05 August 2004 | Sally Mesner
Asset management company Standard Life is considering more e-auctions after its first attempt saved 20 per cent on stationery and computer consumables.
Chris Kirk, supplier manager for Standard Life, said savings on the annual £1.2 million budget "exceeded" expectations.
"By the time we got to auction we had shaved off £150,000 through process, consolidation and specification reviews and from that point we took 20 per cent savings again," he said.
"We are confident that in the right circumstances reverse auctions can be a powerful."
Kirk said that all of Standard Life's purchasing consultants would identify services and commodities for e-auctions in low-risk areas where a competitive market exists, including travel, consultancy, paper and printed goods, training courses, events, and property and equipment maintenance and operation.
But Charles Robinson, executive director of the Incentive Travel and Meetings Association (ITMA), questioned the value of buying events and conferences with e-auctions.
"We have concerns about this working because of the inability to commoditise creativity in the same way as things like flights, hotel beds and meals," he said.
Robinson said that, despite its reservations, the ITMA would not encourage members to boycott e-auctions until it had learnt more about how they work.
"We are keen to learn more about it. Only when we understand it better will we be able to take a stance on it," he said.
Jennifer Jenkins, managing director of events management agency MCI, said: "While e-auctioning may be a good idea for commodity-based goods and systems, how do you auction creativity and people?"
Rob Allen, chief executive of The Russell Organisation, which plans and designs events, said: "E-auctioning is quantitative rather than qualitative.
"It is possible in some areas of events and conferences. But bidding for a design or a clever idea is going to be difficult."