What Is GSA Advantage!®?
The GSA Advantage!® program allows your business to market products and services to federal agents and government agencies. With a General Services Administration (GSA) Schedule Contract, you can open the door to long-term, multi-million dollar business. Currently, around 12,000 contractors sell through GSA, generating approximately $35 million in sales.
For businesses looking to stand out from the crowd and catapult their growth, GSA Advantage! is an attractive opportunity. But are you eligible? Let’s explore all you need to know about the GSA Advantage! program.
What is the GSA?
It was established to streamline acquisition processes for the federal government, ensuring it has consistent access to cost-effective and high-quality products and services to efficiently serve the public. Today, the GSA has developed into the single largest source of procurement for goods and services by the federal government.
Aside from procurement, the GSA also aims to support the core functions of the federal government. In doing so, the GSA helps federal agencies with multiple other areas of business, including finding and building office spaces, property management, disaster relief supplies, and non-tactical transportation for the U.S. military.
While the GSA supports federal government procurement, it also provides a wealth of opportunities for contractors. In particular, it allows GSA-registered contractors to sell and market their products and services to a worldwide government audience.
What is the GSA Advantage! program?
In essence, GSA Advantage! is a large e-commerce store. The GSA runs the online marketplace, offering the federal government and other registered buyers access to millions of products and services from GSA-registered contractors.
With a membership, federal buyers can place orders online, search for specific vendors and suppliers, perform market research, and compare products through features, delivery times, price, warranties, services, and other terms and conditions.
Under GSA Advantage!, government officials can purchase products and services from 12 diverse categories. These include the following:
- Building & Industrial
- Electronics & Technology
- Facilities & Supplies
- Furniture & Furnishing
- Janitorial & Sanitation Supplies
- Law Enforcement, Fire, Security
- Maintenance, Repair & Operations
- Office Equipment
- Office Supplies
- Office Supplies & Equipment
- Scientific & Medical
- Tools, Paint, & Recreational
- Vehicles & Equipment
Each category comprises various sub-categories, including food service equipment, office furniture, flooring, IT hardware, apparel, telecommunications, and even musical instruments. Essentially, GSA Advantage! is a one-stop shop for everything and anything federal entities need. As such, becoming a GSA-approved contractor offers significant benefits for businesses, not only to supply to the government in large quantities but also to receive a recognized status in their industry.
If you’re looking to become a government-registered contractor, comparing prices within your industry is worthwhile to see how well you measure up against key competitors.
Who can purchase from GSA Advantage!?
The approved buyers list extends to various organizations, not just the federal government. For instance, both state and local governments can also purchase products and services through GSA Advantage!. Here’s the list of GSA-approved buyers:
- Federal agencies — Any executive agency, legislative branch, or government-owned corporation, including local, state, and federal.
- Federal departments — Executive departments such as the Department of Defense or the Central Intelligence Agency.
- Nonprofit relief agencies — Voluntary organizations such as the American National Red Cross and other nonprofit voluntary relief agencies and foreign entities.
- Authorized institutions — Certain educational establishments and other institutions, including Howard University, Gallaudet College, and the American Printing House.
- Other federal entities — Other authorized federal agencies, mixed-ownership government corporations, certain nonprofit agencies for the blind or other qualifying individuals with disabilities, as well as the District of Columbia.
- Tribes and tribal organizations — Authorized organizations, including The Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDEAA) and the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act (NAHASDA).
- Governments — Certain worldwide governments, including those of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the United States Virgin Islands.
- Other qualifying organizations — Authorized organizations such as those centered around disaster relief or assistance, the Senate, and the House of Representatives.
What are the benefits of GSA Advantage! for contractors?
For buyers, GSA Advantage! ensures the federal government has access to high-quality products at GSA-approved prices from reputable suppliers. But for government contractors selling their products and services, the benefits are even greater. In particular, a GSA-approved catalog gives your business a significant advantage, helping you to establish a presence within the federal marketplace. Plus, it opens the door to a whole new audience, resulting in more sales and profit for your organization.
