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E-procurement trends in a post-Covid world

How do we tackle challenges faced by procurement professionals in a post-Covid era?

Birds eye view of shipping containers

The Covid-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the e-procurement industry, leading to several changes, from accelerating the adoption of e-procurement systems to driving digitisation and promoting sustainability. Unite spoke to industry experts to get their take on the matter.

Changes in buyer-supplier dynamics

Member of Unite’s Executive Board, Christel Constant, says changes are being witnessed on both sides, between suppliers and buyers. Scarcity has increased for buyers and having a choice of multiple suppliers (as provided by Unite’s Mercateo Marketplace and Procurement Portal) is an advantage. There are also instances when buyers decided to let go of their one-to-one relationships with suppliers – one sourcing strategy – to have more redundancy in supplier networks. Also, suppliers reluctant to come to digital marketplaces have realised that the marketplace is a great place to get visibility for their goods and services.  

Christel Constant says the digital marketplace is an asset during crisis.

Dr Marcell Vollmer, CEO of Prospitalia Group, agrees and reiterates that the golden triangle for procurement – price, quality and timely delivery – holds good. Still, there’s a new addition to this, and that’s risk management. Vollmer says that in the past, it was about globalisation, where goods were procured based on the best price, no matter how far the goods had to be shipped from, but with the supply chain crisis, the focus is on glocalisation. Vollmer defines this as “globalisation with the right local setup”, contributing to sustainability.  

Dr Marcell Vollmer talks about changes in procurement priorities in a post-Covid world.

Shifting roles: from cost-cutters to problem solvers

Christel Constant notices a palpable shift in procurement leaders’ roles and strategic positioning within companies. The procurement department is known as the cost-cutting heart of a company, adding that during the crisis, they had to don the mantel of a problem solver – identifying where to find new suppliers and how to ensure the supply of essential materials for their production line is guaranteed.  

Digitalisation had a big role to play before Covid-19, especially in the purchase-to-pay processes that are less strategic – indirect or catalogue-based products – and companies were able to improve efficiency, reduce costs and increase transparency in their supply chain management. 

However, the pandemic has highlighted the importance of digitalisation even more and now companies seek to accelerate compliant decentralisation and enable end users, so they can focus their time on other strategic topics.  

Member of Unite’s Executive Board, Christel Constant explains how technology is driving decentralisation in the B2B e-procurement industry.

Dr Vollmer’s takes on post-Covid KPIs are interesting to note as the focus is in keeping with ESG, labour and sustainability standards. He says that in the past we were mostly driven by hard savings. However, companies are seeking to be much more transparent post-Covid and real-time monitoring is crucial.  

Dr Marcell Vollmer, CEO of Prospitalia Group, says procurement professionals are looking beyond hard savings.

The benefits of e-procurement, such as increased efficiency, cost savings and improved supplier relationships have become even more apparent during the pandemic. As we move forward, e-procurement will likely continue to play a vital role in procurement processes, providing a secure and efficient means of conducting business in a post-Covid world.