GovShop’s tag line, “a single place to search, find and connect with suppliers for the public sector market,” perfectly sums up what GovShop is all about. Created and designed specifically for government procurement researchers, this open access resource is a valuable addition to the supplier search/market research landscape.
GovShop is led by the Public Spend Forum executive team, and their advisors, with goals to: 1) ensure government has the market and supplier data it needs to find the best suppliers, and 2) lower barriers for suppliers so they can deliver their innovative solutions to government (GovShop website).
Public Spend Forum has done a great job providing accompanying documentation on how to use the tool, in addition to information and tips on performing market research specifically for public sector spend, such as Six Tips for Your Best Market Research and Techniques for Conducting Efficient, Effective, Government Research, both by Frank McNally.
When you first land at the GovShop site, you are greeted with a crisply designed blue page with white, easy to read lettering and a large search box. You can do a comprehensive search or you can filter, via a drop-down box to the left of the search box, by supplier name, products/services offerings, or contract vehicles. Below the search bar are three separate ways to browse: 1) by products and services, 2) by contract vehicle, and 3) all suppliers. Selecting the Browse by Products and Services option, you come to a screen allowing you to choose which code you would like to use: PSC, NAICS, PSF Markets, and NIGP. In McNally’s Six Tips article, he describes (directly quoted) the different codes:
NIGP [National Institute for Government Purchasing] codes are primarily used in State and Local governments, and the entire list is commercially available through an annual licensing agreement. Other systems like the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) are used by the public and private sector to classify and measure economic activity in the continent. For market research purposes, each code system can be used to refine keyword searches into more specific lists of qualified government contractors that can best fulfill your customer’s requirements. For instance, the NAICS code system is often used in federal acquisitions to make business size determinations, a key consideration when deciding whether goods and services can be procured through specific socioeconomic set-aside programs. Product Service Codes are useful when conducting strategic market research, as they can help you compare offerings from suppliers who register under those codes. NIGP codes work in a similar way.
When selecting any of the codes, note that you can search the descriptions of categories of that code, producing all the descriptions with the search term highlighted in yellow. This is a quick and easy way to search through the codes, as some of them can have many categories! You then can toggle between the categories to see if the term appears in the other categories/codes descriptions as well.
Sample Search Strategy
For a search for “water purification equipment,” I select the “Browse by Products & Services Offerings” under the search bar. I then select the option for PSC (which is highlighted by default). Typing in “water purification” at the search prompt (magnifying glass) produces several categories containing that term. Hovering over “Water Purification Equipment,” I see there are 507 suppliers that have been tagged against that category.
Clicking on the “Water Purification Equipment” category produces a page with the 507 suppliers listed. Selecting the option to Browse and Filter Suppliers, brings up various filters on the left side of the screen: Size, Government Set-Aside Programs, Ownership, Type, Number of Employees, Annual Revenue, and Country of Origin. Selecting the Ownership filter, Veteran, reduces the list to 63 suppliers. Selecting a supplier from the list takes me to that supplier’s profile, where I then can create and share shortlists of suppliers of interest.
GovShop only includes authorized government contractors. The Contract Vehicles currently available are federal supply schedules. Government-wide acquisition, national cooperatives and contracts, and other contract vehicles are coming soon.
This is a welcome resource, indeed.