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What is Indirect Purchasing? – Definition

What is Indirect Purchasing? – Definition

Indirect purchasing refers to the process of procuring goods and services for a business that are not related to its core operations. Indirect purchases are non-essential items, such as office supplies and cleaning services, that support day-to-day operations but do not contribute directly to profits or revenue. Indirect purchasing is an important component of a company’s overall procurement strategy. In this article, we’ll provide an overview of what indirect purchasing is, why it’s necessary, and how best to approach it in order to maximize savings and efficiency.

What is Indirect Purchasing?

Indirect purchasing is the process of acquiring goods or services from suppliers that are not the primary source. Indirect purchasing is typically used to acquire materials, components, or services that are not easily obtainable from the primary supplier.

Indirect purchasing can be a challenge for organizations because it introduces more complexity and risk into the procurement process. Organizations must carefully select indirect suppliers that can provide high-quality goods or services at a reasonable price. Furthermore, indirect suppliers may not be as well known or established as the primary supplier, which can make it difficult to assess their reliability.

The Different Types of Indirect Purchasing

Indirect purchasing refers to the process of acquiring goods or services that are not directly related to the company’s core business activities. These goods and services are necessary for the company to function, but they are not part of the company’s main product or service offerings.

Indirect purchasing can be divided into three main categories: operating expenses, capital expenditures, and strategic expenditures.

Operating expenses are the day-to-day costs of running a business, such as rent, utilities, office supplies, and employee salaries.

Capital expenditures are larger purchases that a company makes in order to expand its operations or increase its productivity. Examples of capital expenditures include factory equipment, vehicles, and real estate.

Strategic expenditures are those that a company makes in order to gain a competitive advantage over its rivals. Strategic expenditures can include marketing campaigns, research and development projects, and new product development.

The Benefits of Indirect Purchasing

Indirect purchasing is the process of acquiring goods or services from suppliers that are not the end-users. The benefits of indirect purchasing include cost savings, improved quality, and increased efficiency.

Cost savings: Indirect purchasing can help you save money on your bottom line. When you purchase goods or services through indirect means, you eliminate the middleman and the associated costs. This type of purchasing can also help you secure better prices from suppliers by leveraging your buying power.

Improved quality: When you purchase indirectly, you have more control over the quality of the goods or services you receive. By working directly with suppliers, you can ensure that you are getting exactly what you need and that it meets your high standards.

Increased efficiency: Indirect purchasing can help streamline your operations and make them more efficient. By cutting out the middleman, you can reduce lead times and get products or services to market faster. Additionally, this type of purchasing can help simplify your supply chain and make it easier to manage.

The Drawbacks of Indirect Purchasing

There are several drawbacks of indirect purchasing that should be considered before using this method. First, indirect purchasing can lead to higher prices due to the markups charged by the middleman. Second, it can be difficult to find a reputable and reliable middleman, which can lead to problems with quality or delivery. Finally, indirect purchasing can be time-consuming and complicated, as there are often many steps involved in the process.

How to Implement an Indirect Purchasing System

An indirect purchasing system is a way for businesses to streamline their procurement process by centralizing their purchases of non-production related items. This type of system can be used to manage both direct and indirect spend, but is most commonly used for indirect spend due to the large number of suppliers and SKUs involved.

There are many benefits to implementing an indirect purchasing system, including improved visibility into spending, increased control over the procurement process, and cost savings. In order to implement an indirect purchasing system, businesses need to first select a software solution that meets their needs. Once a solution is selected, businesses will need to onboard their suppliers and set up spend categories. Finally, businesses will need to establish rules and approvals for purchase orders.

Alternatives to Indirect Purchasing

There are a few alternatives to indirect purchasing that can be implemented in order to save on costs. These alternatives include:

1. Direct sourcing: This involves working directly with the suppliers of the raw materials or products that you need, without going through a middleman. This can help to reduce costs, as you will not have to pay the margins of the middleman.

2. E-procurement: This is the process of using electronic means to purchase goods and services. This can be done through online marketplaces or by dealing directly with suppliers online. E-procurement can help to reduce costs by streamlining the purchasing process and reducing the need for paper documents.

3. Strategic sourcing: This is a procurement method that focuses on finding the best value for money when purchasing goods and services. It involves carrying out a detailed analysis of the supplier market in order to find the most cost-effective options available.


In conclusion, indirect purchasing is a process that helps businesses save money by buying non-core goods and services from external suppliers. By entrusting the procurement of materials and supplies to an experienced team of professionals, companies can reduce their costs while freeing up internal resources to focus on core competencies. Additionally, going through the indirect purchasing process allows organizations to benefit from economies of scale and consistently access quality products at competitive prices.

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