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Frequently Asked Questions  

My Account

How do I register as a supplier on your site?
How will I know when my registration is complete?
How do I update my contact information?
Why is it important to set up commodity codes on my profile?
What is a proxy?
Why do I get an error message when trying to access your web page?

Finding Sourcing Events

What is a sourcing event?
How can I find events to respond to?
How can I get more information about an event?

Responding to an Event

How do I submit a response?
How do I retrieve and submit a response I drafted earlier?
How can I see my past responses?
How do I add to or change a response I already submitted?
Who will see my response?
How will I know if my response was successful?
How do I find and acknowledge addendums?

General Questions

What if I have trouble logging in to the portal?
How do I change my password?
What if I forget my password?
Where can I get information about what you require of suppliers?
If I exit in the middle of a task, will my work be saved?
How do I print an event and attachments to a bid proposal?


My Account

Q. How do I register as a supplier on your site? Top

To register as a supplier, click the Register link on the Welcome page. If you are the first person registering from your company, you become the "primary contact" - the administrator of your company's account with us. We require you to accept our Terms and Conditions on your company's behalf before you can proceed with registration. You will set up the company information and your own contact information (including e-mail) as the primary contact. You'll maintain your company's information in the future using the Update Account Information link.

The primary contact can also set up logins for other Supplier Contacts in your company, so you may wish to identify these people before you get started. They will log in later using the login information you set up, and afterward will maintain their own contact information, including changing the password you set up for them. A primary contact cannot view the responses of other people at his or her company.

The next time after registration that you and other Supplier Contacts log in, you will be prompted to answer some questions. Your answers will be used to verify your identity later, if you ever forget your password.

Q. How will I know when my registration is complete? Top

Registration is complete when you complete all required fields and click Finish. You'll see a Congratulations page, then immediately be logged in so you can respond to events if you wish. If you are unsure whether you have completed registration, click the Check Registration Status link. Be aware that if you later delete some required information, your registration status can change back to "Not Complete".

Although we send you an e-mail confirming that a login was created for you, this e-mail does not necessarily mean your registration is complete.

Please note: If you get a "Duplicate Tax ID" message when you try to register, this may mean someone has already registered your company as a supplier on our site. In this situation, please contact the Purchasing Department at (828)250-4800.

Q. How do I update my contact information? Top

Most suppliers get their login from the primary contact at their company. After you get a login, you can change your own contact information. First, log in. Click the Update Account Information link and change any of the information you can access. You can change your personal contact information, select commodity codes for items you supply, and designate a proxy if you wish. When you are done, click the Finish button. If you make changes to your name and other details, they will not take effect until the next time you log in.

If you are the primary contact, you can click the Update Account Information link to change your own contact, commodity code, and proxy information. In addition, you can change Company Information and answers to our questions (if any), and use the Add New Contact tab to add or look up Supplier Contacts (except that you cannot look up existing passwords or view others' responses to events).

See General Questions for information about changing your password.

Q: Why is it important to set up commodity codes on my profile? Top

Commodity codes allow you to tell us what types of events you want us to notify you about. If you have supplied a current e-mail address and indicated you wish to receive e-mail, then it is easier for our purchasing staff to notify you when we release an event matching any of the commodity codes you have indicated. You maintain commodity codes as part of your Supplier Contact profile, so different Supplier Contacts from your company can be notified about different events. If you are the primary contact, the codes you set up are your own and do not automatically carry over to other Supplier Contacts you may have set up for your company.

If you do not set up commodity codes, you may not see all events on our web portal and are unlikely to receive e-mail notifications alerting you to events of interest. If we have required that you provide commodity codes, you will not be able to complete registration - and bid on events - without providing at least one code.
When adding commodity codes, make sure to move each code you want to the Selected (upper) section of the page before continuing.

Q: What is a proxy? Top

A proxy is a person who receives a copy of a Supplier Contact's event notifications. A proxy cannot submit responses. A Supplier Contact might choose to designate a proxy, for example, before an extended absence when the Suppler Contact may not have immediate access to e-mail. An office support person who has been set up as a proxy can monitor events and let the Supplier Contact or a colleague know that a bid opportunity has come up.

Q: Why do I get an error message when trying to access your web page? Top

You may see a message when you try to access our site if the browser is not maximized or if you have partial pages (such as a bookmarks or Favorites list) displayed. To correct this, click OK until the message box closes, then maximize your browser and close the bookmarks list. If you are still having problems, it is possible that your computer's monitor is set to a low screen resolution, which you can increase. In Windows, click Start > Settings > Control Panel > Display > Settings > Screen Resolution, and drag the bar until it shows a resolution of at least 1024 x 768 pixels. Click OK. It is not necessary to restart your computer to use this setting. This setting will also resize other programs you run and will remain on your monitor until you change it.


