How to buy a product

How to follow the correct process when purchasing products at UW–Madison.

Products are considered tangible items such as office supplies, lab equipment, or computer equipment. Some purchases can be made without additional approvals, others may require the help of a procurement specialist.

Ways to buy products

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Buying products ShopUW+

If you are making a purchase over $50,000, it’s recommended to contact a procurement specialist.

Kinds of things you can buy

  • Office supplies
  • Computers
  • Lab equipment and supplies
  • Maintenance and repair operational supplies (MRO)

Benefits of using ShopUW+

  • Make your purchase immediately without additional approvals.
  • Items at ShopUW+ are already on contract.
  • ShopUW+ saves the university time, your own time, and money through added efficiencies.
  • No requisitions are required.

Visit ShopUW+

Buying products from a contracted vendor not at ShopUW+

Search for vendors on contract

Contracts are typically limited in scope. Not all items available through a vendor are necessarily included in the scope of the contract. Purchasing Services manages and maintains many contracts for the purchase  of products and goods. These contracts have already gone through a formal bidding process and do not require additional work prior to purchasing the needed products and/or goods. Contracts may be limited in scope so not all items available through a vendor are necessarily included in the scope of the contract. Contact the procurement specialist responsible for the commodity if you are unsure.

If your purchase is $5,000 or less

One-time purchases can be made using a purchasing card; for recurring purchases, a purchasing card or a contract blanket order can be used (based upon Department preference). Note: Contract blanket orders do allow for purchases over $5,000 as long as the items you are purchasing are included in the contract.

If your purchase is more than $5,000

A requisition is needed, which will involve a procurement specialist. You should not initiate a purchase with a vendor until an official purchase order has been issued.

Buying products from a vendor not on contract

We can buy products from vendors that are not on contract, but certain dollar thresholds require additional steps before making the purchase.

If your purchase is $5,000 or less

Purchases under $5,000 are considered best judgment and you can proceed without purchasing involvement using either your purchasing card or a non-contract blanket order.

If your purchase is more than $5,000 and not exceeding $50,000

A requisition with a completed simplified bid is needed. Please follow the instructions for the Simplified Bid Process.

If your purchase is more than $50,000

Please contact the procurement specialist responsible for that commodity area.

Sole source procurement

Sometimes there are cases where a product can only be purchased from one source. These are purchased through a waiver process.

If the purchase is $25,000 or less

Complete the Non-Competitive Purchase Request form and follow UW-3058 Non-Competitive Purchases Policy.

If the purchase is more than $25,000

Contact the procurement specialist responsible for the commodity you need purchase.

Vendor eligibility

Before beginning the purchasing process, check to see if the university is allowed to purchase items from the vendor. If they appear on the following directories, they are ineligible.


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Purchasing Services
21 N. Park Street
Madison, WI 53715

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(608) 262-1526