Insights & advice

Businesses ramp up their purchasing via e-procurement

E-procurement is gaining acceptance by businesses buyers, but challenges remain for even wider adoption, according to the Amazon Business 2022 State of Business Procurement.

“Today, procurement teams must act as digital transformation evangelists, budget guardians, and work-from-anywhere enablers, while also pushing forward corporate social responsibility (CSR) goals,” the report says. “That’s a tall order for one department also facing significant challenges like global inflation, supply chain disruptions, and increased turnover.”

91% of B2B buyers state a preference for online purchasing over traditional methods like offline distributors, brick-and-mortar stores, phone orders, catalog orders, and sales meetings, the report says.

However, some business buyers still feel some hesitation about fully adopting online procurement. “Because e-procurement is self-service, some buyers fear missing the personalized interactions that are typical of traditional procurement methods,” the report says.  While most buyers are happy to make this trade—favoring speed and efficiency over direct personal interactions—it’s certainly something for buyers to consider based on their business needs.”

More than half of B2B buyers (52%) said insufficient online information about suppliers’ characteristics is why they can’t find suppliers that fit the goals of their business. And 44% cited having trouble finding new suppliers as part of the reason it is difficult to reach sustainability goals.

But challenges remain for companies to upgrade their internal technology systems to get the most out of e-procurement. This includes systems for authorizing purchases and managing digital invoices, the report says. “Business buyers now need to refine their processes, workflows, and digital strategies to take full advantage of e-procurement,” according to the report.

“Organizations should tackle the basics of digital transformation — such as adopting digital/online invoices and automating procurement processes — before tackling advanced technologies like voice or AI,” according to the report. “Laying a strong digital foundation helps procurement departments confidently and effectively tackle advanced capabilities when they’re ready. Being prepared for the needs of tomorrow starts by taking small steps today.”

The report found that a little more than half of companies have plans to upgrade their technology over the next several years to support e-procurement.

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