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Almost a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for masks in the United States has skyrocketed, driven in part by new guidance from public health officials encouraging mask-wearing. Still, many American producers of the coveted N95 surgical masks have been hard-pressed to find buyers, as The New York Times recently reported

The problem can be tied to the absence of an easily-accessible marketplace where mask suppliers and public or private buyers can interact. Early in the pandemic, the Times reports, online marketplaces including Google, Facebook, and Amazon banned the sale of N95 masks to preserve the supply of masks for frontline workers. As a result, the healthcare sector’s demand for more than 3.5 billion N95s annually has overwhelmed established American mask producers like 3M and Honeywell. Together, these producers put out only 120 million masks each month. At the same time, smaller, less-established mask manufacturers in the United States have struggled to make their N95s visible to public sector buyers.

The result is a dangerous shortage of N95s in hospitals nationwide, but the problem runs much deeper than the healthcare sector alone. In many areas of public sector procurement, inefficient outcomes result from imperfect market information and the absence of common marketplaces where public sector buyers and suppliers can interact.

GovShop is addressing these underlying issues by creating a single ecosystem where both sides of the public sector market can access the same information. On GovShop, PPE providers and other suppliers can proactively contribute details on their current supply quantities, minimum order requirements, and certifications. Government buyers, hospital groups, and industry organizations, on the other hand, can easily browse these offerings and filter providers by size, ownership type, location, and more. 

In 2020, for example, GovShop partnered with the National Governors Association and the COVID-19 Joint Acquisition Task Force at the Department of Defense to identify over 8,000 verified PPE suppliers nationwide. By providing a free resource where suppliers can make their products more visible, GovShop gives buyers a holistic view of the market in a standardized format where they can easily compare offerings from traditional suppliers as well as new entrants and smaller producers.

GovShop has already sent more than 2,000 open government solicitations to PPE suppliers in our community. These opportunities span the nation and come from federal, state, and local agencies. With GovShop as their resource, PPE suppliers can focus on what they do best — manufacturing lifesaving resources — while we focus on finding the right opportunities to increase sales. Providers partnering with GovShop identify new business opportunities across the country every day: see what our friends at Aiden Health, ClearVu Medical, and others have to say about us.

If you’re a PPE supplier or buyer, create a free profile or sign up for a demo to learn more about how GovShop makes it easier to navigate public sector procurement. Your free GovShop account unlocks GovShop’s full suite of resources and research into emerging technologies and procurement.

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