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Ordering materials for a department or school is now easier, and in time shoppers will have more supplier options and lower costs.

These improvements are thanks to a new online marketplace, BuyCarolina, which ITS helped launch in mid-August. ITS Enterprise Applications assisted the UNC Finance and Operations division with the rollout of BuyCarolina, which replaced the former purchasing solution ePro.

BuyCarolina: Purchasing made smarter
The logo for BuyCarolina

When using the ePro marketplace, users could shop only from one supplier at a time. If a department customer wanted to order materials from both Staples and Lenovo, the shopper would have to individually browse the catalog of each supplier to add materials to the cart and check out in ConnectCarolina.

With BuyCarolina, shoppers can search across multiple suppliers at once instead of having to view each catalog individually.

“I like comparing prices and having fewer purchase requisitions,” said Robin Council, and accountant for the UNC School of Law. “Instead of five individual purchase requisitions, it’s nice to process and approve just one.”

Growing supply in the marketplace

In addition to saving customers time, BuyCarolina will eventually save customers money.

With ePro, it took about six months for the University to add new suppliers. The process was slow because UNC-Chapel Hill independently handled the suppliers, working through the technical requirements one by one.

With BuyCarolina, the process will be faster because the University no longer has to establish connectivity with each supplier. Instead, the contracted software company, Coupa, will work out the technical details once negotiations with the supplier are complete.

BuyCarolina currently has 26 suppliers in the marketplace.

“A university our size normally has around 60 suppliers,” said Carolina’s Chief Procurement Officer Beau Jimmerson.

Enterprise Applications expects that the marketplace will have 50 to 60 suppliers over the next few years. This would not have been possible with the ePro marketplace given the tedious and time-consuming approach to adding new suppliers using that solution.

With more suppliers on the platform, shoppers gain a larger selection of products and greater competition for pricing.

“Ultimately, this is going to drive down the cost of products because as we’re able to bring on more suppliers, we’ll have better pricing,” Jimmerson said.

A month in

In the first month after BuyCarolina launched, users placed nearly 650 orders with multiple suppliers within the marketplace.

One of Finance’s strategic initiatives for procurement was to make purchasing easier at the University. By that measure and others, BuyCarolina is a big win.

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