Online database looks to provide transparency with overseas suppliers

By: 
March 07, 2012

An online resource aims to simplify the somewhat grueling process of doing business across borders.  

Panjiva is an online resource for global trade professionals to gain knowledge about suppliers and manufacturers from around the world. The platform features information on more than 1.5 million companies across 190 countries. It claims to be the first and only online information source designed to provide complete transparency into overseas suppliers.

Traditionally, supply chain and global production professionals are responsible on their own for finding the right factories and negotiating costs for global imports to the U.S. In essence, according to Panjiva, the professionals have been "flying blind."

"Finding and qualifying suppliers can be pretty difficult to do online," Emily Baillieul, director of marketing for Panjiva, told PlasticsToday. "The goal of this is to make it simpler and provide a secure experience without having to spend as much time and money."

Panjiva's information is gathered from U.S. Customs databases, along with other data sources. The company developed patent-pending algorithms that enable it to organize customs data, extract relevant information from this data, combine this data with a wide variety of other data sets, identify patterns in the combined data sets, and present data-driven insights on the site.

Buyers can use the Panjiva platform to develop short-lists of potential suppliers, conduct background checks, keep tabs on competitors' sourcing activities, along with track existing suppliers.

Baillieul said users can get very specific with searches.

"For example, if you search for some type of plastic part, you will get detailed information, such as if the company actually has those in stock, shipment statistics, and a breakdown of how much business they are actually doing," she said.

The site serves the entire manufacturing industry, and Baillieul said packaging is one of the site's largest segments.

On the flip side, suppliers can use the platform to identify potential customers for its products and reach sourcing professionals at various companies.

By collecting market data from suppliers, Panjiva is also able to provide details of trends within sectors. In 2011, Panjiva's clients bought merchandise worth more than $200 billion.

The site does offer some of its information for free, and membership varies in cost.

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