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Such platforms are now central to businesses of all sizes. They manage sourcing and requisition through bidding, payment and invoicing.

E-procurement technology has come a long way.

Over the past few decades, companies have increasingly transformed their procurement processes, making the leap from paper to digital to the cloud. These changes have affected companies of all sizes, in all industries, says a new survey of 500 buyers of maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) products by W.W. Grainger Inc.

E-procurement platforms have been at the heart of this transformation. Such systems are central — digital platforms that can manage all procurement activity, from sourcing and requisition through bidding, payment, and invoicing. Today, 87% of survey respondents are using e-procurement tools.

The use of these tools ranges in scope and complexity. Grainger says they range from simple implementations that offer straightforward connections between companies and their suppliers, to advanced systems featuring automation, predictive analytics, artificial intelligence, and other high-tech capabilities.


E-procurement trends include:

  • MRO professionals may be under-utilizing their organizations’ e-procurement platforms. Most of the MRO professionals who responded said their organizations use e-procurement platforms. But less than half were familiar with the platforms. More said their organizations use the platforms for simple tasks — such as placing orders and tracking spending — than for complex applications.
  • About three out of four survey respondents said their organization’s data quality was particularly good or better, but only one in four said their data quality was excellent. About three out of four survey respondents said that more than half their procurement reporting can be aggregated, but only about one in three said it can all be aggregated.
  • The two most-used technologies today are e-procurement marketplaces, which integrate product, pricing, and inventory information from multiple vendors into a single platform, and automation, which can eliminate manual data entry and simplify processes.
  • Survey respondents indicated that AI, machine learning, predictive analytics and API integration could benefit their operations in the future, though fewer are using these innovations today.
  • Just over half of survey respondents who are using an e-procurement platform reported encountering problems with it. The most-cited problem was that suppliers will not share all the data they have.

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