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Frequently Asked Questions


What is a Reverse-Auction?
A reverse auction is a means of collecting bids for procuring products and services that has many advantages over the traditional sealed bid, catalog or electronic catalog processes. Instead of going through the costly and time consuming process of contacting suppliers by phone, fax, etc., the reverse auction enables a company to define what product or service they want and then receive bids online from pre-approved suppliers for the best price and terms available on the market. The transparency of reverse auctions enables suppliers to place competing bids for the Buyer`s product or service request, creating an online, competitive bidding event that ultimately results in the best possible market price. Reverse auctions are totally web-based, and create an online version of the sealed bid process with the competitive edge of an auction.

Who is using Reverse Auctions now?
Branches of the United States Armed Forces, Federal Agencies, City and State governmental departments, as well as thousands of private sector businesses are reaping the benefits of reverse auctioning. In fact, many City and State governments have mandated the use of reverse auctions to achieve cost savings for their taxpayers and have changed their laws to allow for the use of such competitive bidding events.

What is an RFQ or an IFB?
RFQ is short for "Request-for-Quote" and IFB is short for "Invitation-for-Bid", both of which are, in essence, a detailed description of a Buyer`s need for materials, products or services. They can include detailed descriptions, formal bid documents, shipping information, dates, times and even terms and conditions. Once a list of pre-determined and pre-approved suppliers is identified, the RFQ/IFB is sent out requesting their participation to bid in the online event. Suppliers will use this RFQ/IFB, which will be available online, to determine if they can supply the product or service, given the specifications the Buyer has outlined in the RFQ/IFB. This makes it very important for the Buyer to be as detailed as possible when creating the RFQ/IFB.

Are there different pay models for reverse auction services?
There are several different pay model options, to include, but not be limited to, per event pricing and subscription pricing. The pay model will be negotiated between the customer and Orbis Online prior to a reverse auction taking place.

How do negotiations and settlement between the Buyer and the Selected Supplier take place?
The same way it is done today. Current processes and procedures for both the exchange of goods and payment may be followed. The reverse auction simply fits right into current procurement practices as a dynamic pricing tool for collecting bids.

Are sourcing services available?
The Buyer has the option of inviting just their own suppliers (incumbents) to participate in the event, or having Orbis source new suppliers, or, both options may be employed. If it is decided that Orbis will source for new or additional suppliers, our very talented and experienced sourcing staff will do so. Once a list of qualified suppliers is compiled, it will be sent to the customer for their review and approval, prior to admitting them into the reverse auction event.

Can I stipulate where and with whom I want to do business?
Yes, part of the RFQ/IFB submittal process is to outline with whom you want to do business by industry, region, special business status, etc. Once these qualifications are determined, our sourcing team compiles, for your review and approval, interested suppliers that meet the specified qualifications.

How many suppliers will need to participate to make this a worthwhile event?
The answer to this question varies, but realistically you need more than one bidder to generate competitive bidding. If you choose to utilize our sourcing services you increase your chances of having multiple suppliers available to bid on your event.

Is there a model in which we can host and run auctions ourselves from our own website?
Yes, the reverse auction services are all web-based and can be streamed into any website using HTML and XML webjection. Realistically, you can be up and running reverse auctions from your website in a matter of hours with no additional hardware or software required.

Is there a lengthy integration associated with these services?
These e-procurement solutions are completely web-based, which eliminates the need to purchase additional hardware and other resources associated with installation and maintenance. If web access is present, you and your company can easily participate in an online auction event as a buyer or a supplier.

How easy is it for suppliers to participate in these online auction events?
Supplier participation couldn`t be easier. There is no cost to register and participate in auctions. A supplier needs only access to a Web browser and they are then up and running. There is no hardware, software, or internal resource requirement for suppliers.

Am I obligated to award to the lowest bidder if I use this service?
No, the Reverse Auction is not just about saving the customer money, but also about saving time and increasing efficiencies, so, you should make your selection based upon the best value for you. You may find that one supplier with slightly higher bids can supply all of your requirements and that several other bidders were the low bidders for certain lots. If it will save you more in shipping costs by purchasing all the products from the one bidder then you would save by purchasing from all the low bidders, then you may choose to purchase all from the slightly higher bidder. You select suppliers based upon what is most important to you. The Reverse Auction tool is here to increase competition and gather pricing efficiently.

How long does a Reverse Auction take?
This can vary from auction to auction, but the Buyer sets the auction duration. Most Real-Time Reverse Auctions take place over the course of 30-minutes to one hour, with 5-minute extensions occurring if bidding continues beyond the allotted time. A Buyer also has the option of utilizing our Standard Reverse Auction tool to stretch an auction out to several days, or even weeks.

What are Current Supplier Cost and Target Price?
The Current Supplier Cost (CSC) and Target Price can be used for many different purposes. For instance, the CSC might be the most recent historical purchase price paid for the product or service being sought, or it could be an average of quotes obtained for the product or service. It may be used to gage the savings achieved through the reverse auction, or it may be used as a starting point for the bids received through the reverse auction. The Target Price may be the goal price the Buyer wishes to achieve through the reverse auction. Several optional names for these components are available, e.g., instead of "CSC", "Market Price" or "Historical Purchase Price" may be used to represent this figure. Target Price may be replaced with "Desired Price" or "Goal Price". Additionally, the Buyer may choose to veil these prices from the bidders participating in the reverse auction.

What types of products and services can be procured through Reverse Auctions?
Literally any product or service that can be competitively bid can be procured through use of the Reverse Auction Platform.

What browser works best with this Reverse Auction platform?
Any browser is compatible with this reverse auction platform, however, it is best to use the latest versions of Microsoft Internet Explorer or Netscape.

I am getting an error related to cross-site scripting and am unable to access the system. How can I fix this error?
Newer versions of Internet Explorer, starting with version 8.0 have a built in XSS filter that disables cross-scripting in an effort to stop phishing. Our system utilizes cross-site scripting and you will need to disable this feature through the options menu in IE in order to access the system.

What benefits will I see from utilizing or participating in the Reverse Auction?

  • Sourcing time can be cut in half. What normally takes months, can be reduced to a matter of days or weeks.
  • Increased responsiveness by qualified suppliers
  • Expansion of supply resources
  • Increased opportunities to be notified of upcoming bidding events
  • Market transparency
  • Efficiency