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Public sector professionals ‘missing out’ on online purchasing

Public sector buying professionals are ‘missing out’ on time and money savings by not taking advantage of online purchasing, new research has revealed. 

Analysis by YPO, the largest public sector buying organisation in the UK, established and owned by 13 local authorities, highlighted that nearly nine out of ten public sector professional purchasers (88%) enjoy the time and money saving benefits of online shopping at home, yet fewer than one in five, just 17%, have purchased anything online as part of their job. 

The findings also showed that almost half of public sector buyers (47%) don’t feel confident making any significant product or service purchases online. This is despite almost three out of four (73%) of them admitting they have bought services such as energy and insurance online in their home-life, whereas only one in twenty (5%) have bought services via a website as part of their job. 

According to YPO’s research, the main barriers to online purchases for work are concerns around compliance, online payment and audit trails. For instance, one in two people (50%) don’t feel confident they could be sure a web purchase would be compliant with their organisation’s requirements. 

However, according to Cabinet Office figures March 2014, an online service, one average, is 20 times cheaper than a phone transaction, 30 times cheaper than by post and 50 times cheaper than face-to-face.  

Simon Hill, managing director at YPO, formerly the Yorkshire Purchasing Organisation, said: “At YPO we have seen a lot of changes in purchasing habits over our 40 years of delivering legally compliant buying solutions for the public sector. 

“However, the research also shows more than half of public sector buyers (53%) who have bought online for work did so for the first time in the last three years. So the move towards large-scale online public sector purchasing could be just around the corner.” 

The independent research was conducted on behalf of YPO by Zebra Square with a sample of more than 200 procurement officers and buying/purchasing managers across the spectrum of the public sector in March 2014. 

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