ThomasNet Launches First Corporate Edition Solution With New Features, Sourcing Tools


ThomasNet has teamed up with Wal-Mart to launch a corporate-specific edition of its free sourcing and supplier discovery platform, The solution offers companies that sell their products through the retailer access to more than 500,000 US firms from which to source parts and products. Spend Matters recently received a demo from Tom Greco, vice president at ThomasNet. Below, we share some of the platform’s features and our takeaways. Procurement organizations can take note, too, as ThomasNet plans to launch a public corporate edition in 2016, which won’t be exclusive to Wal-Mart but open to any company that signs up and is approved.

Demand for US Suppliers

The ThomasNet corporate edition is a response to Wal-Mart’s broader US manufacturing initiative to create domestic jobs. The retailer’s suppliers were reportedly having a hard time finding US companies that could provide components they needed for their products, Tom said. The new ThomasNet corporate solution features a supplier database of more than 500,000 US companies from which Wal-Mart suppliers can source products and parts. Every supplier within the ThomasNet solution for Wal-Mart has a physical US presence.

This doesn’t necessarily mean products from the suppliers in the database are actually made in the US, just that the company has some presence in the country. Tom said, however, that ThomasNet asks suppliers to specify on their profiles within the solution’s database if their products are manufactured in the US. If a buyer is truly concerned with only sourcing US-made goods, it may be up to him or her to find out the true origin of a product. Still, Tom pointed out, what you won’t find in the Wal-Mart corporate edition supplier database are companies based in Europe or Asia, for instance, with zero US presence.


A shot from the new Corporate edition. Courtesy of ThomasNet.


Corporate Edition-Specific Tools

ThomasNet’s free sourcing solution edition has tools for supplier discovery (includes those meeting diversity and quality requirements), sourcing, custom quotes, provides computer-aided design (CAD) models of products and offers industry news. While these tools are also included in the the Wal-Mart-specific corporate edition, it also has some added features users will not find in the free, public edition. These include:

  • Collaboration tools such as the ability to “share” a certain supplier with the rest of your buying organization. If a buyer were to find an ideal supplier – one that provides a specific part and meets geographic and any diversity needs, for instance, the buyer can save that company to reference in the future, share with others in the organization or assign it to a specific, custom shortlist.
  • A specific “View my Suppliers” tool giving buyers additional visibility into the capabilities and products of their suppliers. Here, users can upload their existing suppliers into the ThomasNet platform and the solution will match that supplier list to the ThomasNet database, pulling up additional information on suppliers a buyer may have not seen before. Procurement professionals often say they do not have full visibility into all their existing suppliers can offer, Tom said. Here, buyers are able to view a supplier’s full catalog and perhaps find a new way the company can fill a hole in the supply chain.


A "View My Suppliers" feature, which you can see in the upper left hand side of the screen shot, is exclusive to the new Corporate edition. Image courtesy of ThomasNet.


  • Special RFI services, which includes the ability to send a single RFI to an unlimited number of suppliers. The free edition of ThomasNet limits the number of suppliers to which an RFI can be sent, whereas the corporate edition does not. In addition, ThomasNet’s team will follow up with suppliers to which a user sends a request for information, quote or proposal to solicit a timely response. For instance, Tom said, ThomasNet will inquire if a supplier intends to answer a corporate solution user’s RFI, and if not, ask why. That information will be entered into the ThomasNet system and available to view for buyers. This specific tool, Tom said, is an attempt to address “another big problem that buyers have in the supplier discovery process.” Tom stresses, too, that ThomasNet really means “unlimited” RFIs when they say it. One user on the current corporate edition sent out 70 different RFIs, all of which ThomasNet followed up on. “We are all about connecting the buyer to the seller, Tom said. “We mean it, that’s why we are picking up the phone.”

These tools are expected to be available to those outside the Wal-Mart corporation sometime next year in a more public edition of the platform. For now, the ThomasNet Corporate edition is only open to those working with the retailer. But, it’s easy to see why these features would be attractive to any procurement organization.

First Voice

  1. Bill Kohnen:

    Certainly on their corporate sites companies like Wal Mart and Amazon will tailor search and discovery capability to B2B buyers and will add functionality that will be enough for some companies to consider using that for all their requirements if they can.

    That being said what is described here seems pretty rudimentary – essentially just a searchable database and then if you send a message out someone needs to follow up with a phone call. It is also interesting to hear the comments about the trouble faced by companies sourcing direct materials in the US. Goes to show that direct materials sourcing is still challenging and obviously today’s purchasing solutions/networks do not provide the complete answer.

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