E-procurement (electronic procurement) refers to the purchase and sale of supplies, goods and services through the internet or other information and networking systems.
An e-marketplace is the name given to a web based system through which e-procurement can take place. E-marketplaces facilitate electronic trade between one or more buying organisations and several supplier organisations. They can be used to select and then order goods from a supplier, track the status of orders and the receipt of goods, and some e-marketplaces include systems for invoicing and payment.
As part of the University Modernisation Fund, HEFCE have set up a shared services pilot scheme through which funding is available to implement or further develop e-marketplaces in higher education institutions. As outlined in the HEFCE circular letter 16/2010. E-market places deliver significant process and contract efficiencies for higher education institutions. Contract efficiencies are delivered because e-marketplaces concentrate expenditure on institutional contracts thereby ensuring best price is achieved and electronic invoicing capabilities in some e-marketplaces will benefit institutional finance departments.
HEFCE has identified the following benefits of e-marketplaces:
saving time on routine administration and product selection of purchases while still having informed choice
instant access by every institutional user to the HEI's agreed contracts
robust audit trails, ensuring compliance with the HEI's financial regulations and the requirements of HM Revenue and Customs
all purchases are made in the same way, so users only have to learn one system
quotations may be requested electronically
products from contract suppliers may be compared and contrasted simultaneously, on a single screen
looking at 'shopping baskets' of commonly purchased products from contracted suppliers allows quick and easy comparison of like for-like, which may enable significant savings to be made
imposing more discipline on purchasers may help to reduce maverick spending.