Business-to-business trade search and support company Panjiva has launched a new search engine to find global sourcing partners and monitor shipment trends.
The company’s Global Search indexes information from the Web and presents shipment information - from raw materials to a variety of final goods - in an easy-to-use manner that will seem familiar to anyone that’s used a popular search engine with specific function, like trip planning sites Travelocity or Kayak.
Panjiva’s search engine has two main functions for companies: figuring out from whom to buy products and to whom to sell products or services.
“Panjiva got started with an eye toward connecting buyers and sellers that are separated by great distances. Trying to find each other in this day and age shouldn’t be hard for these companies,” Josh Green, Panjiva chief executive officer and co-founder, told American Shipper
. The search engine currently covers goods shipments from 4 million companies and features more than 35 million products so that users can visually verify they’re looking at the right products.
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The goal was to make the process of searching for new source products, sellers, distributors, and even customers a much less time-consuming process. By indexing information across more than 7 million Web pages, the company has defined the search parameters so when you search for “cotton,” relevant products, providers, and shippers pop up.
Information returned about products and companies includes shipment data and volumes, lists of any certifications the companies make public, location, contact information, and Web addresses. Customers can narrow their search results around metrics like volume and geographic location.
“We started with a database based on objection information, beginning with shipping data,” Green said. The engine’s shipping information comes from organizing U.S. Customs and Census data, along with more than a dozen other objective data sources. Panjiva took this data, formatted and organized it, and decided to incorporate pictures and other information from the Web.
Previously, Green said, customers would use Panjiva to select partner shortlists and then head to the Web to find out how to contact those companies and to search for product images, but now Panjiva aims to generate that shortlist.
“Product photos give you a much more tangible sense of what companies actually make, and this is information that our clients value. Unfortunately for them it was scattered across the Web,” he said. Green said the service is meant to address that disparity by placing all of the needed content and information in a single source.
A goal of the service is to help put those seeking products or services in tough with companies that have the proper corresponding experience. “If you are someone interested in buying patio furniture, Panjiva could tell you who – according to the data – are the folks that have some real experience in doing patio furniture,” Green said.
One of the attractive features about the search engine is the ability to look at results on a map. This helps not only for looking for products in specific countries or around ports and hubs, but it also highlights some of the supply chain issues around certain products.
“We learned that one of the first things people do when they’re trying to figure out where to buy a product from is to get a general sense of where the product is made," Green said. "The map can provide a sense of where these products tend to be clustered.”
Panjiva can also be used to show companies where all of their existing source partners are.
Green said companies like the maps, photos, and other services that are tied in with operations. “If you weren’t in the business of buying yarn but someone assigned you that project, one of the first things you’d need to figure out is where in the world should you be looking. Panjiva answers questions like that, and the map gives you a visual, much more real sense of where to look,” he said.
The end-goal for many of Panjiva’s users to get face-to-face discussions with partners found through the searches. The company facilitates this by giving those decision makers a quick place to look for verified product information, so they no longer have to hunt down companies themselves, one by one on the Web.
Currently, Panjiva is in talks with companies to start integrating the service with their systems, such as ERP, but Green said that hasn’t been requested much because companies and their employees are very familiar with the user interface and prefer the search engine’s current design as a separate piece. - Geoff Whiting