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Digital Commerce Programme

Making it easier to search for and order products, via a new digital interface.

Digital Commerce Programme

As part of our vision to be easier to work with, we’ve set up a Digital Commerce programme to provide a new digital platform and interface, encompassing the online catalogue, to NHS trusts across England.

The new digital commerce suite will make it much easier for customers to search for and order products, improving overall operational performance and effectiveness.

Why we need a new Digital Commerce platform

We know customers spend over 35,000 hours a month in total accessing our Online Catalogue and Ordering system and their experience is not as good as it could be.

People tell us they spend too much time searching for and ordering products, it’s not easy for them to find what they are looking for and the quality of information is often poor.

And each year £2.3 billion of orders are processed via catalogue solutions that are no longer able to adapt to meet the needs of the NHS.

Clinician sat at a desk using a mobile tablet

To address these issues and to deliver an improved way of doing business with us, we’re rolling out the new digital commerce platform and catalogue in phases to NHS trusts across England over a two-year period starting from spring 2024.

We recognise that a modern digital commerce experience is essential to resolve customer pain points and to ensure our service aligns to their expectations. We are working collaboratively with customers, internal teams and our tech partners to co-design the new platform, ensuring the needs of all users are considered. We want to be easy to work with across all NHS care settings.

Jodi Chapman, Customer Engagement Director, NHS Supply Chain

What the programme will deliver and the benefits this will bring

The new digital commerce platform and catalogue will make it easier to do business with us by providing a more intuitive and consistent experience designed around the business and operational needs of our customers.

This will lead to a better customer experience, greater product visibility and improved workforce productivity, ultimately driving savings within trusts.

We will be delivering the platform and catalogue in incremental phases, getting the foundations and the basics right from the beginning and then, building on these improvements, introducing more features over time.

All hospital deliveries this way sign on building wall

In summary, we will be providing a way of doing business that is:

  • Simpler and faster
  • More accurate and responsive
  • Reliable and can be trusted.

Modernisation of our customer facing eCommerce platform is a critical part of our IT strategy to ensure we are best positioned to serve the NHS. The new platform will be built on more flexible and resilient technology – reducing risk and increasing our ability to respond to our users’ needs.

Matt Wynn, Data and Technology Executive Director, NHS Supply Chain

Working with you to develop the platform

Customers are at the heart of our programme and we’re committed to involving them at all stages as we develop and deliver the new digital commerce platform and catalogue.

The current catalogue supports different types of customers who use the system for a variety of reasons. Our users, and key customers, operate across multiple jobs within trusts; encompassing people who place orders directly within the catalogue, administrative roles who set up users and may approve orders, through to customers who predominantly research on the catalogue but place orders through alternative channels.

Hospital corridor

The involvement of such a range of end users in the co design, decision-making and delivery of the digital commerce platform and catalogue is critical. And our ability to deliver successfully is underpinned by multiple points of insight, including direct customer touch points and feedback.

Following the procurement of the technical solution and supporting technical partner, we’re continuing to engage with customers via our Digital Commerce Customer Working Group. The programme is working collaboratively with a pilot group of trusts along with the different technical and customer service partners and providers to determine the design and to build and test the new digital commerce platform and catalogue.

Pilot trusts were primarily selected on their online catalogue ordering volumes, enabling us to engage with those trusts that are high users of our online services and in a good position to provide valuable feedback on the new platforms design, capabilities, features and performance.

Pilot trust representatives, supported by several different change roles, are providing ongoing input into the iterative design work for the initial capability roll outs. Their participation at all stages of the programme is ensuring that our customers are at the heart of co-design and delivery decisions.

A number of additional trusts are coming on board to assist research around some of the fundamental features of the catalogue, contributing subject matter experience as part of our co-design approach.

We will also be engaging with other trusts and the wider NHS as the Digital Commerce programme progresses.

How we are rolling out the platform

Our approach is collaborative and is progressing well. Having selected our new technical partner over the summer, we are now in the design and build stage of the project. We are engaging with pilot trusts who are sharing with us their current experiences and views on design, as well as participating in user research.   

Design and Build


Design and Build

Implement MVP*

Extend, Enhance

First features will be released to the pilot trusts beginning in February 2024 following the completion of the initial design and build stages.

The platform will be delivered in phases, starting with some important improvements, and then developed over time.  

This initial implementation will be to our pilot trusts. Additional trusts will be invited to volunteer to access the early release version from Summer 2024.

*MVP = Minimal Viable Product – building the minimum set of features to enable users to test and feedback. This is then incrementally iterated through a test and learn cycle.

Frequently Asked Questions

When will we see the platform delivered?

The programme is planning to deliver the first iteration of the platform to the pilot trusts by Spring 2024. Following this, we will work with the wider base of acute trusts to migrate them to the new Digital Commerce platform. Working in parallel we will expand the platform’s capabilities through agile development to serve the non acute market.

As the platform capabilities grow we will work across the NHS to migrate customers to the new solution and remove old technology through a phased de-commissioning plan.

How will trusts be supported through the migration process?

We are developing a change management programme to support trusts as they migrate over to the new platform. We are working directly with trust users to identify the changes that will be required to operational processes and procedures, performing training needs analysis to jointly propose a business readiness plan to ensure a smooth transition. The readiness plan may be subtly different trust by trust but where possible we will aim for consistency in ways of working across trusts.

How will you ensure any disruption to NHS operations is minimised throughout the transition?

Whilst the customer transition and migration plan is still being worked upon, the programme will initially work with the pilot trusts to ensure a robust plan is in place for minimising any disruption, taking into consideration NHS business as usual operations.

The learning from the initial delivery of the platform to the pilot trusts, alongside the plan will then be used to approach the migration for all other trusts. We will have a dedicated team on hand to support trusts in the early days post cutover to ensure any questions / challenges are addressed promptly.

Will the new platform work on mobile devices?

Yes, the new platform will be accessible by both web and mobile applications.