Finding Sourcing Events

Q. What is a sourcing event? Top

A sourcing event is a request for a bid, information, proposal or other solicitations we choose to make available over our web portal. An event might have many lines, and you may bid on (respond to) any or all lines. We usually establish Terms and Conditions specific to each event, which you must agree to before responding. We may also attach questions to an event, which are sometimes required for all who respond to the event.

Q. How can I find events to respond to? Top

Anyone viewing our portal can click the Browse Open Sourcing Events link to see an events list.

If you have registered and are logged in, you can receive e-mails that notify you immediately when an event is released. To sign up for this, click Update Account Information to select commodity codes that your company supplies. Also make sure you have provided a current e-mail address and selected to receive e-mails from us. When an event is released to our web portal that matches the commodity codes you have set up, you (and your proxy, if you have one) may be notified by e-mail. If allowed by our policy, our purchasing staff may also choose to make an event visible to you and other selected suppliers that is not visible to everyone who visits our web site.

You cannot respond to a closed event.

Q. How can I get more information about an event? Top

Click an event on an events list to view its details. You can click Print to send a printable version of the event to your default printer.

If you still have questions, you can ask them on the Q & A Forum tab on the event page (if this event contains a Q & A Forum tab). When you submit a question, our purchasing staff will respond to you by e-mail. Be aware that they may also choose to publish it with the other event information if it will help ensure a fair bidding process. In this case, your anonymous question and our answer will be available to any supplier who views the event.

Answers to questions asked by others may be viewed on the Q & A Forum panel on the event summary.


Responding to an Event

Q. How do I submit a response? Top

Only suppliers who have completed registration may respond to events. Please carefully review information under all tabs before responding. Click Respond Now on an event listing to display the Event Response page. View the Terms and Conditions for this event by clicking the link, if any. You must accept the Terms and Conditions before you can submit a response, then click Next. If you decide not to respond, please select No Bid and click Next.

Any response you submit must contain at least one line, and it is possible that an event will require you to respond to all lines. Click the Respond link for a line. When completing lines, you can respond for the full quantity or for a partial quantity. If you choose to respond to some but not all of the lines, please check No Bid for the lines you are not interested in. If you want to indicate that you will not be charging for an item - for example because it is a promotion, or an accessory, or a sample - select "No Charge" at the line level.

An event or line may include required question(s) that you must answer as part of your response.

You can attach a pricing catalog or other information using the Attachments tab of the Event Response page.

When you have nearly completed your response, the portal may display a list of messages indicating if you have missing information. When your response is complete, click Submit then OK to send us your response now, or just click OK to save your response in Draft status for submitting later. We are unable to award to responses that are in Draft status. If you click OK without submitting, a message may display reminding you of the submission deadline.

If you want to submit a response by mail or phone instead of online, contact our purchasing staff.

Q. How do I retrieve and submit a response I drafted earlier? Top

Log in, then click View Bid History for responses you have prepared, including responses with a status of Draft. Click the draft event whose response you want to change. The Terms and Conditions will already be marked as accepted; click Next. To edit your response to a line, click the Edit Response link. To manage any attachments to your responses, click Next. Click Finish to return to the line list. When you are done with all your line edits, click Finish from the lines list. Click Submit, then OK.

You cannot respond to an event after it is closed, even if your draft was begun before the close date.

Q. How can I see my past responses? Top

Log in, then click the View Bid History link to view the Bid History page. Optionally complete one or more search fields and click Search. If an event is cancelled after you bid on it, it will continue to be listed on your Bid History page.

Q. How do I add to or change a response I already submitted? Top

Log in, then click Bid History for responses you have submitted. Check the box of the event whose response you want to change. Click the Modify Response, at the top of the page, to place the response into Draft status, click OK to verify you want to proceed. Click Open. The Terms and Conditions will already be marked as accepted; click Continue. To edit your response to a line, click the Edit Response link. Click Continue to return to the line list. When you are done with all your line edits, click Continue from the lines list; click Continue thru the questions, Click Continue to access the Submit button. Don't forget to click Submit to send us your response again. Each time you re-access your submitted response via the Edit Responses link - even if you don't change anything - it returns to Draft status until you click Submit, Click Done.

If you want to withdraw your response from consideration, use the check box and click Withdraw Response Submitted. The response will be visible from View Bid History with a status of Withdrawn. If you decided not to withdraw your response you may reinstate as long as the event is open. Reinstated responses must be re-submitted.

