Social Networking Meets the International Marketplace with VandM 2.0

Vintage and Modern, Inc. , a dynamic online marketplace for antiques, modern furnishings, art and jewelry is revolutionizing the way people shop for vintage pieces with the launch of VandM 2.0. In addition to social networking elements that will encourage dialogue between dealers, buyers and collectors, the newly redesigned site offers the company’s services in over 40 different languages. It will now be possible for an interior designer in New Mexico to easily source ornate wooden statues in Lithuania. With the new technological improvements in place, the design community around the globe will have a greatly expanded resource at their fingertips.

Connecting buyers while empowering dealers is what VandM is all about. As VandM Director of Sales, Chris Sansbury, states, “With this new international and social focus, we are building on the site’s already open and positive approach. VandM is regularly visited by a growing community of designers, collectors, dealers and savvy consumers and these enhancements will allow them to get even more from the market experience. With 2.0 we are creating an interactive environment of like-minded design-lovers that stretches across the globe.”

Expanding Global Reach
The goal of the Internet—particularly with the onset of user-generated content and open source networks—is to share information across all borders. Yet companies continue to be stumped by the language barrier. VandM took a cue from Facebook, whose European growth was in the triple digits after offering different versions of the site in each country’s native language. It realized there was a real opportunity to sell across the globe—but only if the interface took cultural sensitivity into account. Enter: VandM 2.0.

The redesign of the site includes an international component that offers VandM services in over 40 different languages—from Arabic and Bulgarian to Spanish and Vietnamese. Using a mixture of computer-generated technology supplied through google and human interpretation, data is entered in a country’s native tongue and then translated into a user’s language based on the settings they choose. A built-in conversion rate mechanism also offers pricing according to a visitor’s native currency.

This effort to reach out to the international community is the first step in a multi-year initiative to add dealers from across the globe and offer collectors an expanded resource. “Current technology is allowing us to create a global marketplace where design-savvy people can meet and talk with one another, regardless of location or language. It is really like no other market on the internet,” notes Vintage and Modern, Inc. co-founder and media guru Bill Indursky.

Social Networking?
Until recently, social networking and e-commerce have been fairly mutually exclusive. While the latter lacks personality and the human touch, social network sites are still at a loss on how to generate revenue. Looking towards the next logical step in the evolution of the web, VandM is creating a marketplace where people matter.

Similar in look and feel to popular social networking sites, users can upload their photo and enter basic information such as location, schooling and work to create a more social atmosphere. Customers can then request “connections” from other customers or dealers, helping them associate with like-minded people. A messaging function allows users to receive alerts from their favorite designers while shops can interact directly with their customer base.

Although the new site focuses on interaction and openness, VandM still keeps an eye on built-in security and makes every effort to safeguard people’s privacy, be it sellers or buyers. Like other social network sites, users must approve the connection—controlling the amount of access to a user. There is no open forum or “wall” to leave comments, but users can send private messages. Indursky adds. “It is a new form of niche marketing not yet tapped. We believe that in the future, markets with a social component will be the new paradigm. Customers can set comfortable boundaries based on their interests.”

Dealer Support
Another important new aspect of 2.0 is the addition of enhanced statistical analysis for dealers. Dealers will now be able to monitor their ranking in relation to other dealers on the site based on a novel algorithm created by VandM that tracks sales in relation to price, quantity and inquiries. Dealers will not be able to view other dealers’ rankings, but it provides an excellent measuring tool for performance. In addition, they will be able to better understand the customer inquiries generated by the site and gage selling patterns both online and in stores to better track design trends. Sansbury continues, “VandM is truly a partner to the dealers on our site. We are committed to their success. To this end, we are working closely with the dealer community to help them make smart business decisions that will allow them to grow even in these challenging times.”

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