Survey: public sector buyers ‘not confident’ online

Only 17% of managers responsible for making purchases for public sector organisations have ever done so online, according to a new survey.

The survey of procurement and purchasing managers by public sector buying consortium YPO found that the figure compared to 88% who had undertaken online shopping at home.

Almost three out of four of the officers surveyed (73%) have bought services such as energy and insurance online at home, whereas only one in twenty (5%) have bought services via a website as part of their job.

Simon Hill, managing director at YPO said: “Our customers are talented and experienced public sector purchasers and procurement officers who know how to secure the best value deals.

“So it was surprising our research showed that although public sector buyers enjoy saving time and money shopping online at home, when it comes to their buying job, more than half still reach for a catalogue, pen and fax and do it the hard way.”

According to YPO’s research, the main barriers to online purchases for work are concerns around compliance, online payment and audit trails.

Exactly half didn’t feel confident they could be sure a web purchase would be compliant with their organisation’s requirements.

Online payment issues – including security and not wanting to pay up front – was an issue for almost one in four (23%). One in six (15%) said they needed an easily auditable paper trail and don’t feel confident online purchases will provide this, the research found.

But Hill said that more than half of public sector buyers who had made online purchases at work had done so for the first time in the past three years, “so the move towards large-scale online public sector purchasing could be just around the corner.”

Established in 1974, YPO is the largest public sector buying organisation in the UK, established and owned by 13 local government member authorities. 

Colin Marrs

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