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Top 10 Features of Globalspec, Good & Bad (Online Industrial Supplier Listings Part II)

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Globalspec is probably the most popular of all the industrial supplier listings for engineers and designers.  They boast 5 Million registered users, including engineers, purchasing agents, technicians, etc.  They have a huge supplier database, and are branded as the Engineering Search Engine.  Most other sites cater specifically to purchasing departments, although Globalspec’s offerings don’t differ much from the norm.

Globalspec Screenshot of Homepage

Highlights for Engineers and Designers

The Good

  1. Globalspec has one of the largest supplier databases on the web, along with Thomasnet and Macrae’s Blue Book, and is one of the easiest supplier listing sites to navigate.
  2. Globalspec maintains one of the largest engineering forums on the web.  There’s an active community of engineers helping each other with simple to very technical problems.
  3. Users can create a highly customizable home page, much like Google’s or Yahoo’s homeages where you can embed widgets and move them around. Globalspec can be used as your main portal to the internet at work.
  4. Bold companies in search results are paying customers and there is generally a lot of good info about their products and services.
  5. A new offering is a private area for users to manage projects and suppliers.  It’s a simple interface, reminiscent of a PC file system, that let’s you track project details, suppliers you are working with, and any associated research or notes.
  6. Newsletters, product alerts, & product announcements are constant and very detailed.  There are dozens to choose from.

The Bad

  1. Niche Categories? – Categories are well organized, but generally aren’t niche enough, leaving you with hundreds or thousands of companies to choose from in each sub category.  Other sites like ThomasNet maintain more sub categories and make it easier to select companies to source from.  Major companies that you already know about typically dominate the top of result pages.
  2. The Engineering Search Engine is different but not noticeably better or more relevant than Google for general search.  Globalspec does offer very specific search engines for material properties, patents, engineering standards, etc.
  3. Search by Specs or Part Numbers – Users have a limited ability to search for parts and components by spec or part number, but only paying suppliers can add these detailed listings (and even that is severely limited by cost and time).  This is great if you can buy from 1 of the 10 or so companies in any given category that is paying to list their products.  Otherwise, this is limiting.  Surprisingly, I’ve never found this useful as an engineer.
  4. Privacy Concerns – Engineers and Buyers are required to register in quite a bit of detail to view company listings.  Clear in their privacy policy, but rarely known by users, is that every time you click on a company that is paying for an account with Globalspec, that company receives a detailed report including your name, contact information, company and what you’ve been up to on Globalspec.

If you could add one feature to Globalpec, what would it be?

Category: Industrial Supplier Listings, Online Resources, Technical Search

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