03 January 2002 | Robin Parker
A supply chain specialist offering consortium-style buying for the public sector is hoping to extend its services to private organisations with a free e-procurement system.
E-procurement 4 Free (EP4Free) offers access to a customised catalogue of 30,000 items from nearly 600 suppliers.
EP4Free, which is based on an enterprise resource planning system from solutions provider Geac and a Pindar catalogue management solution, links online orders to accounts systems to raise purchase orders and schedule payment.
Mark Barnett, supply chain director of EP4Free, said that more than 30 years' experience in public-sector procurement has put it in a stronger position than most e-marketplaces to help organisations maximise its buying power.
"Our reputation lies in the public sector, but then we haven't marketed ourselves to the private sector to date," he said.
"There's no barrier to entry and purchasers can use it as little or as much as they like. Price is a key factor, but good supply chain management is far more important - we provide built-in procurement knowledge."
Cornwall County Council and Bristol City council have both undertaken trials during the past year, and are about to roll it out with suppliers outside of EP4Free.