Improved global connectivity and network speeds have greatly increased the volume of business conducted via the Internet. This includes supply chain purchases as both buyers and sellers embrace electronic procurement, or e-procurement. E-procurement is shown to increase productivity and transparency while reducing costs.
E-procurement is the process of buying and selling supplies and services over the Internet. It differs from e-commerce in that it makes use of a supplier’s closed system typically available only to registered users.
When implemented properly, e-procurement opens the lines of communication between a company and a supplier by creating a direct link and facilitating interactions such as bids, purchase orders and emails.
E-procurement often offers substantial benefits to the purchasing organization, such as:
Government agencies were among the first organizations to implement e-procurement, which offers a quick ramp-up, along with benefits such as spend savings, a one-stop, seamless system and transparency in the purchasing of goods and services.
E-procurement makes every detail of government purchasing, contracts and vendor relationships available to the public such as:
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North Carolina uses e-procurement to aggregate purchases among agencies and negotiate better pricing. Its e-procurement website gives suppliers statewide equal access to government bid opportunities. Users have easy access to all state contracts, pre-authorized contract catalogs, electronic response to pricing requests and a more streamlined requisition process.
The state of Virginia’s e-procurement web portal offers procurement professionals and suppliers a streamlined, step-by-step process to conduct business with the state. An automated ticker continuously updates the number of orders and dollars spent, along with the agencies, localities and vendors involved. The site includes nearly 1,000 approved vendor catalogs, as well.
The state’s e-procurement process is available for local governments, schools and other public bodies. The site has a list of future procurements planned by state agencies and colleges.
A number of developers offer e-procurement software products designed to help companies improve productivity and reduce costs. Features vary among providers, but most include inventory tracking, supplier management, order fulfillment and document management.
In addition to general e-procurement software, there are software products tailored to retail, 3PL and warehouse management.
As the global economy recovers from the recession, wholesale and retail industries are seeing an uptick in business – and procurement professionals are in demand. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects growth of 7% for wholesale and retail buyers through 2022. Prospective candidates with bachelor’s degrees and certifications are likely to have the best prospects for landing procurement jobs, the BLS said.