U Market simplifies, streamlines purchasing

January 2, 2014

Financial management, Process

U Market

What if you could help the university save more than $8 million every year and at the same time make your life easier?

As the university looks for ways to increase efficiency and trim its administrative budget, the new supply purchasing site, U Market, provides an easy way for faculty and staff to help out.

Currently, the university has saved more than $8.2 million annually through “strategic sourcing,” adding up to more than $20.6 million in cumulative savings.

“It’s really a matter of maximizing use of our existing internal purchasing systems so we can buy things smarter,” said Tim Bray, director of purchasing services. “We have a huge opportunity to help save the university time and money by simply buying all of our supplies directly through U Market. ”

U Market replaces the previous online university purchasing systems, U Stores and U Mart, and includes a growing number of new suppliers and new items. The university has high hopes that U Market will also reduce the use of purchasing cards, or Pcards, on campus, thereby saving staff a significant amount of time processing these transactions. Some of the benefits include one-stop shopping, responsive customer support, guaranteed contract pricing and faster delivery.

U of M researchers can use U Market to purchase their lab supplies and equipment, including beakers, chemicals, protective clothing and other supplies. In addition to the large lab suppliers like Fisher Scientific and Sigma Aldrich, U Market features specialized suppliers like Rainin, Roche, eBioScience and Integrated DNA Technologies. There are a total of 20 suppliers specifically targeted to researchers and their needs. U Market also has medical, dental and veterinary supplies; A/V equipment, furniture and facilities-related supplies; and many other items.

“I used to look all over for different supplies and ended up spending a lot of extra time and money in the process,” said Rachel Muntean, administrative assistant and receptionist in the Office of the Vice President for Research. “U Market has all of the same products, but they’re all in one place. It’s really so much easier.”

If you haven’t tried U Market yet, check out U Market, or contact your onsite purchasing agent today.

Learn more

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About Erin Dennis

Erin is managing editor for the OVPR, overseeing content strategy for the Office's Web and print publications.

View all posts by Erin Dennis

3 Comments on “U Market simplifies, streamlines purchasing”

  1. GrumpyPI Says:

    Actually, the UMarket ordering process is more burdensome for those doing the ordering than the old UStores blanket order. Additionally, the requirement for multiple levels of authorization for each small order can result in delays of several days for research materials. With blanket orders, you’d place the order and often the supplies would arrive the next day. While UMarket has some nice features, at present, I think it’s a step backward for research.


  2. ES Says:

    One major pitfall of transitioning from UStores to UMarket is that casual users (i.e. lab staff and students) can no longer order items through UMarket without going through a lot of unnecessary training (Chart of Account, Creating Requisitions, etc), as opposed to the online training tutorial that was available for UStores. This means there may be delays in entering their orders into EFS, and increased work load for administrative staff.


    • Tim bray Says:

      Thanks to the two commenters who have expressed concern about U Market. It is always important for us to hear about ways we can make the ordering process better. While we acknowledge that the implementation of U Market has been a major transition for numerous people across the University system, we are encouraged by the overall positive response we have thus far received. A few quick points in response to the posted comments:

      • As with any new software, there are always a number of tradeoffs. While we’ve heard that losing the ability to do blanket orders is a concern to some users, several others have found that using the “favorites” feature has been a successful substitute..

      • One of the real benefits to U Market, as opposed to previous systems, is that it is open to everyone. All University employees (students, faculty, and staff) can shop and assign carts to EFS requesters. This is a significant advancement over previous systems, in which only a select group of people with EFS training could shop.

      • Lastly, we are proud of our delivery times. 91% of all orders placed through U Market are delivered in one to two days. We’re continuously working to improve that rate as well. We know how important it is to get people the supplies they have ordered as quickly as possible.

      In order to continuously improve U Market, we have pulled together a new user’s group. We are working with them to identify areas of concern, priority fixes, and other ways to improve the system. Again, we acknowledge that not everything is perfect, but we are proud of the success to date. In the first six months of U Market over 50,000 orders and $15 million has been processed through the tool. The number of electronic invoices has doubled from the prior period.
      We will continue to work to improve this important tool. Thanks for the comments and suggestions. Feel free to share additional ideas at umarket@umn.edu or give us a call at 612-624-4878. We’re here to help.


      Mark Teragawa, Director
      U Market Services


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