IT Direct, a supplier of IT hardware and software to the insurance industry, has opened an online business-to-business shopping facility for the insurance market.

Citedirect is an e-procurement, or purchasing, portal.

The firm claimed the portal would make IT buying more efficient by simplifying the purchasing process.

The portal, which will supply over 20,000 products, is aimed at companies affiliated to the Lloyd's and London insurance markets, the Baltic Exchange and the British Insurance Brokers' Association (Biba).

IT Direct managing director Bob Blatchford said the company estimated that products bought through the portal would be at least 15% cheaper than those bought from other sources.

Blatchford added that the portal would be extended to include access to office supplies and human resource and corporate travel services.

He said a key advantage of the portal was that it gives companies greater purchasing control by making online authorisation a requirement for a sale to proceed.

Citedirect was developed with technology provided by specialist eprocurement provider Biomni, which is a joint venture between Deologic and listed software company Computacenter.

Computacenter is also IT Direct's chief technology partner. It will assist IT Direct in sourcing products and services for the portal.

Access to Citedirect will cost each registered user £225 per year, but will include free IT news from ComputerWire.

The site began a one-month, live pilot stage with six users on 15 April.