Purchasing consortia are not new and neither, to a large degree, is e-procurement. However, the focus of both has been primarily on medium to large sized organizations looking to manage their procurement activity better, achieve an improved buying position and, in many cases, deliver an improved margin. Until now there has been nothing comparable available to smaller, independent operators – such as pubs, clubs, in-house caterers, care homes, independent schools, golf clubs and academies – which is why we have created FoodTradeDirect.

At the heart of FoodTradeDirect is our proven e-procurement solution, epsys. epsys is the leading hospitality-related online ordering system and it already handles the e-trading requirements of a wide range of foodservice groups. When combined with Acquire’s purchasing strength, in the form of FoodTradeDirect, it provides a unique e-trading platform that benefits every catering services provider by bringing all their suppliers together in one place.

Logging in and out of different supplier websites to place orders is painful. With FoodTradeDirect caterers can centralise all their supplier orders, get their goods and manage their invoicing from just one web-based system. Each caterer can shape the range of supply categories that they need and FoodTradeDirect will work with them to select, set up and manage the supply arrangements. After that they order online and the goods arrive at their kitchen door. Simple! There’s no commitment and no fees for logging on. Pricing is always competitive because FoodTradeDirect monitors supplier pricing on a daily basis so caterers don’t need to worry about getting a great deal.

And using FoodTradeDirect doesn’t affect a client’s payment relationships. The supply agreement is with each supplier, giving the caterer payment terms and credit limit flexibility. We also offer a free Invoice Management Service that allows the caterer to select the invoices they want paid. They send us the money to settle the total amount and we make all the separate payments on their behalf. If they are disputing an invoice, or waiting on a credit note then it’s up to the caterer what they pay and when they pay it – they have total control. A full history of invoices received, disputes in progress and payments made, is always available online.

Our supply network is second to none, and if we don’t have the kind of supplier a caterer needs (which is unlikely!) then we’ll go out and find one for them. And remember, caterers can retain their existing supply arrangements – but trade with them online through FoodTradeDirect. Caterers may tell us which supply categories they need and we’ll make sure that we connect them to the right supplier – a supplier that understands their needs and makes sure all expectations are met day in, day out. Caterers don’t have to choose a single supplier for each category. In fact, we encourage competition between suppliers because this keeps the prices low and the service standards high!