Q. Who will see my response? Top

After you submit it, your response to a non-sealed-bid event may be viewed by those on our staff who are responsible for the event. However, your response to a formal (sealed-bid) event cannot be viewed by anyone but you until after the response period for the event has closed. Your response is never visible to other suppliers during the response and award phases. It is possible that we may publish some information about a successful response in e-mails and/or on the web portal as part of Event History, so that suppliers who submitted unsuccessful responses can see the outcome of the award.

Q. How will I know if my response was successful? Top

If you have indicated that you wish to receive e-mail, you may be informed by e-mail when we have made a decision to award an event or event lines to one or more specific suppliers. However if your response was not successful, you may not receive an e-mail - in this case, you should check the portal to see if we have posted award status. If we also choose to post some information about the award to the portal, you can see this on the event record under Award Summary. If there is a dispute period for the event, and our decision is successfully disputed, you may receive a subsequent award notice with new information.

Q. How do I find and acknowledge addendums? Top

Addendum details are available under the Terms and Conditions tab in the Summary View of the bid proposal. Use Browse Open Sourcing Events to find the event and open it.

Acknowledge receipt of addendum when entering your bid response. You will be presented with an event question after your line responses are complete.


General Questions

Q: What if I have trouble logging in to the portal? Top

The primary contact for your company will set up your account and give you your username and temporary password. If you can't log into our site, make sure your computer does not have Numlock or Capslock set, because this changes how your password appears (consult your computer's documentation for details).

Too many toolbars (including the Google toolbar) can also cause problems. Press the F11 key to expand the browser to full screen without toolbars.

Also make sure that your computer monitor's resolution is set to at least 1024 x 768 pixels (instructions for this are given in the answer to the question, "Why do I get an error message").

If you try multiple times to log in and are not successful, the system will eventually prevent you from trying. Please try again later on. If you still cannot log in after waiting, please contact us.

If you thought you were registered but now find that you are not, it may be because:

  • When you originally provided a password, you typed it two different ways
  • You forgot to provide (or later deleted) commodity codes that were required
  • You forgot to provide (or later deleted) your answer to a question that was required

If you are still having problems, call us. We can offer assistance, register you over the phone, or accept a paper bid.

Q: How do I change my password? Top

Log in. Click Change Password. You will be prompted for your old password, then you must type the new password twice. Click Save. You can use the new password immediately the next time you log in.

Q: What if I forget my password? Top

If you forget your password, provide your username on the Login page, then click the forgotten password link. You will be prompted to answer the question(s) for which we stored your previous answers. After answering them, you can type your new password twice, then click Save to log in.

Q: Where can I get information about what you require of suppliers? Top

Click the Register link to view a page containing a link to our Terms and Conditions. You must accept them before you can proceed with registration. Also, we usually attach additional Terms and Conditions to each event, which you can view by clicking the Browse Open Sourcing Events link, then clicking an event and viewing the Terms And Conditions tab.

Q: If I exit in the middle of a task, will my work be saved? Top

There may be times when unforeseen circumstances prevent you from responding to an event or completing registration in one session. While responding to an event, if you click Next or Finish before submitting the response, your bid will be saved in Draft status on the Open for Bids page. During registration, if you click Cancel before providing contact information for your company and yourself, there is no record of you in our system. If you click Finish after providing contact information but before completing registration, you will see a page telling you what is missing before your registration will be complete. Click OK to go back to the Home page or Back to continue providing your information.

Q: How do I print an event and attachments to a bid proposal? Top

Open the event. In the Summary view, click the Print button to generate a printable report. Print attachments separately; find them in the body of the Summary tab or under one or more of the other tabs. Open the attachment and print.

Q: What if I forget my password? Top

If you forget your password, provide your username on the Login page, then click the forgotten password link. You will be prompted to answer the question(s) for which we stored your previous answers. After answering them, you can type your new password twice, then click Save to log in.

Q: Where can I get information about what you require of suppliers? Top

Click the Register link to view a page containing a link to our Terms and Conditions. You must accept them before you can proceed with registration. Also, we usually attach additional Terms and Conditions to each event, which you can view by clicking the Browse Open Sourcing Events link, then clicking an event and viewing the Terms And Conditions tab.

Q: If I exit in the middle of a task, will my work be saved? Top

There may be times when unforeseen circumstances prevent you from responding to an event or completing registration in one session. While responding to an event, if you click Next or Finish before submitting the response, your bid will be saved in Draft status on the Open for Bids page. During registration, if you click Cancel before providing contact information for your company and yourself, there is no record of you in our system. If you click Finish after providing contact information but before completing registration, you will see a page telling you what is missing before your registration will be complete. Click OK to go back to the Home page or Back to continue providing your information.

Q: How do I print an event and attachments to a bid proposal? Top

Open the event. In the Summary view, click the Print button to generate a printable report. Print attachments separately; find them in the body of the Summary tab or under one or more of the other tabs. Open the attachment and print.