Identifying the need

How you make purchases

  • Specify what you want to buy. Make sure your specification meets requirements.
  • Choose the most appropriate way to make the purchase.
  • Where there’s an existing Oxfordshire County Council contract for goods/services/works this contract should be used.

Existing contracts

Information about existing contracts can be found by:

Adding or amending contracts

If the goods/services you want to order aren’t in the eStore, or if an existing contract needs to be amended, contact OCC corporate procurement team

Shopping in IBC self-service

Shopping carts must be created in the IBC self-service eStore before any commitment is made to suppliers

Ways of creating shopping carts and purchase orders are:

  • eStore shopping carts
  • service shop
  • simple shop
  • invoicing plans

Important: purchase orders with more than one VAT rate

  • If you have an order where the goods/services have more than one VAT rate (for example, part of the order is standard rated and part zero rated), you must raise a purchase order with more than one line – i.e. a separate line for each of the VAT rates.
  • A service shop order can only have one line, so if the goods/services being ordered have more than one VAT rate you can’t use a service shop. Instead, eStore or Simple Shop.
  • This has always been the case, but has now become more important because HM Revenue & Customs requires us to follow the Making Tax Digital rules by keeping digital records and using software to submit VAT returns. This is not possible if one line has mixed VAT rates.

eStore shopping carts

The eStore has entries for all goods and services contracts so you can automatically raise purchase orders.

All the main school catalogues suppliers are included in the eStore. You are strongly encouraged to raise eStore shopping carts because they are from contracted suppliers, who meet our agreed levels of performance, ability to supply, financial viability, insurance, health and safety and other requirements.

Priced items have been included in the eStore catalogue to make ordering as easy as possible. Where this is not possible there are ‘free text’ entries which let you to type in your requirements against a contract.

Note:  Free text entries don’t allow management information to be collected, so should be used only where necessary.

Service shop

Use service shop  to place an order where you’ll receive multiple invoices, but you’re not sure when or how many invoices you’ll receive or what the final value will be for the individual invoices.

Service shop can’t be used for multiple lines, capital expenditure or if you’re shopping on behalf of someone else.

Please read the information above about purchase orders with more than one VAT rate.

Simple shop

Most goods/services should be purchased using the eStore. Simple shop is an alternative to using estore for goods and services which don’t have a contract.  Simple shop can’t be used for capital goods.

Invoicing plans

Invoicing plans are negotiated as a method of payment for some contracts, where the date and value of the payment can be specified in advance.  The owner of the contract decides if a contract is suitable for invoicing plans and makes sure the details are in place with the supplier.

Invoicing plans can only be used with some contracts, so if you’d like to raise an invoicing plan and aren’t sure if you can use them with your suppliers, contact

Raising orders

Purchase orders (POs) are needed to let suppliers know what you require. It’s important to create the order so that suppliers know what our expectations for the delivery are.  They also let the supplier know what PO to include on their invoices.

The format of the purchase order depends on how you want to receive the goods/services and how you expect the invoice to be broken down.  Where there are catalogues in the eStore, the self-service system will guide you through the order.  If you use a locally-sourced supplier, that’s not subject to a contract, you should use the quotation from the supplier to guide the layout of the purchase order.

The following information will be required on the PO:

  • Description: this should have enough information for the supplier to know what you want and how you want it.  When you raise orders from the catalogue or through ‘can’t find’, only the ‘vendor text’ will be printed on the purchase order, so please ensure you add your requirements to the vendor text field.
  • Price: the actual price as per the contract or quote, or an approximate cost for some services or multiple delivery orders.
  • Quantity (not in service shop): you don’t have to have the whole quantity in one go, examples of multiple delivery orders are given below.
  • Delivery date: use this to let the supplier know when goods or services are required.  An e-mail reminder will be generated and sent to the shopper two days after this date, if the goods receipt hasn’t been entered into the system
  • Product categories (previously known as material groups):  these drive coding and reporting. To find the right category use the search facilities available when you raise a shopping cart or view the list of product categories (xlsx format, 58 KB) 
  • The format of the purchase order will depend on how the goods/services will be received and how the invoice will be broken down.  If the purchase order is laid out in the same format as the invoice, the invoice can be processed more easily.

Multiple delivery orders

Orders for multiple deliveries can be used to save work but it’s important you choose the most appropriate method.

  • If there are regular invoices for the same amount use the eStore to raise a single line with a quantity that represents the number of invoices to be received.
  • If the values are known in advance, but are variable, use the eStore to raise multiple lines with a line for each invoice.
  • If multiple deliveries are needed, but the actual dates are not know, use eStore or service shop.

Copying shopping carts

If you need to copy a previous order you can do this by copying shopping carts (search in IBC for help in doing this)and updating the previous text and coding.

Emergency orders

An emergency order is only for genuine items which are needed immediately. They should only be used when there’s a risk to a person or property and when a purchase order can’t be raised before the goods are delivered or service carried out.

  • A purchase order has to be raised as soon as possible after the event
  • A note stating that the order has been placed verbally, and goods/services have been received, should be added to the purchase order. Example text: ‘This order is a confirmation of <description> carried out on <date> and is provided for the purpose of quoting a purchase order number on the invoice.  Please do not resupply’.
  • When verbally requesting goods or services from a supplier, make it clear they should wait to receive the purchase order before sending an invoice, as they have to include the PO number on their invoice or it won’t be paid.