Tag Archives: Panjiva

Panjiva Part 4: Under the Hood Explanation of the Normalization Process

In addition to requesting the specifics on third-party data sources to which Panjiva “connects the dots”, i.e. Customs data, I wanted an under-the-hood explanation of their normalization processes.  Frankly, I was dubious of Josh’s claim to have a 70% success rate linking or resolving Manifest records to specific companies.  In response, again courtesy of their “go to” PR lady, Katelyn, they recite the following:

“Panjiva takes great pride in its patent-pending normalization procedure, which was developed by a team of MIT-trained computer scientists. Although the exact details of the algorithm cannot be shared, the fully automated process involves natural language processing, machine learning and clustering technologies. Panjiva first takes shipping-level data for all companies, then combines it with company-specific data and those from Panjiva’s full data set. Together, these paint a more thorough picture of the companies than one particular data source could do alone.

As part of this process, Panjiva keeps entities separate if they are operating at different locations.  This allows the user the option to look at a specific location of a factory or supplier. However, there are also automated and manual mechanisms that can roll these into super profiles to view related entities in aggregate.  Essentially, users can group them depending on how granular – or not – they want to get.

Because Panjiva relies on an algorithm, it is not always perfect and there are some errors due to the roughness of the data. However, the technology  analyzes enough attributes to make decisions that are robust. A few other things to note:

70% of Panjiva records are bound to entities using our proprietary algorithms for identifying when multiple shipping records are actually describing the same company/location entity. The remaining 30% of the records are opted-out, so those are not bound to companies, but these records are available in Panjiva’s Trends interface and via a raw customs search on the platform.

Panjiva does flag companies that are purely shipping companies, as many buyers are not interested in evaluating these companies as trading partners.  This is one of the few manual processes conducted by Panjiva.”

Having engineered similar technologies at CenTradeX, I can tell you that it is not easy.  I will also state, based upon the results set that I evidenced during the Panjiva demo, that they do a rather remarkable job in the normalization process.  From what I have witnessed thus far, no other TI provider, with the possible exception of PIERS, compares.

Changes in the make-up of sourcing “market share” can be viewed as well.

Panjiva Part 3: Connecting the Dots in the World of Global Sourcing

The following list of third-party data sources was graciously provided by Katelyn Henry of Version 2.0 Communications, Panjiva’s PR firm. The reason I requested and now publish this litany of information sources that Panjiva has connected to is because the normalization of the Customs data and “connecting the dots” are two of the most important aspects of transforming data into intelligence. In those regards, Panjiva has done an excellent job.


  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security provides bill of lading information for all shipments that arrive in U.S. ports. www.dhs.gov
  • U.S. Census Bureau provides trade flow statistics. www.census.gov


  • Ekobai.com is the world’s leading online business directory dedicated to responsible and sustainable suppliers globally. www.ekobai.com
  • MADE-BY aims to expand the market for clothing which is manufactured in a sustainable manner by helping fashion brands clean up their production processes. www.made-by.org
  • Social Accountability International (SAI) is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving workplaces and communities by developing and implementing social responsibility standards and assisting brands, retailers and suppliers in meeting labor and human rights objectives.http://www.sa-intl.org/
  • Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production is an independent non-profit organization dedicated to the certification of lawful, humane and ethical manufacturing throughout the world, based on 12 Production Principles focusing on compliance with local laws, workplace regulations, universal workers’ rights, the environment, customs rules and security.www.wrapcompliance.org


  • CUSTOMS Info provides the most comprehensive information on companies and individuals on Denied Party Lists (DPLs) maintained by US Government agencies.www.customsinfo.com
  • EDDI, Inc. is the most extensive database of known and suspected diverters, counterfeiters and their accomplices in the world, incorporating derogatory information on over 30,000 companies in the US and overseas. www.eddi-inc.com


  • D&B has delivered trusted business credit information for over 150 years.  www.dnb.com
  • DP Information Group (DP Info) is Singapore’s leading credit and business information bureau. www.dpgroup.com.sg
  • Experian Business Information Services partners with organizations to establish and strengthen customer relationships, enabling them to mitigate risk and improve profitability.www.experian.com
  • China Export & Credit Insurance Corporation (SINOSURE) With the most active and accurate information nationwide, SINOSURE’s database of Chinese companies contains business information on more than 6.5 million Chinese enterprises, and continues to expand at a rapid pace. www.sinosure.com.cn/sinosure/english/English.html


