ThomasNet.com, which is a free industrial supplier discovery and product-sourcing platform, recently was re-launched to better enable supply chain professionals and engineers to find trusted suppliers and solve their sourcing challenges.

The online directory serves procurement professionals, engineers, plant and facility management and other buyers from corporations, educational institutions, government agencies, the military and small businesses. The platform is home to a database of North American industrial and commercial companies. Its content collection includes information on 700,000 suppliers within a Supplier Discovery application. The online directory has information on 100 million parts, 67,000 product and service categories and 60,000 companies rated in quality and diversity. The platform includes computer-aided design models, news and more.

The site now features Diversity and Certification tools that aid in locating suppliers. GPN reached out to Kristin Carty, Audience Outreach Manager at ThomasNet.com, to learn how local governments can benefit from some of the platform’s features. Here are Kristin Carty’s views. Her photo is below on right.

GPN: What challenges are local and municipal governments facing in supplier diversity?

Kristin Carty: Buyers were spending a significant about of time consulting multiple databases – many that charged for data -- to identify and vet diverse suppliers. To compound that, the databases were not comprehensive in terms of quantity and industry.

GPN: Why did ThomasNet decide to offer supplier diversity in its latest offering? Is the focus based on feedback/surveys of municipal buyers?

KC: Based on external research, and what we learned from buyers we spoke to at shows staged by NIGP, NAEP, and NPI, we knew we could fill a gap in the marketplace by aggregating suppliers of all different ownerships on our free platform.

GPN: How can ThomasNet help municipal and other government buyers meet requirements for supplier diversity?

KC: ThomasNet has a diversity application that allows buyers to select from over 33,000 diverse suppliers across direct and indirect spends.  We provide four tiers of “proof” of certification – downloadable certificates, links to supplier websites, links to notable third party sites, and self-reported information. We also offer free training on the platform. Prospective users can register for the training here.

GPN: What are the top tools within ThomasNet that government buyers can use to develop a diverse list of suppliers?

KC: ThomasNet has embedded RFI functionality that allows buyers to initiate one-to-one or one-to-many RFIs. Additionally, productivity tools help buyers save and shortlist suppliers, and share that information with their colleagues.

GPN: Does ThomasNet have any tools within it that enable local governments to locate cooperative purchasing vehicles for specific commodities? GPN is finding that lean-staffed local purchasing departments are relying more on cooperative purchasing programs to obtain commodities.

KC: We don’t currently have that data fielded and searchable on our product, but it is something we’ve heard as well, and you may see it added in the future. In the meantime, we do encourage suppliers to add this information to their company profiles on ThomasNet.

GPN: Thank you, Kristin Carty, for your views.

Attendees at the upcoming NIGP Forum (NIGP: The Institute for Public Procurement) can learn more about the platform’s features. The show takes place August 1-5 in Kansas City, Mo.

Participants will learn how to use ThomasNet’s Supplier Discovery application to create a targeted list of trusted suppliers and view in-depth profiles which include capabilities, equipment lists, product information, brands carried, demographics, ownership and diversity information. The platform also has information on suppliers’ quality certifications and video plant tours. Also in the online directory: product demonstrations to help in the decision to add suppliers to a buyer’s shortlist.

In the video, Joe Skreczko, Procurement Analyst, talks about the ThomasNet Supplier Discovery platform.

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