GSA Web site adopts group buying

GSA Web site adopts group buying

By Mark A. Kellner

Special to GCN

JUNE 26—The Federal Technology Service is betting that two or more buyers can purchase computers and peripherals more cheaply than one.

FTS is conducting a one-year test of demand aggregation technology from MobShop Inc. of San Francisco to drive its group buying engine for the eFast program on the Web at buyers.gov. The General Services Administration unit will pool individual and agency purchases together for volume savings.

MobShop is one of numerous companies tapped by GSA to power various procurement engines on the Web during the pilot period. Becky Porter, public relations manager for MobShop, said the other participants in the volume buying end of the project are CISglobal, a systems integrator in Silver Spring, Md.; KPMG Consulting, an electronic commerce unit of auditor KPMG Peat Marwick of New York; and Volumebuy Inc. of Tarzana, Calif., a developer of buyer-pooling software.

In addition, ACS Government Solutions Group Inc. of Rockville, Md., has teamed up with SupplierMarket.com of Burlington, Mass., to provide GSA with private auction capability. E-commerce platform provider Ariba Inc. of Mountain View, Calif., announced today that it will acquire SupplierMarket.com in a stock merger.

Other companies said to be involved in the at buyers.gov project include Electronic Data Systems Corp., FreeMarkets Inc. of Pittsburgh, Frictionless Commerce Inc. of Cambridge, Mass., and Oracle Corp.

The at buyers.gov site will let government employees and agencies purchase computers, printers, servers and other hardware through online auctions. Although GSA has long enjoyed massive purchasing power on large contracts, one-off purchases get less favorable prices.

The group buying system will open this summer. Buyers will access the group buying feature in the eFast section of at buyers.gov. Products there are offered in time-limited group buying periods called Buy-Cycles. The more buyers who purchase a product, the lower the price falls for everyone. It drops incrementally until the closing price is reached.

The Buy-Cycle closes either when a designated time period ends or when the maximum number of orders is reached. Every buyer in the Buy-Cycle pays the final price. When the Buy-Cycle ends, the order goes off to a government-approved supplier and is shipped directly to the buyers.

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