can help SMBs find discounts for everything from office furniture to IT equipment to digital subscriptions for software as a service offerings. The focus is on goods and services that a business would consumer, rather than items for personal consumption.

Tom Aley, president and CEO of RapidBuyr, said with more than 120,000 active subscribers the site can act as a "buyer's cooperative" for businesses that are offering deals on the site. The start-up conducts ongoing buyer surveys to keep a pulse on the sorts of products that SMBs would like to source, which directly impacts the deals that RapidBuyr negotiates with its deal partners. (Tom's brother Darr, is the chief marketing officer.) The company makes its headquarters in Boston.

To surface any of the deals, you need to cough up your email address and a zip code (so that locally focused deals can be served up appropriately). When I peeked at the site as I was writing this article, you could buy a Samsung notebook for a discount of about 17 percent or a Lexmark multifunction printer for a reduction of almost 50 percent. The site features both national deals and regional deals that, over time, will allow local business to leverage the RadidBuyr site to offer their own services or products. According to the company, the typical discount range is 30 percent to 80 percent.

What might a regional deal include? For example, a Web design firm could offer work to businesses in a specific regional area. (Presumably served up according to that zip code you are asked to submit when you sign up.) Hotel deals are another popular service, Tom Aley said.

Right now, the cities covered by RapidBuyr for regional offers are Boston, Cincinnati, Houston, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Portland, Seattle, St. Louis and Tampa. The company is targeted 40 markets by the end of 2011.


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