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Small business can buy and source online

E-marketplaces could save you cash, but watch out for dodgy suppliers

Onestopclick.com, launched this month, is the latest online marketplace for smaller companies. Online marketplaces are websites where companies can look for new suppliers and get quotes from them. But it doesn’t yet vet its suppliers.

Businesses looking for good value services could get more choice and lower prices using online marketplaces, because they don’t have to be reliant on existing suppliers. But buyers could end up buying from unchecked suppliers because services such as Onestopclick do not check applicants’ credentials.

Onestopclick is aimed at small companies with approximately 20 employees and only offers internet and e-commerce suppliers.

Peter Prince, manager of small North London security firm Elite Security, had a look at the service. “It simply alleviates the need for hours of dead-end phone calls,” he said. Buyers can also use the service for price comparison, in much the same way as consumer-oriented sites let people shop around.

Big business has long known the value of a wide supplier base. Onestopclick is free for buyers, and passes requests onto suppliers who then quote direct. The supplier has to pay a small charge after a deal has been struck.

Paul Denham, managing director, acknowledged that similar online sites already exist, but thinks his company is filling a gap in the market. “Other services are geared towards commodity products such as buying a fax. We’re offering suppliers who can fulfil needs specific to small business with unique requirements,” he said.

But Denham admitted the site does not vet the suppliers who can offer quotes. "Initially the barriers will be set fairly low, but performance will be monitored to eventually provide buyers and suppliers with ratings to cut out time wasters,” he said.

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