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Accounting giant figures online procurement is best

PricewaterhouseCoopers launches a business-to-business marketplace designed to deliver price discounts to members who buy goods and services on the network.

PricewaterhouseCoopers today said it has launched a business-to-business marketplace designed to deliver price discounts to those who buy goods and services on its network.

Members will be able to use the e.conomy site to purchase office supplies, temporary staffing services, software and business travel, the company said. The marketplace will be anchored by the "Big Five" consulting firm.

With the launch, PricewaterhouseCoopers joins a stream of outfits scrambling to establish online marketplaces, which companies will use to automate purchasing of goods and services and eliminate paper transactions. Also today, clothing maker Guess said it is building a trading exchange and German software company SAP announced plans to partner with to launch a healthcare marketplace. (See related story)

Richard Beaumont, a global e-business leader for PricewaterhouseCoopers, said the company's marketplace differs from those launched by start-ups because it is anchored by an $18 billion consulting company with huge procurement needs that will help drive down prices.

"I think that credibility is going to go a long, long way," he said. "We really think we are coming in with something quite different--delivering greater value. There's comfort that there's a strong organization behind it."

So far, more than 20 members have signed on, Beaumont said.

Executives said the marketplace will offer members savings from 10 to 20 percent on goods and services purchased from e.conomy sellers, with no up-front membership fees or minimum purchase requirements necessary to use the network. The site also is offering access to tools, tips and how-to guides covering procurement strategy, contract negotiation and commodity sourcing tips.

The company launched e.conomy this month in the United States, and will expand into Canada, Europe and Asia Pacific early next year. PricewaterhouseCoopers expects to sign on more than 1,000 members during the first year of operation.