Most people now know that when you buy a product from XYZ company that there’s a good chance someone else is actually making it. When you pick up that Apple iPhone or MacBook, it actually contains a mish-mash of components from several different OEM and ODM suppliers. Apple can be pretty certain when it chooses its suppliers, but what about small and medium-sized businesses that need to do the same.
The problem with researching suppliers, particularly those in overseas markets, is that there really isn’t all that much information available about them online. They’re not “known” brands the way that Apple or Samsung are known brands. And this is the very need that Tradesparency is trying to address. Let’s dig into today’s review and see what they’re all about.
Reviewing Overseas Suppliers
Before you head out for a night on the town, you might hit up Yelp or Urbanspoon to look for restaurant recommendations. You read the user-submitted reviews to get a sense of what you can expect from that establishment. Tradesparency works in fundamentally the same way, but in the context of suppliers, wholesalers and manufacturers.
The design of the site is remarkably understated and simple. While I appreciate this “no nonsense” approach that is in line with its mission of offering transparency to the trade market, I feel that Tradesparency would at least benefit from having a custom logo or header image for the site.
You will need to sign up for an account if you want to post a review of a supplier that you have used, just like Urbanspoon or Yelp, but you don’t need an account if you’re only browsing through the listings and want to read the reviews.
Searching for Partners
There is a main search bar located in the top-right corner of the site. Alternatively, you can use the “Find Supplier” link on the main page for a little more functionality, like narrowing down your results based on products, country and category.
As an example, here are the search results for the term “iPhone case” on the site. As can be expected, the overwhelming majority of results are locate in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. There are actually several categories and product types beyond the consumer electronics industry, to be sure, but it will take time before Tradesparency becomes quite as robust and well-populated as some other review sites in other niches.
The results page gives you some at-a-glance information, like the company’s name, category and current rating out of ten stars.
Taking a Closer Look
When you click through to the specific page for one particular manufacturer or supplier, you are then greeted with much more information.
The example here is for Fantasy Industrial Investment, which was the first result for “iPhone case” from the search above. As you can see, you get a more detailed map from Google, any available contact information like company website and phone number, the current rating out of 10 stars, the listed categories, and the listed products.
Below that, you’ll find all the user-submitted reviews for that particular wholesaler, manufacturer or supplier. From what I can gather, Tradesparency is still a very young site, so many of the suppliers don’t yet have more than a review or two. And even then, the reviews appear to be incredibly positive. My suspicion is that these suppliers may be stocking up the reviews on their own (I even found one where it said “we” will ship worldwide), but the hope is that the impartiality and number of reviews will improve over time.
Transparency in the Supplier Market
In the days of the omnipresent Internet, we have come to rely on impartial third-party reviews of businesses and products before we make our buying decisions. You’ll read reviews on different digital cameras before deciding on one, so why wouldn’t you do the same if you’re looking for a supplier for your own business?
As it stands, Tradesparency looks like it could have a lot of potential if it is able to attract a large enough audience to really populate the site with lots and lots of quality reviews. That is the only way that it will be able to establish itself as the recognized leader in this space. There are some minor quibbles with design, but the overall idea is a strong one.