  • Bureau Veritas is a world leader in conformity assessment and certification services. www.bureauveritas.com
  • TriVista is an independent provider of Supply Chain, Quality and Risk Management services for manufacturers, importers, and exporters of commercial, industrial and consumer products.  www.factoryaudits.com


  • Jigsaw is a leading provider of business information and data services that uniquely leverages user-generated content contributed by its global business-to-business community of 1.2 million members. http://www.jigsaw.com


  • China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) established in 1952 is the largest institution for the promotion of foreign trade in China. www.bizchinanow.com
  • GoodFactories.com is the largest exclusively home furnishing manufacturers directory. www.goodfactories.com
  • Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) was established in 1966 as a statutory organization with a mission to create business opportunities for Hong Kong companies.www.hktdc.com
  • Messe Frankfurt is Germany’s leading trade fair organizer, with 450 million euros in sales and more than 1,700 active employees worldwide. www.messefrankfurt.com
  • Sourcing at MAGIC is the largest and most comprehensive fashion sourcing event in North America, representing over 700 exhibitors from more than 40 countries.www.magiconline.com/sourcing
The next article will look at Panjiva’s processes of normalization the U.S. Customs data.

Panjiva has created a slick utility called “trend-spotting” which uses Trade Statistics to look for significant changes in the market

Panjiva Part 2: A TI Product with a Clever Mix of Art & Engineering

There are three very important aspects of any Trade Intelligence application: Access, Integration and Delivery.  These elements aid users in accessing, understanding and applying the trade information they need, when they need it, to make better, more informed business decisions.

Trade data is obtuse.  Hard to decipher.  Hard to make sense of.  Hard to see value in.

International Trade Data – particularly U.S. Customs Manifest data and U.S. Census statistical data – is not collected to help you, the end-user, source products, gather information on your competitors, or prospect for new clients.  By and large, it is collected by our government as a by-product of their attempts to monitor and control international trade transactions  all for purposes of national security and taxes (tariffs).

Integration: It is the job of your friendly neighborhood TI provider, like Panjiva, to take this rather obtuse data, clean it up, make it presentable and put it together with other data in a way in which you can do something useful.  In that regard, Panjiva has done some rather interesting things both in the areas of normalization (cleaning it up) and in integration or “connecting the dots”.  They interconnect handfuls of third-party databases in ways that provide essential value added additions to the fundamental or primary U.S. Customs Waterborne Import Manifest (BOL) data.

Access and Delivery: In addition to overall smarts, money, a clear business objective and latching onto an important market niche that perfectly matches the inherent strengths that are able to be unearthed from the U.S. Customs data, the technologists at Panjiva, led by co-founder James Psota and lead engineer Timothy Garnett (both mega-tech geeks with MIT Computer Science Masters) have crafted an extraordinary “tight” (excellent, cool, awesome) product.

As an artist /engineer myself, I appreciate beauty and excellence when I encounter it, including exceptionally designed and engineered technology.  An important aspect of well-crafted technology is that the components fit sleekly and efficiently together and contribute to the overall purpose and function for which they were created.  Panjiva’s interface is designed to help U.S. Manufacturers source products overseas.  The multifarious data and programming elements of their application seem to play well together and contribute that purposeful design.

As slick as the interface may be, it still comes back to data though.  In the next two articles we’ll focus in turn on Panjiva’s normalization processes and third-party data sources.

After vetting search results, you can focus on a specific potential supplier

Panjiva Part 1: A TI Platform with a Singular Business Purpose

I was surprised and impressed on many levels walking through the Panjiva Trade Intelligence Platform with founder Josh Green.

I had written an earlier piece about Panjiva a couple months ago entitled “Bridging the Continental Divides Between Buyers and Sellers?” so I knew that the key folks had come from the crème de la crème of academia – Harvard, MIT, Dartmouth- and had been successful apprehending both angel and equity investments.  So I knew they were all smart and well endowed.  Don’t you just hate that!

