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theBrokerList for commercial real estate professionals

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Founding a much needed tool

Commercial real estate has a small segment of innovators that are pushing for transparency in the industry, some focusing on data, others focusing on listings, and others focusing on connecting brokers. One of the ways theBrokerList founder, Linda Day Harrison is seeking to improve the commercial sector is by streamlining the process of connecting brokers, which anyone who has been in the industry for more than a day knows is easier said than done.

Like various other technologies in the industry, there is “a major dysfunction in databases” of brokers, Harrison tells AGBeat, which is complicated given that brokers traditionally market to each other more than to consumers. During a deal, an agent may need a referral on a commercial real estate professional whose expertise is in Industrial in Chicago, but if you haven’t seen the person that comes to mind in a few years, they may not be at the same firm or even in the same area.

These contacts used to be managed by hand with collections of business cards in Rolodexes, then Excel allowed assistants to monitor “I’ve moved!” emails and update and sort a manual spreadsheet, but this meant thousands of Excel documents across America that were inevitably inaccurate and out of date. Harrison says theBrokerList is the next evolution of this process, as agents opt-in and update their information in one central location (even certification databases are often inaccurate), acting as a compliment to LoopNet, CoStar and LinkedIn – a place to pull everything together.

Insuring quality

What sets theBrokerList apart and is impressive is that they have taken painstaking steps to insure quality, verifying every new member and never scraping other databases. The team tracks down each member by hand to make sure they are where they say they are and do what they say they do so that a fresh residential real estate agent can’t just decide to be called a commercial expert and get featured on the site, as they have never had any listings, nor are they with a reputable commercial broker. This extra step may ruffle some feathers, but we agree it is important to the integrity of their database.

What started out as a WordPress blog experiment has blossomed into a highly demanded tool that could do a great deal of good in the industry by connecting commercial agents and keeping them current and connected.

The American Genius (AG) is news, insights, tools, and inspiration for business owners and professionals. AG condenses information on technology, business, social media, startups, economics and more, so you don’t have to.

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35 Comments

35 Comments

  1. Linda Day Harrison, CPM, CCIM

    January 27, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    Thanks so much to Lani and AGBeat for finding our site and doing this generous interview. We are small and mighty and so proud to be featured here! Again, thanks so very much.
    ~theBrokerList Team

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Target’s plan to beat Amazon involves more openings

(BUSINESS NEWS) Retailers everywhere are feeling the pressure from Amazon. Yet, Target is taking that pressure and producing more stores.

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As the battle of online versus physical retailers continues, Target has decided to combat Amazon in an unfamiliar way. Target plans to open new locations as opposed to online markets. With new and remodeled stores they hope to get customers, new and old, shopping again.

Target representatives have already announced their plan to remodel numerous stores, and they are already expanding it.

They recently added 325 stores to the list and plan to have 1,000 revamped stores by 2020. There is no doubt that Amazon played a part in their initiative.

While other major retailers like Walmart have expanded their online services to stay afloat, Target wants to go back to basics. Why compete with Amazon in the online realm?

The remodels were planned according to the customer feedback.

Adjustments will be made from floor to ceiling – literally. Some plans reveal additions to the grocery section which will now include beer and wine.

In order to cater to customers in a rush, new stores will have separate lines for online orders, a pickup counter and grab and go food.

Target will expand their floor plans to include an additional entrance and curved aisles to highlight new merchandise. There will even be an outdoor section for visitors dragged along on a shopping trip to chill.

A remodeled store in New York was tested and reportedly sales boosted by at least 2%. CEO Brian Cornell is hoping for the same results with all of the newly remodeled stores.

In addition to revamping their current locations, Target is also testing a small-format design. This small store is meant for more highly populated areas.

Specifically, they will be popping up in cities and near college campuses. This is an untapped market for Target, which could bring even more sales in the future.

Target has already opened 55 small-format stores and plan on opening another 120 by late next year.

As for new, large-scale Targets, 32 have popped up around the country this year but there’s always more. Customers can expect to see another 25 in 2018.

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You can now make Amazon returns at Kohl’s

(BUSINESS NEWS) Amazon is teaming up with Kohl’s to give shoppers a few of the brick and mortar conveniences with online shopping.

