6 October 2008
In this edition of ShipCast, we speak to Stuart May, Director of Product Management at ShipServ. Stuart will be discussing ShipServ Pages and how this delivers significant benefits to both buyers and suppliers across the world.
Click the “Play” button above to hear the Podcast. Here’s a transcript of the interview…
Q: Stuart, welcome. Let’s start off with a real easy question – what is ShipServ Pages?
A: Thanks for inviting me to ShipCast. Put simply, Pages is a free and really easy-to-use website that connects buyers and sellers. Suppliers can market/advertise themselves on the site and buyers can search for the goods and services they need.
You can find it by visiting www.shipserv.com/search or just Google “ShipServ Pages”.
Hopefully in our chat here today I can convince you of 3 things about Pages:
– 1. That Pages is not just another supplier directory
– 2. That Buyers will see a unique tool for sourcing suppliers
– 3. That Suppliers will see a great opportunity to win new business
Q: Sounds like a challenge Stuart. But before we go on, so our listeners can position the size/nature of Pages, roughly how many people are using it/how many suppliers are on the directory?
Well, as of September 2008 we have over 8,000 visitors per week and 22,500 suppliers listed. And these numbers continue to grow every week. Our suppliers are in 7,500 ports all over the world supplying all types of products and parts – from chandlery, provisions, compressors and paint to compressors, main engine spares and reconditioned parts.
Q: OK, so lets focus on the Buyers for now. How can they use the product?
Just go to www.shipserv.com/pages to access the search home page…
Key in the name of the product or service you are looking for…
Click search to display a list of suppliers…
Click on a supplier to view their details…
Hey presto – you see all the information you need.
It really is that simple.
Q: So once a buyer finds a supplier what information do they get to see about that supplier?
As well as basic contact details you can also see what categories of products they supply, which ports they serve, what brands they stock. The supplier can also upload their product catalog or lists as well as any supporting documents or attachments.
All of this content means a buyer can search by:
–Category e.g. “Underwater Inspection” or “Lifeboat Repair”
–Model or part numbers
–Part description e.g. “Fresh Water Generator” or “Pilot Ladder”
–And filter results by country and even specific port
Q: Sounds great, so I imagine Pages is really useful for Buyers in all types of situations?
A: Yes, that’s right. Our users are telling us that Pages has a wide range of uses – from sourcing long term contracts to locating parts at extremely short notice. But more and more we’re hearing its especially good for:
– Sourcing parts for old or obsolete equipment
– Finding general suppliers that serve obscure locations
– Sourcing equipment repair services
Q: Interesting stuff. But so far it doesn’t sound that much different from some of the other directories out there?
A: Maybe, but what sets Pages apart is its link to ShipServ TradeNet – the world leading e-commerce trading platform. Over 3.5m transactions totaling a $1bn in trade flow through TradeNet every year. It contains a huge amount of mine-able data that we can use in Pages to help better connect buyers and sellers.
All other directories are simply online versions of the print model – they’re just printed books put online. Pages is the first to really harness the power of the web – we integrate actual trading relationships into our offering.
Let me describe how it works…
Every day of the year, every hour of the day & every minute in the hour, some kind of transaction is being conducted on TradeNet. We continuously analyze that data, understanding who’s buying what from whom. Respecting commercial privacy at all times, we then we use that information to enrich a supplier’s listing in Pages. The result is something called “TradeRank” and it’s a measure of a supplier’s popularity on TradeNet. Or put more simply, it tells a buyer that not only does a supplier say he can potentially provide a product, he also has a track record of doing so.
Q: Sounds like you’re trying to give a buyer peace of mind when choosing a Supplier?
A: In some respects. Remember we’re still the middle-man here and cannot vouch for any given supplier. But TradeRank was developed in response to customer feedback that told us “Finding a supplier is easy but finding a reputable one is hard.” With TradeRank we’re trying to help buyers with so called trust judgements, with the basic idea that being active on TradeNet is a really good sign.
Q: OK. So a buyer has found an ideal, reputable supplier. What next?
A: Well the final step is making the connection. We provide an easy-to-use Enquiry feature which lets the buyer send specific requests or state their particular need.
Q: Perfect. So what about the Suppliers? What does Pages offer them?
A: Firstly, Pages is a low cost way to promote your company to the maritime community. As mentioned earlier, we have 8,000 visitors a week – all of which are looking for suppliers – there’s no casual browsers coming to Pages.
Secondly, by signing up on Pages, you’re also increasing your exposure on Google.
Q: Google? How come?
A: Well, we invest of lot of effort into what’s known as Search Engine Optimization or SEO. Put simply we make sure your listing on Pages stands a strong chance of coming high up in Google searches. So for example if you’re a Chandler based in Dubai, there’s every chance you’ll come at the top of list when someone searches for “Chandlers Dubai” in Google. In fact, we have many suppliers whose Pages listing comes above their very own website! That’s because with over 22,500 suppliers on Pages our site is more popular than any one supplier’s site. We effectively have more power to be successful on Google.
Q: Wow now that’s impressive. So how do Suppliers get involved?
A: Whilst we do offer an entry-level “Basic” listing, I would always recommend getting a Premium Listing – you’re 5 times more likely to get clicked than a Basic listing, plus you have more opportunities to describe your business and come up in more searches in both Pages and on Google.
Q: Well that sounds straight forward! Any final words?
A: Not really – I think we’ve covered a lot. But if I may, I’d like to revisit my “3 important things” from the beginning. I said:
– 1. Pages is not just another supplier directory
– 2. Buyers will see a unique tool for sourcing suppliers
– 3. Suppliers will see a great opportunity to win new business
So how do you think I’ve done?
Q: I think you’ve done a great job in getting the message across loud and clear! So, on that note, Stuart, thanks for you time and thanks for joining us in this edition of ShipCast.