Word on the streets was generally positive.  A cursory review of their website, promotional material and social media updates leave a good impression.  You can tell they are on the ball and “have their stuff together” as a company.  Notably, Panjiva was/is the only top tier TI provider that focuses on one singular market segment and business application, i.e. sourcing.

PIERS has a handful of products: Prospects & StatsPlus (which they acquired from CenTradeX last year) as well as MyPiers, iPiers, Piers TI and Piers Trade Finance which tend to be geared toward particular market strata.  Prospects, as the name implies, is primarily a prospecting tool.  Datamyne, Zepol and Import Genius sell all-purpose applications, trying the “one size fits all” approach.

Panjiva focuses on sourcing, period.  Their website is designed around telling that story.  Two prominent navigational tabs point prospects to either “For Buyers” (those sourcing) or “For Sellers” (those who want to be sourced).  Their pitch to buyers (importers) is elaborate and convincing.

In accordance with Panjiva’s business objective and market niche in the sourcing world, they have apprehended over a dozen third party data sources that they connect (with various degrees of success) to the daily U.S. Customs data feeds.

I admit, after going through their interface and digging into the details behind the scenes, I have become convinced that Panjiva has- by far and away- the very best trade intelligence product on the market today for certain types of U.S. importers (those who are sourcing products and components being shipped via waterborne transport from factories overseas, i.e. non NAFTA countries).  Obviously, that was their clear and defined business objective and that is what they have accomplished, for which they deserve kudos, and because of which they will most certainly garner increasing market share.

In several subsequent articles, I’ll “go under the hood” to examine the particulars that developed the above perspective.

Sample of Panjiva Search Screen. It all starts with the right question.

Panjiva: Bridging the Continental Divides Between Buyers and Sellers?

Panjiva is one of the new(er) Trade Intelligence Providers that have come on the scene in the last couple years. Founders Josh Green (Harvard Management guy) and James Psota (MIT Tech geek) launched their brainchild in 2009 juiced by angel and venture capital funding from Gerson Lehrman Group and Battery Ventures, respectively.

The company name is a derivative of “Pangaea” – a term referring to when (presumably) all of the world’s continents were joined together as a single super-continent. “The Panjiva team likes to think that we’re bringing the continents—or at least the people on them—closer together.”

Unlike other Trade Intelligence Providers, Panjiva currently focuses on one primary niche: Global Sourcing.  Their “intelligence platform” is designed to help domestic buyers connect with foreign sellers.

Specifically, as stated in their web promotion:

For Buyers:

  • Quickly develop short-lists of potential suppliers.
  • Conduct background checks on potential suppliers.
  • Keep tabs on competitors’ sourcing activities.
  • Keep tabs on existing suppliers.

And for Suppliers:

  • Get bigger customers.
  • Get more customers.

Their packaging looks slick with an intelligently designed web site, good press, and apt use of social media with blog, twitter, promotional video and web marketing. They’ve developed an affiliate program with a couple of impressive partners. Panjiva offers three convenient payment options: by the year for $999, by the month for $99 or by the click for $10 (why not $9.99?).  Perhaps, customers could also buy by the byte?

Word out on the streets is they are a very aggressive company and sometimes come across with a tad bit of arrogance. Heck, why not? They come well armed academically, technologically and financially, and seem to have successfully wiggled their way into a significant market niche within the trade intelligence space.

Waterborne data

Notwithstanding, for all the hoopla, Panjiva just slices and dices the very same data that is being offered by many a Trade Intelligence Provider – the daily DHS/ U.S. Customs Waterborne Import Shipping Manifest (bill of lading) feeds/CDs about which I have written (and will continue to write) many a post on this forum. This data is made publicly available through the freedom of information act by CDP (Customs and Border Protection) for $100 per day via monthly subscription or by special request.

Originally, Panjiva used to augment and enhance the bread-and-butter data received from Customs with additional value-added databases licensed from PIERS such as foreign supplier profiles, shipment/product valuations and waterborne export transactions. That was until the newly installed PIERS management team realized that they were feeding a tiger cub and sporting a voracious appetite at hunt on their turf for the tasty foreign sourcing market segment.

Now, Panjiva must rely upon their (Harvard) brains and (MIT) technology alone to survive within an increasingly predatory environment where there is massive proliferation of competing trade intelligence (?) providers offering search and reporting utilities against the same data for as little as 99 cents a day.