Let’s look more closely at some of the top benefits for you as a contractor.
- Streamlined buying and selling process — GSA Advantage! alleviates much of the headaches that come with buying and selling products or services. Think of it like Amazon — you post the product you’re selling, the buyer adds it to their basket, and you send the product via delivery. It’s simple and straightforward for both you and the buyer.
- Access to the largest federal e-commerce platform — GSA Advantage! gives your business access to the largest and most widely used federal e-commerce store, helping you reach a wider audience that intends to buy your products and services in huge quantities.
- Long-term selling partnership — Once an established GSA Schedule Contractor, your contract can last up to 20 years with no need to re-establish or re-apply for your schedule. There’s also no limit on the number of sales you can make or the quantity you sell.
- Business status — Becoming GSA-approved gives your business federal-level status, which is a huge advantage for becoming well-established within your industry. Government officials also prefer to buy from GSA-approved contractors, thanks to them being pre-vetted and offering guaranteed, cost-effective solutions.
- Unique GSA opportunities — Federal governments often post unique opportunities specifically for GSA-approved contractors, allowing you to win new business contracts on a large scale and typically with faster turnaround times.
How do contractors get listed on GSA Advantage!?
You’re probably wondering how to get on GSA Advantage! to sell your products and services. As you’d expect, with it being a federal and government e-commerce store, it’s not as simple as posting an ad, adding a few pictures, and watching your product orders increase. First, you must ensure you actually meet the GSA requirements and that you’re products or services are available to sell on GSA Advantage!. Then, you’ll need to apply for a GSA Schedule Contract and submit a proposal for approval.
What is a GSA Schedule Contract?
GSA Schedule Contracts are basically licenses that allow you to sell to government entities on GSA Advantage! and other selling tools offered by GSA. Once you’ve submitted your application and been approved, you’ll be issued a GSA Schedule Contract.
From this point, you can upload your products and services to GSA Advantage and make them available for purchase. A huge advantage is that you can also include direct links to your website from your ads, which helps you to market your organization as well as your individual products.
How to get a GSA Schedule Contract
To be eligible for a GSA Schedule Contract, you’ll need to first satisfy specific criteria. Businesses must be able to provide or demonstrate the following:
- At least two years’ worth of profit and loss and balance sheet statements
- A minimum of two years in business, unless you’re an IT company eligible for the Springboard Program
- Proof that all products are compliant with the Trade Agreements Act (TAA)
- Proof that all products have been sold before and are commercially available (this must be supported by documented invoicing)
- A satisfactory record of integrity and business ethics
- Compliance with the required or proposed delivery or performance, which can include a project write-up for a special item number from the past two years
- Fair and reasonable pricing for any products and services, including discounts that are equal to or better than your most favored customer (MFC)
- Proof of commercial sales practices in order to monitor the MFC
- A DUNS Number from Dun & Bradstreet to register on SAM.gov
Once you’ve determined eligibility, you’ll need to submit an offer. The approval process is lengthy, often taking between 6-12 months before you receive contractor status. Here’s what to expect:
- Consultation — The GSA offers a free consultation where a representative will review your business’ finances and eligibility and help you register for the schedule.
- Submit proposal — You’ll need to submit a written proposal covering three in-depth sections: administration, technical, and pricing.
- Offer review — A GSA contractor will review your proposal. They may speak to you to discuss concerns, ask questions, and negotiate prices.
- Contract award — If approved, you’ll be given a GSA Schedule Contract, so you can start selling and marketing your products. Your catalog will be published immediately.
Although the GSA Schedule Contract allows you to sell your products to federal entities, it doesn’t guarantee you’ll actually get sales. Even with contractor status, you’ll need to ensure you market your products and services effectively, optimize pricing, and increase your offering as needed to help you stay competitive among the thousands of other sellers.