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B2B Social Sourcing platform Tradesparq has merged with Shanghai Shuangji IT company, a provider of customs data that tracks import and export shipments from 57 countries.

Tradesparq utilizes social networking search to match volume buyers and manufacturers around the world, providing customized search results for each buyer with products ordered by relationship and shipment history.

It combines social networking tools with a product directory for global trade. The company claims that after merging with Shuanji, they now have 820 million shipment records to match with their community of more than 320,000 international trade-related companies.

“For the last few years, we have built the community and U.S. shipment data to tap into the potential overseas markets. We decided to partner with Shuangji, since they have shipment data from 56 countries around the world as well as direct sales team in China,” Tradesparq co-founder Michael Kleist said.

Michael Kleist and President and Co-founder Brian Hager both hail from Globalsources in Hong Kong, where they found out the value of social network in the shipment industry. “We learned that when buyers look for optimal suppliers, 70% of cases were based on referral from previous buyers,” Hager said. It was when social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and others were quickly growing and gaining users that they decided to leave the company to pursue their own business. Founded in 2011, the company raised a $2 million USD seed round from multiple investors, including angel investors and small stage funds. 

But how does the company get all the shipment history updated to the website? According to Kleist, every company importing into the US is required to input the data into the government system. “In order for anyone to see the data from all companies you need to subscribe to the U.S. government and get the CDs mailed to you. Even after you get the CDs you need a tech team to decode the information and put it back together in a usable format,” he said. In fact, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) automated automated systems electronically support the facilitation of importing and exporting goods.

The website is based on a free-mium model, so a user can access basic information and track one company’s shipments for free. Then premium users pay membership fee for additional features and deeper information about the supplier. Buyers pay mostly for shipment data while suppliers pay for both data as well as to promote their products.

The basic price for supplier enterprises range from $4,500 USD ~ to $16,000 USD per year. “Our target supplier companies are small and medium sized companies,” Hager said. “Currently, we have several thousand paying users, with paying members consisting of 80% of suppliers and 20% of buyers. Our overall community is 30% suppliers, 40% buyers, and 30% companies that are both suppliers and buyers.”

Image Credit: ShutterStock, Tradesparq