Is Searching Online the Best Means of Sourcing Suppliers?



According to a survey of over 500 Procurement professionals [1], one of the biggest supplier-related issues that Procurement professionals face is actually finding new innovative suppliers.

When sourcing, you have many options: You could go to a major player such as Accenture who will do all the hard work for you, but then this may not be financially feasible for companies who don’t have the budget. You could also sign up for an E-sourcing solution, accessing a list of suppliers that have to pay to be there. You also have to train your employees to use this Software.

Or you can go it alone and jump into the world of online search.


Google, Bing and the other ones.

Google have more or less a noose around the online search market. Yes, there are other players out there, but apart from Bing and Yahoo can you name another one? Most people don’t seem to have a problem with Google’s near monopoly, they just want to type in their search query and get their answers instantaneously. Fair enough, but there’s deeper secrets to the world of online search that many don’t realise which directly affect what you see in those results.


The Menagerie of animals and…. RankBrain?

Ever heard of “Penguin”, “Pigeon”, “Panda” or “RankBrain”? If you have a good SEO person on your team then it is likely you have. But for those that don’t, these are the algorithms that Google put out to refine their search criteria and these change regularly (A great article from Moz detailing the changes can be found here: These algorithms have a massive effect on search rankings for suppliers and directly affect what you see in your results. If you’re not up-do-date with these, then you’re likely to drop in the search rankings.

What this means for you as a purchaser is that the best supplier fit for your needs may be hidden on page 11 of Google’s search results. This may be due to them either not updating their SEO, or not having the resources to work on SEO. So in effect, both of you miss out on connecting.


Is it “Free” really?

Sourcing companies via an online search also takes a lot time and effort (this is also one of the issues noted in the survey we quoted at the start). The time used for this could be utilised elsewhere on other tasks. When searching, would you actually reach page 11, or would you just stick with the suppliers on pages 1-3 to save time?

So you have your search results, great! You now have the long job of sifting through each of these potential suppliers’ websites for the information that you want. Websites vary in content and style and it can be a very tedious job trying to find the information you are looking for. After you find a possible supplier’s information you see that the they want your email address to download their catalogue or brochure.


Jumping Through Hoops and Opening Locked Gates

We briefly mentioned Gated Content in our last blog and frankly we’re not fans of it here at Koble. We understand that some Sales/Marketing teams feel they need it, so they can report how many email leads they get from content marketing. But how many of you use made-up or unattended email addresses to get access? That’s if you even bother entering your details.

Finding a platform that congregates all potential suppliers in one place, using the criteria you are searching for would be an ideal option. This saves you time and there’s also a level playing field where all suppliers are listed equally with no SEO algorithms judging who is the best fit. Being able to browse this content anonymously with no opportunity for unsolicited communication is also a plus point.


In short, sourcing via online search isn’t necessarily the optimal way to find suppliers, but for some it is seen as the only way. Trying to find the right supplier this way could mean you’re missing out on the best fit due to Search Engine algorithm changes. When you do get the list of potential suppliers, you still have to use time you don’t necessarily have searching for the correct information, only to find that it is gated content. Another issue of using online search to source is that it is very time-consuming. Finding a platform that could do all this for you is an ideal option.


Post by: Koble