05 July 2007 | Antony Barton
Most purchasers think eBay and similar websites are a viable way to buy goods.
In response to the latest SM
poll of 100 buyers, 17 per cent said they had sourced goods in this way and 61 per cent said they were not against the idea. The idea was, however, unthinkable to 22 per cent.
Those in favour praised the speed of the service, from selection to delivery, and the diversity of products. One respondent added eBay had a far better market search capability than many other applications.
Tim Owen, managing director of consultancy PPL Group, said he sourced small IT requirements for clients from eBay when they had not been available elsewhere. He says it provides access to a supply market that "may not fully understand the value of 'some old computer kit', is less commercially aware and can sometimes be a much lower cost option."
Another advantage is that the purchaser can see the exact product they are buying, according to Chris Lawrence, supply chain manager at Atkins Asset Management.
But images are often unreliable, say other respondents. The lack of warranty, limited information about the vendor, absence of pre-qualification criteria and the possibility that the goods are stolen or defective were other negative points.
Martin Toomey, procurement and supply chain specialist at the Northwest Regional Development Agency, said: "The fact that the current perception of buying is that 'it's like doing supermarket shopping' means buying from such auction websites sends completely the wrong message. Colleagues in the profession are constantly ridiculed and this would only add to that image."
Most buyers agree on the need for strict guidelines and an understanding of relevant legislation before employees use such sites. Some said they should check the seller's feedback rating, investigate their trading reputation elsewhere if possible, and even use the effort applied to their advert as an initial indicator of their credibility.