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Alternative Suppliers

Despite the many benefits of purchasing from University-wide Contracted Suppliers, occasionally, a University-wide Contracted Supplier cannot provide the item or a technical equivalent, or may not be able to meet or beat a competitor's price.

A competitor to a University-wide Contracted Supplier, may have the lower cost due to one of the following items:

  • the competitor is running an inventory-clearing special
  • it is a "grey market" item being resold possibly without warranty
  • it is an item infrequently purchased by others at the University. (University-wide contracts offer the best deals on the highest-demand products.)

Choosing a Supplier

While managing your department budget and seeking lowest cost items is a priority for the University, it is also important to consider other purchasing factors such as quality, warranty, shipping, or other items that may impact cost. We encourage all purchasers to look for best value products and weigh the risks of using a non-University-wide Contracted Supplier (for a one-time purchase or for a temporarily reduced price) versus the benefits of using a University-wide contracted supplier. 

Use the following chart to assess risks versus benefits when choosing the right supplier and purchasing mechanism.

Chart to assess risks versus benefits when choosing the right supplier and purchasing mechanism.
Risk
University-wide Contracted Suppliers1
Alternate Suppliers
less than $2,000 purchased via P-card2
$10,000 or less purchased via PantherExpress System non-catalog PO3
over $10,000 purchased via PantherExpress System non-catalog PO4
Risk of excess negotiation, order processing time, or accounting time
Low
Medium
Medium
High
Risk of fraud or misrepresentation (is the supplier reputable?)
Low
Medium
Medium
Low
Risk of not achieving the best fit for specialized technical requirements
Medium
Low
Low
Low
Risk of extra or surprise delivery charges Low Medium Medium Medium
Risk of warranty not being honored
Low
Medium
Medium
Low
Risk of inability to return incorrect orders or damaged goods
Low
Medium - High
Medium
Medium
Risk of regulatory noncompliance: environmental, health and safety tracking
Low
High
Medium
Low
Risk of regulatory noncompliance: import/export controls
Low
High
Medium
Low
Risk of litigation or loss in a law-suit
Low
High
Medium
Medium
  • 1 Supplier vetted, with pre-negotiated terms, and paperless ordering.
  • 2 P-card purchases (see restrictions) carry very limited contractual protections, and require post-purchase accounting journal entries and reconciliations.
  • 3 If supplier is not already established in University's systems, you must send a supplier verification form along with an IRS form W9 from the supplier in order to establish on PantherExpress. To meet federal, state regulations, competitive quotes or bidding process may be required. The University's standard Purchase Order carries improved contractual protections.
  • 4 Same as footnote three above, however, review by Purchasing Services (and further negotiations) reduces some of the risks.

If you think that the item has potential to be purchased frequently by many University departments, please submit an inquiry to Customer Service  to request a reassessment of pricing or to determine whether the item can be added by a University-wide Contracted Supplier.

Purchasing Methods

Purchases from suppliers who are not University-wide Contracted Suppliers should be made using one of the PantherExpress System forms. Goods purchases are typically made on Standard Forms whereas services purchases are typically on one of the Specialty Forms, namely the Services Agreement Short Form (Domestic) for $10,000 and under.