The Wayback Machine -
Crown Commercial Service

How to buy

Our extensive range of commercial solutions provide you with a number of different ways to buy. We’ve put together some brief guidance to help you find the right approach for your buying needs.

Framework agreements

A framework agreement (or framework) is an overarching agreement negotiated with suppliers by CCS on your behalf. They are free for you to use and offer several benefits:

  • Because so many organisations buy through these agreements, the suppliers offer more competitive prices
  • Each framework is compliant with EU procurement regulations, and comes with the peace of mind of standard terms and conditions
  • All suppliers given a place on a framework are vetted before they join and we also hold regular reviews to ensure they are performing well and meeting their obligations

When using a framework you usually need to run a further competition, but there may also be options to direct order or buy through a catalogue.

Further competition

Running a further competition allows you to ask framework suppliers to bid for your business, based on your particular requirements. This allows you to get a competitive price for a solution that meets your specific needs. The key stages of the process are:

  • find a suitable framework(s)
  • specify what you need to buy
  • develop your invitation to tender (ITT)
  • send your ITT to framework suppliers
  • answer clarification questions
  • evaluate tender responses
  • award the contract.

The process typically takes around 6-8 weeks, although this depends on the complexity of your requirements and how many supplier bids you need to evaluate.

Our free eSourcing tool is there to help you run your further competition online, or you can use your own organisation’s sourcing tool if you have one.

If you’re not a procurement professional and would like to learn more about the steps you need to take, have a look at our quick 7 step guide to running a further competition.

You can also have a look at the useful links for more guidance.

Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (CIPS)
Procurement policy notes
Procurement regulations

Direct order

If there is only one supplier on a framework, you can place a direct order (also known as direct award). This may also be possible even if a framework has several suppliers. If the framework you wish to use offers a direct award option, you can use this if:

  • You know exactly what you want to buy
  • You can see which supplier provides the lowest price
  • You do not need to make any amendments to the standard terms and conditions

Each framework will tell you what buying options are available to you.


There are currently 3 online catalogues on the Purchasing Platform. Technology products and office supplies can be ordered for immediate delivery. The guided match functionality for multi-functional devices (print/scan/copy machines) helps you find the right solution for your organisation. It’s easy to start using the Purchasing Platform –

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Bulk buying

Bringing together several customers with common needs provides lots of advantages, including competitive prices and a simpler tender process. We offer a couple of different bulk buying options, often known as ‘aggregation’:

  • eAuctions: run online by us on your behalf, they encourage competition amongst suppliers and help reduce the price you pay. Other criteria such as quality and service levels can also be factored in
  • National further competitions: we bring together customers with similar standard requirements and run a further competition on behalf of all the customers taking part

In both instances, we manage the whole process for you free of charge, enabling you to free up your resources and focus on other priorities. Aggregation is suitable for most common goods and services, and we can use any of our multi-supplier frameworks where a further competition can be run.

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