Window Shopping: Trying New Suppliers, Discarding Old

Some refer to it as an eye for trends. Others call it experimenting. Certain folks criticize it as a roving eye. When buyers of staffing services do it, it’s called “trying new suppliers.”

Staffing Industry Analysts’ 2013 Buyer Survey revealed that since 2007, the proportion of buyers who are interested in trying new suppliers has increased steadily, reaching 85 percent. This interest infuses every type and size of buyer. Given the numbers, we ask what’s behind the syndrome.

“It’s not as nefarious as it seems,” says Bryan Peña, SIA’s VP of contingent workforce strategies and research. “Buyers are open to new possibilities whether it is a good service offering or price point. This is all the more true with the future of the PPACA and its effect on CW cost being uncertain, buyers are considering all options” he says. And of course, this opens the mix. It allows new suppliers to come into the pool, keeping the environment competitive.

And it’s not as if buyers are swapping the new for the old, maintaining their numbers. Rather, buyers are interested in consolidating their supplier pool as well — 97 percent are interested in doing so now, compared with 75 percent in 2007.  But does eyeing new suppliers make existing vendors in that particular pool nervous?

“It’s part of the deal,” says Ben Thakur, principal of eTeam Inc., a service provider of contingent workforce and full-time hire solutions. “Consolidation notwithstanding, buyers are are looking to create a concise list with new suppliers aligned in servicing structured contingent and full-time hiring programs. You want potential clients to be looking at you as a possible supplier for them,” he says.

Not everyone is so sanguine. Reactions vary and there are those suppliers that claim that this interest does not square with buyers saying they want a close relationship with staffing firms. Buyers and even some suppliers disagree.

What are your thoughts? Comment below.

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