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An automated purchasing system is a system in which a Web service or other technology and interface may display pricing from multiple pre-approved vendors for the convenience of purchasers. This kind of technology is generally used in enterprise resource planning (ERP) for large purchasers in various industries.
Experts often talk about an automated purchasing system as a procurement tool, which implies that the interface is enterprise-oriented, that smaller purchases are elements of a larger supply chain, and that purchasers are relatively sophisticated buyers in a particular industry. Experts and those using an automated purchasing system may talk about real-time pricing points where raw materials, simple products, or auxiliary products and services are presented clearly in the interface to allow for a more streamlined procurement process. In general, an automated purchasing system as part of ERP is designed to allow all parties involved in the buying process to get more available data in order to make long-term purchasing more efficient. Software products like automated purchasing systems may be set up to be delivered through innovative new hosted models, such as Software as a Service setups, to further provide convenience and efficiency to users.