E-procurement solutions improve purchasing efficiencies

Farnell’s regional sales director of UK, Ireland and Benelux, Mathew Thorpe

Farnell’s regional sales director of UK, Ireland and Benelux, Mathew Thorpe, shows how e-procurement is improving productivity when purchasing component.

Market trends, exacerbated by the pandemic, have presented new challenges and opportunities. Buyers had to quickly adapt to working remotely, placing greater reliance on online buying tools. At the same time, the need to improve efficiencies and showcase cost savings have never been so important.

A key issue when moving to digital is cost. Many buyers in small or medium-sized enterprises cannot warrant an investment in a large ERP system. To fill the gap, suppliers and distributors have invested in low-cost solutions. Buyers can access easy to use, accessible and free e-procurement solutions. Farnell’s iBuy is an established solution offering automation, stock control and reporting to streamline the procurement cycle.

One company using iBuy is Staffordshire-based Incap Electronics which specialises in PCB, electro-mechanical, cable and wire harness assembly. Incap buyer, Leanne Smedley, has used a range of e-procurement systems throughout her career. She found iBuy particularly user-friendly as it enables her to liaise seamlessly with Incap’s expediters who are also home-based. Up to 12 staff use the iBuy system remotely.

Leanne said: “It’s just so easy to use iBuy to check prices and lead times, review stock availability and place orders. All our buyers are currently managing their usual workloads from home and iBuy has been brilliant. We are still processing the same volume of orders and can operate in the same way as before. Navigating through the system is easy and efficient. iBuy speeds up the process of placing orders and it is simple to schedule orders in advance and specify delivery dates. There’s also an option to request a quote when we need to increase our order quantities.”

Another company benefiting from iBuy is Derbyshire-based contract electronics manufacturer, Zeal Electronics. The company has been using iBuy since 2013 and, according to MD Daniel Hagin, the system helps Zeal turn orders around rapidly. Zeal uses iBuy with Farnell’s ePass API (application programming interface) to automate the buying process and increase efficiencies by eliminating duplication of effort.

Daniel said: “We are doing  a lot more online buying these days and iBuy is just so easy to use. It simplifies the whole process and is really flexible. We can specify custom fields, easily input urgent jobs as required, and more efficiently meet the deadlines that our customers set us. The automated alerts to approve smaller purchases are very helpful.

“One of our biggest strengths is that we offer fast turnaround and iBuy definitely supports us to achieve this. Any time we save on procurement directly enhances our customer service offering. We have won a lot of new business out of being more efficient and speed is extremely important in our business.

“We have so much work on now, so we need to turn things around quickly. We have 40 employees at our facility of which five are part of a strong technical team who feed into the iBuy system. IBuy enables our team to speed everything up and cut time checking or kitting when product arrives on-site. The iBuy system is going to play a key role in our future growth.”