Scanning the World for Reliable Suppliers, Panjiva Seeks to Bring Order to a Messy Process

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suppliers’ past shipping statistics, contact information, and graphs of their trends in shipments, customers, and key products. Panjiva doesn’t go any further in terms of connecting users to suppliers or setting up transactions, but allows them to make their own decisions based on the data provided.

“We’re doing the heavy lifting in the back end,” Psota says of how his company makes sense of the data for users.

The Panjiva search also enables users to browse the names of customers who have shipped a particular product. This can be used as a competitive intelligence tool, to figure out which competitors have shipped which products and when. The system also has an alert function that can notify users via e-mail when a competitor has started using the same supplier that they do. This is particularly useful for customers who are dealing with suppliers in nations where intellectual property laws aren’t as stringent as the U.S., and where a common supplier among competitors could potentially put their product information at risk, Psota says

Psota says the founding team initially thought the search tool would be most useful for small and medium operations, but big-time retailers and businesses, like Home Depot and Panjiva’s 10-plus Fortune 500 customers, have adopted the service to manage their fleet of existing suppliers. Its alert system can notify users when a new supplier for a particular part has emerged or if an existing supplier has accrued a red flag. This makes a lot of sense given how immensely complicated global supply chains can be, and how costly it can be for companies who suffer delays. Ask Boeing about how it has tried to keep all its suppliers on schedule to produce its composite-material airplane.

Panjiva’s interface also has a collaborative component, where users across a company can leave notes on a certain profile to indicate to their colleagues if they think that supplier is worthwhile, adding another way for customers to make sense of the vast amount of data the system holds, Psota says.

The 10-person startup offers trial subscriptions to its Web service for as cheap as $99 a month. A typical subscription runs around $4,000 a year for one user, or $10,000 a year for a subscription for an unlimited number of users at a company. “We’re trying to just get a ton of users on the system and make it a no-brainer,” Psota says.

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