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Arkansas Procurement Technical Assistance CenterPhone: 501-671-2390Email: PTAC@uada.edu
by Arkansas Procurement Technical Assistance Center - May 3, 2021
In the world of brick-and-mortar stores, location plays a significant role in the
success or failure of a business. But what about government contracting, where most
business transactions take place online? Is location still important? You bet your
Benjamins it is! However, in government procurement, the adage "location, location,
location" refers not to your business address but to where you sell your products
and services online.
Many business owners don't realize that solicitations published on beta.sam.gov (soon
to be sam.gov) represent only a small fraction of government purchases. Hence, if
you want to get your goods and services in front of government buyers, you must understand
their preferred way of shopping.
Here are a few examples of stores that government buyers frequent. We will use fictitious
names for each store, but the markets are real. The SAM Store (beta.sam.gov - soon to be sam.gov): While this is the first market you'll likely get involved in, it's not the first place
where government buyers look to shop. They often go here as a last resort when the
products and services they seek to procure are not available at their go-to markets
or when they solicit competition for large contract vehicles.
The GSA Store: The GSA store refers to GSA's Federal Supply Schedules. Here, the General Services
Administration brings together vendors (after an intense vetting process) in one convenient
location and negotiates prices on behalf of buyers across the federal government.
The GSA store is like going to the "virtual mall" for government buyers. By policy,
shopping at the GSA store often takes precedence over shopping at the SAM store for
many products and services. You can visit this shop yourself to see the assortment
of products and services offered for sale in this marketplace.
The Agency Store: The agency store is the first place buyers typically look when they need a product
or service to get their job done. This marketplace includes existing agency-specific
contract vehicles and inventory held within agency-owned warehouses and supply departments.
For example, when the DoD buys to replenish stock, the bulk of their buying activity
goes through The DLA Internet Bid Board System.
These are just a few of the places where government buyers "go to market." Other markets
include but are not limited to stores like Unison Global's Reverse Auction Marketplace, NASA's SEWP marketplace, and Fedconnect.net. Additionally, large e-commerce platforms like Amazon are increasingly becoming "go-to"
marketplaces for virtual buying activity. More on this in the recommended reading
The bottom line is this. Beta.sam.gov is just one place where government buyers go
shopping. While it's the first market you should engage in, it may not be the only
(or even the best) market for the types of products and services you offer. If you
want to get your products and services in front of your target customers, do your
homework and figure out where you should "set up shop" in the online world of government
procurement to get the most traffic from government buyers.