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With online retailers giving brick-and-mortar stores a run for their money, some brands are choosing to collaborate, rather than compete. Kohl’s has announced that it will team with Amazon to create “Amazon Experience” mini-stores within Kohl’s locations.

The companies are testing the concept with 10 stores in the Los Angeles and Chicago areas. If it goes well, they’ll expand that number to 82.

The Amazon Experience stores will be staffed with Amazon salespeople, but Kohl’s employees will run the Amazon returns counter. Customers can even bring unpackaged items from Amazon, and Kohl’s employees will help them pack and ship it back to Amazon, free of charge.

It seems that Amazon is looking to have more physical presence with customers and to make returns easier, while Kohl’s hopes to downsize their store space and generate revenue by renting to other brands.

Just this month, Kohl’s opened four smaller stores that have 60 percent less footage and 25 percent less inventory than their typical stores. Customers can still access the entire Kohl’s inventory at kiosks that also offer in-store pickup.

It’s clear that Kohl’s isn’t afraid to combine the brick-and-mortar and online experiences, and their collaboration with Amazon is further evidence that the brand is adapting to the digital marketplace.

“This is a great example of how Kohl’s and Amazon are leveraging each other’s strengths — ” said Richard Schepp, Chief Administrative Officer of Kohl’s, “ the power of Kohl’s store portfolio and omnichannel capabilities combined with the power of Amazon’s reach and loyal customer base.”

Industry experts predict that Amazon may find other ways to utilize their physical presence in Kohl’s to better serve customers.

Amazon has been dabbling in the world of fashion, and having mini-stores in Kohl’s could present an opportunity for Amazon customers to try on apparel before they buy, bolstering Amazon’s in-house apparel brands.

Apparel analyst Tiffany Hogan told CNBC “We could potentially see new Amazon lines popping up at Kohl’s.”

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IBM is putting blockchains to work for banks

(BUSINESS NEWS) IBM is putting blockchain tech to work so that they can launch a banking system for international transactions.

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Earlier this year, IBM unveiled its “Blockchain as a Service” based on Hyperledger Fabric, creating a public cloud service for customers to build secure blockchain networks.

Now the tech company announced they’re teaming up with payment company KlickEx Group and blockchain startup Stellar to change up the cross-border payment game.

The team is launching a blockchain-based system for banks, aimed to lower the cost and reduce settlement time for global payments for both businesses and consumers. International transactions typically take days, or even weeks, to complete.

Blockchains could speed things up, minimize errors, and provide more flexibility and transparency to banks. According to IBM, the collaboration “is intended to improve the speed in which banks both clear and settle payment transactions on a single network in near real time.”

In case you forgot what blockchains are, here’s a refresher course. Blockchains are a secure digital ledger of transactions with bits of information stored across multiple nodes in a network.

Since there’s no centralized hub, it’s less vulnerable to hacking.

Any time an action is taken, the ledger updates and that data is available to anyone with access to the blockchain. Additionally, each transaction is secured with digital signatures and encryption, providing transparency and security.

Blockchains can be used to trace and track transactions along every step of the way, providing a handy place to combine all product information besides just financial dealings.

For example, IBM suggested a hypothetical in which their system connects a Samoan farmer with an Indonesian buyer.

In this transaction, they stated, “the blockchain would be used to record the terms of the contract, manage trade documentation, allow the farmer to put up collateral, obtain letters of credit, and finalize transaction terms with immediate payment, conducting global trade with transparency and relative ease.”

Instead of scattered information, blockchains collect all relevant steps in a transaction. Currently, they system is used in twelve currency corridors, including New Zealand and the UK, as well as Australia and the Pacific Islands.

Within the next year, the system is expected to handle 60 percent of the South Pacific’s retail industry’s cross-border payments.

Bridget van Kralingen, Senior VP of IBM Industry Platforms, said in statement, “with the guidance of some of the world’s leading financial institutions, IBM is working to explore new ways to make payment networks more efficient and transparent so that banking can happen in real-time, even in the most remote parts of the world.”

Over a dozen banks are part of the initial pilot program, and plan to expand to Southeast Asia, South America, and other areas by early next year.

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