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Finding Diverse Suppliers in a Down Economy

Diverse supplier certifications are down this year. How can you find new diverse suppliers to meet your needs and grow your spend?

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As supply chain disruptions continue, the economy struggles, and diversity certifications lapse, anticipating and resolving supply chain obstacles has become more critical than ever.  New diverse suppliers can be a solution for companies seeking to fill supply chain gaps or and grow their diverse spend.  But how can you find them?

But with so much of our “business as usual” disrupted, many supplier diversity professionals are wondering how to find diverse suppliers during these difficult times. The usual routes of discovery—primarily industry conferences and business expos—are still ramping up and travel budgets have been cut.  To make matters worse, more diverse suppliers are letting their certification lapse and fewer are getting new certifications.  When we compared certification data from the first half of 2022 vs. 2023 we saw 114K fewer new certifications this year vs. last year.  In fact, we also saw almost twice as many certifications expire this year, from 34K certifications expiring last year to over 59K this year!

With fewer diverse suppliers out there and traditional methods challenged by the economy, it’s time to look for alternatives. Fortunately, supplier diversity professionals are used to finding and pitching “alternative” solutions that add value to the bottom line.

Look in your own data

Before you start looking for growth with new suppliers outside your organization, take stock internally first.  Make sure you know which of your current suppliers are diverse and monitor their certifications to make sure they don’t lapse when you need them most.  Tell your suppliers know how important their certifications are to your program and even consider “scholarships” for high value partners.

Beyond current diverse suppliers, look for past ones in your data as well.  Contracts may have ended, or that specific business unit may not have needed their services any more.  But this is a proven supplier and with a bit more development, they may be a great partner to grow with now. 

If your needs are growing and your current diverse supplier can’t meet you full needs, look to add a second or consider them for Tier 2.  While many diverse-owned businesses are often small businesses and therefore may not have the capacity to be a Tier 1 supplier, one or more could fill in for a Tier 2 supplier that is unable to meet your needs. Or you could add a second supplier to meet increased demand or reduce risk.

Look at matchmaking events in a new way

Industry conferences and business expos were casualties of the pandemic.  And while most events have come back and are meeting in person, most organizations have cut travel budgets.  These events have long been a vital part of the discovery and relationship building process between companies and diverse suppliers. 

Networking opportunities, matchmaking and one-on-one meetings, pitch competitions, the expo hall—they are all opportunities for diverse business owners and large companies to come together in one location and pursue possible partnerships.

But leading organizations don’t wait for the event itself.  Long before any matchmaking event, savvy supplier diversity leaders meet with their business partners to identify what type of diverse suppliers they need in the coming year or more.  They identify specific suppliers who can meet those needs and set up appointments at the networking events.  This gives both parties a preview for the event that makes it worthwhile to travel and use budget to attend.  Now the matchmaking event is used to close a new partnership that will benefit both the company and supplier, making it a valuable activity for both.

Leverage big 3rd party data sources

With fewer certified diverse suppliers out there, you need access to an even bigger data set to make sure you can find the suppliers you need.  You need a resource that draws from multiple databases and is updated regularly and automatically, with robust search capabilities for finding diverse suppliers and ensuring up to date certifications.

Our Supplier Explorer tool can do that.

Supplier.io built Supplier Explorer with supplier diversity professionals in mind. Instead of spending hours combing through spreadsheets, multiple websites, and cluttered inboxes, Supplier Explorer has almost 4 million diverse suppliers holding over 5 million certifications globally.  It aggregates data from more than 400 trusted sources, giving you direct access to an accurate, up-to-date master database of millions of small and diverse suppliers, verified through third-party certification entities for MBE, WBE, LGBTQ, DOBE, Small Business Administration (SBA), 8(a), HUBZone, Veteran Business Enterprise (VBE), Service-Disabled Veteran (SDVOB), and others.

Supplier Explorer is already populated with detailed profiles for millions of diverse suppliers, including information on their diversity status, certifications, products and service offerings, contacts, and more.

You can search by North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) and Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes, narrow the results by geographic location, sort by size or revenue—whatever criteria are relevant to you. After entering your preferred search terms, the results returned by our comprehensive master database clearly display information such as company name and location, as well as certifications at a glance as verified through third-party certification entities. View the supplier profile for additional information, such as annual revenue, number of employees, and data universal numbering system (DUNS) number, in order to help you determine whether the supplier is a good potential business partner.

When your search is complete, quickly and easily share the information you’ve gathered about potential suppliers with other users within your organization using the export functionality or by printing a report. Your team can make confident, informed decisions about inviting these suppliers to bid knowing that the information is accurate and up to date. Contact information and ownership/certification status provided through Supplier Explorer promotes easier and more efficient supplier communication for when you decide to reach out to a potential supplier.

Supplier Explorer is browser based, meaning you do not need to purchase additional hardware in order to utilize the tool. Anyone within your organization can access our master database, search for potential suppliers, and generate reports through their standard browser in minutes, reducing administrative workload at this crucial time.

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