June 2, 2003, 12:00 AM

Wawa Food Markets gains flexibility in hosted online auctions

In a new hybrid auction service, the convenience store chain is running its own online procurement auctions that are hosted by ecMarkets.

Wawa Inc.`s Wawa Food Markets, a chain of more than 540 convenience stores, is subscribing to a new hosted web-based procurement system that gives it more control over the types of online auctions it conducts, the company says.

Wawa is the first retailer to subscribe to a new hosted ASP suite of auction services from ecMarkets, says Sandeep Murthy, vice president of operations for ecMarkets. Like a typical ASP model, the new service is based on a technology platform hosted on network servers operated by ecMarkets. But unlike a typical ASP model, it gives more control over auction operations to Wawa, which can directly set up and monitor different types of auctions as it deems necessary for each particular area of procurement, Murthy says.

For example, Wawa may run a basic reverse auction for procuring dairy products within particular regions, but it may decide to run multi-line auctions for hard goods like stationery items. Multi-line auctions enable it to view bids from numerous suppliers for both regional and nationwide contracts; the ecMarkets system automatically calculates the overall costs of accepting separate regional contracts and compares that to the cost of one nationwide contract, or the overall costs of a partial nationwide contract for a limited number of goods along with several regional contracts.

He adds that ecMarkets still offers advice on conducting auctions, providing various levels of support that retailers can subscribe to as part of their ASP contract. "As they get more comfortable, they can do more on their own," Murthy says. Formerly known as ecFood, ecMarkets is beginning to branch out to serve non-food retailers, Murthy says.

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