While there are many public sources of competitive and competitor intelligence
available, from corporate filings, to patent applications, and even corporate blogs, few can match the actionable intelligence that U.S. Customs data provides. With the economy continuing to struggle, many of our subscribers tell us that now is the time to invest in knowing more, not only about their competitors, but also their suppliers.
I contend that you should always be aware of what your competition is up to, but I understand why many competitive and market intelligence professionals are seeing a surge in information gathering activities. When every bit of market share means more than ever, being able to predict what your competitors’ strategies are before they make any visible moves is invaluable. Taking the U.S. Customs data into an executive’s office and showing the evidence that a competitor is currently prototyping a new product or testing a new supplier is one of the times that many CI practitioners dream about. Think about it, this is one of the few scenarios where a solid ROI can be applied (i.e. if we act now we can defend or gain 10% market share).
Take this for an example, about a year ago, one of Zepol’s trainers was showing TradeIQ
to a group of managers at a Fortune 500 company. They asked to do a search for one of their competitor's shipments and within seconds TradeIQ
was showing their rival's Bills of Lading for the last month. As our trainer flipped through the Bills of Lading online, one of the managers suddently asked her to stop, on the screen was a shipment for a product that was not on store shelves. They were able to identify that the competitor was about to launch a new product and they quickly sped their response to the market, securing invaluable points of market share.
I know this example is pretty incredible, but we hear about situations like this on a weekly basis from our customers. Most involve users doing in-depth analysis for which they need advanced tools like TradeIQ
to do. A lot of competitive intelligence is down in the trenches work, but some of the smartest companies in the world are applying unique data sets like U.S. Customs data to reduce much of the leg work. We wrote a case study
that talks further about how our data can be used to develop and report on U.S. imports for competitive intelligence uses
and it is worth a read if you need to know more about your competition's supply chain (who doesn’t?).