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New online platform for purchasing office supplies

| 12 March 2003

On March 7, a new and improved system for purchasing office supplies was launched on campus. Departments and units can now visit a special Berkeley–Office Depot website and, by buying items through this gateway, save between 15 and 20 percent on typical purchases.

In the past, orders for goods were processed through campus supply (a unit that has been phased out), which assessed a markup of 17 percent on each order. By purchasing items through the new website, customers not only avoid this added cost but receive a generous group discount from Office Depot — as well as next-business-day delivery.

“Using the latest technologies,” says Patrick Goff, interim manager of office-product purchasing for Business Services, “we’re working to bring campus customers and vendors closer together, cutting out the middleman wherever possible.“

Some campus customers have been ordering directly from Office Depot’s website (without benefit of a group discount), says Goff, but that service will end on April 30.

To use the new site, employees must be a designated Berkeley Financial System (BFS) office-supply buyer with a P-Card account and a CalNet identification number. Authorized purchasers can place orders by visiting www.bsrvm.berkeley.edu and clicking on “office products” (the link is located on the bottom-left side of the page). Much like Amazon.com, the site will store information about each customer and what they’ve ordered, making subsequent purchases faster and more convenient.

Employees who want to browse through Office Depot’s inventory, but who don’t have purchasing authority, can peruse the company’s print catalog or go directly to its public site (www.officedepot.com). The prices quoted in these two sources do not include Berkeley’s group discount.

The new purchasing website is the first of several initiatives to be launched by the campus’s Business Services office (which operates under the Vice Chancellor–Business and Administrative Services). Eventually, the purchasing website will expand to include other products, such as office furniture and scientific equipment, Goff says.

“The restructuring of our purchasing process was based on feedback we received from our campus customers, who said they prefer to have a direct interface with vendors,” says Goff. “And Berkeley employees will get that by using this new website. It will allow them to buy products in a way that is faster, easier, and cheaper.”

Question or comments about the new website may be submitted via e-mail (mailto:prchhelp@uclink.berkeley.edu) or by calling 642-7378.