The Crown Commercial Service (CCS) is aiming to transform the way the wider public sector and central government buys common goods and services.
The government agency is building a Crown Marketplace, which connects buyers to suppliers offering the most competitive deals on a wide range of products and services. The online service will help ensure that public sector buyers have easy access to the very best deals.
You can search in much the same way as you do at home on Amazon clicking your mouse to select the products and services you want to buy, adding these to your basket before purchasing in a matter of minutes.
It will allow users to bypass the lengthy forms and processes normally associated with completing a procurement, while ‘smart basket’ functionality will alert buyers to the best total price option, taking into account delivery costs.
The platform is already live and CCS is testing it on two categories of products and services – technology products and office supplies. A third for multi-functional devices will be added in August 2017.
More than 300,000 products are currently available on the platform. It will take some time for CCS to move all its goods and services over to the marketplace, but it’s up and running and likely to expand quickly.
How will the platform save users money? It’s early days but the signs are encouraging. CCS reports that the prices being achieved are already challenging the likes of Amazon.
For example, one customer recently bought 250 Lenovo laptops at a price 13% cheaper than Amazon – saving them £43,000 on just one order.
And it’s not just government departments, local councils, schools and NHS trusts that can use the service.
Early signs are also encouraging for small businesses as they are often quicker to adapt to market movements.
All this will contribute to the government’s goal of ensuring £1 in every £3 it spends will be with SMEs by 2020.
CSS can also offer a support service tailored to meet the buyer’s specific needs. The process involves separating the purchases into appropriate groupings, like-with-like, such as hardware, applications, and infrastructure goods or services. Procurement options will be identified for each item/group of items, with a particular eye for what could be purchased together to increase leverage to get the best deal.
The support service team will also look for potential synergies. For example, desktop and LAN support may be better purchased through the same provider.
The Crown Marketplace is a major step forward in terms of procurement for local government and it certainly has the potential to boost competition and achieve significant savings for the taxpayer.
Download the full Socitm Member Briefing on the Crown Marketplace and buyer support service.