Skip to main content

Improvements to eDirect Supply Route

16 May 2024

eDirect is an established NHS Supply Chain supply route, enabling us to offer products to the NHS not currently stocked in our warehouses. Customers order products through our online catalogue that are delivered directly from the supplier but invoiced through us. This not only reduces administration for both our customers and suppliers but also provides a more expedient delivery experience.

eDirect has experienced significant growth over the last 17 years and is now our largest route to market by value with sales over £1.87 billion in the last financial year.

The existing process for managing the part shipment of orders is a constant cause of frustration for both customers and suppliers. Currently, where a supplier cannot completely fulfil an order, the supplier accesses our Supplier Portal to reduce the order quantity and complete the order. Customers then receive an automated email alerting them to the order amendment and to re-order the balance.

Supplier lorry close up of tailgate with parcels on pallets

As part of our ongoing commitment to deliver supply chain excellence, we are expanding our existing manual back-order management process from the 10 suppliers of Cardiology and Orthopaedics products to the rest of the eDirect supplier base. This will provide a consistent service across the supply route.

This new process will involve:

  • Suppliers sending daily updates, via a pro-forma to a dedicated inbox, on what they are not able to provide in accordance with the PO/lead time.
  • Our Customer Services National Admin Unit (NAU) will email customers to advise that part of the original order will not be fulfilled and that we will rekey the order.
  • The NAU will then rekey the order balance through the online catalogue on behalf of the customer, eliminating the need for customer intervention and enabling better visibility of the order’s progress. It is intended that the new order created for the balance will reflect an accurate delivery date from the supplier, rather than the standard lead time.

This will benefit suppliers by reducing the need for manual input to amend the delivery date on orders on the Supplier Portal streamlining processes and providing a more efficient purchase to pay process.

We will be extending this new service to all eDirect suppliers through a phased roll out, led by our Inventory Management team. The team is working with existing suppliers on pro-forma development to maximise ease of information provision and will begin contacting all other suppliers during May.

As part of our supply chain strategy, our ambition is to provide a fully automated solution for a new direct shipment channel. However, this will not be possible in the short term and therefore this manual step will improve the performance of the supply chain, making it easier for both the NHS and suppliers to do business with us in the interim.

If you have any queries about the new process, please contact your usual Inventory Management contact.