Import/export information – how competitive intelligence can help

Having an understanding of the competition’s product pipeline is essential intelligence. If you can find out what they’re importing, this gives you a great insight into both their new products and timescales. It’s also helpful to know which manufacturers they are using – do you have manufacturers in common?

An obvious starting place is the US Customs website. The information is free; however it’s not easy to trawl through this site and it’s worth buying intelligence from one of the websites set up for this purpose. We’ve used several: they provide similar information but present it with different emphasis on certain areas, so it’s helpful to have a look through a few. Finding a search function that you like is also a good idea, as you’re going to be using it a lot...

We have put together a comprehensive guide to online tools for DIY intelligence research. Here is a closer look at some of the customs data websites we use for looking into import/export activity.


Import Genius

This US-based website has a comprehensive list of shipping manifests. This reveals suppliers, customers, and also shows trends. Their mapping application is a great way of looking into trading partners; and their email alert service helps you stay in touch with what’s happening.



PIERS is a branch of IHS, who offer business information and analysis. PIERS specifically provides intelligence on global trade activity, collecting over 17 million bills of landing that have been filed with US Customs. You can access import and exports for 14 international markets, and trade stats for over 80 countries – that’s a lot of potential intelligence.



Great insights from Datamyne’s international trade website. You can get the details of each transaction, giving you intelligence about manufacturers, the logistics used by your competitors, and information about trade trends. There’s a great search and drilling down function.



A good global trade analysis website aimed at making it easy to find, save, and share international trade data. You can create and save a shortlist of companies (both buyers and manufacturers), and receive alerts when any new information that’s relevant to your saved data comes up. You also have access to key people’s contact details from over 1 million companies, helping you follow sales leads.

There are other sites available; however from our experience, we can recommend these four (if you’re willing to pay for the information). Related to this, if you look at the same page on our guide, you’ll see that we also provide a list of supplier directories.

The caveat of course is that your competitors may be hiding information by using proxy names. You can understand why; but it can mean that you’re coming up against a brick wall. If this is the case, please contact us, and we’ll see what we can do.

You can get a decent insight into import/export activity through DIY competitive intelligence; however if you want to take this to the next level, or don’t have time to search through all the data, please get in touch with Aqute. We’ve helped many organizations track their competitors’ import/export activity, gaining them invaluable supplier and product intelligence.