What Is the Difference between GSA Advantage and eBuy

GSA Advantage and eBuy

In this article we examine differences between GSA eBuy and GSA Advantage federal acquisition platforms. While both are designed to assist vendors in delivering their products and services to federal, municipal and local institutions, there are important differences between GSA eBuy and Advantage services that you should know about.

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What you should know about GSA eBuy, GSA Advantage

Before we answer the “GSA Advantage vs. GSA eBuy” question, let us tell a few words about GSA Schedules.

What is a GSA Multiple Award Schedule? Well, it is basically a contract between a commercial market vendor and the U.S. government. The GSA contract allows a company to sell its products or offer services to the government. As long as GSA Schedule contractors hold such a contract, they can place bids on acquisition platforms such as GSA Advantage and GSA eBuy.

Acquisition platforms are governmental marketplaces where federal, state or municipal buyers can place RFQs (requests for quotation). GSA contractors can then place bids and compete for specific opportunities.

Both acquisition platforms serve the same purpose: they allow governmental institutions to purchase goods and services they need. However, GSA eBuy and GSA Advantage have different purposes by design. For instance, GSA eBuy is an RFQ-based platform which means it best fits for selling services, while GSA Advantage is mostly products. Another vital difference is the micro-purchase threshold that allows governmental entities to purchase cheap expendables faster by purchasing directly from a GSA contractor, and paying with a special payment card.

About GSA Advantage

What is GSA Advantage

GSA Advantage is an online platform for federal organizations that allows buyers, such as federal and state agencies to search for and purchase products and services offered by GSA Schedule contract holders. Every GSA contractor is required to publish its products and services on GSA Advantage upon getting on Schedule. Currently, GSA Advantage has over 450,000 government users involved in the GSA procurement process that are in constant need of goods and services. 

The product catalog at GSA Advantage is publicly available, but submitting products to sell via GSA Advantage is only allowed to officially certified GSA contractors.

Who can order on GSA Advantage

The following agencies can use GSA Advantage to purchase products:

  • Federal agencies. Including but not limited to executive departments (like Department of Defense, Department of Commerce etc.); 100% government owned corporations (Federal Financing Bank, or Commodity Credit Corporation); independent establishments in the executive branch of the government (for instance, Smithsonian Institute, United States Postal Service).
  • Other federal agencies, not included above. Several examples are American National Red Cross, Library of Congress, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC). Also, such agencies include District of Columbia, the Senate, the House of Representatives, and cost-reimbursement contractors
  • Other statutes. A number of organizations can be also authorized to buy via GSA Advantage, such as: Howard University, Gallaudet College, National Institute for the Deaf, American Printing House for the Blind, certain governments, FAA authorized entities like NATO or WHO.

State and local governments can also purchase through GSA Advantage, through the Cooperative Purchasing Program and Disaster Recovery Purchasing Program.

How the purchase process on GSA Advantage works

First of all, as a GSA Schedule contractor you need to get on Schedule. Make sure to read our thorough guides on how to get on GSA Schedule. After you are done with this process (it can take a year in total), you are entitled to submit your product catalog to GSA Advantage. Actually, you must do this as a part of your partnership with the government, within the terms of your contract.

After the catalog is uploaded, federal buyers will be able to see your offers and make purchases using Purchase Orders. You can review all Purchase Orders you received and update their status on the GSA Advantage portal, in your GSA contractor profile.

Note that orders below the current value of $20,000, i.e. the so-called micro-purchase threshold, can only be paid by government-issued credit cards. Also, purchases below $10,000 can be made directly by GSA contractors.

About GSA eBuy

What is GSA eBuy

Just like GSA Advantage, eBuy is also a federal acquisition platform where federal, state or municipal agencies can place requests for proposals or requests for quotes in search for the best offer among those placed by GSA Schedule holders. 
GSA eBuy and GSA Advantage are both subject to the Simplified Acquisition Threshold (as of 2022 it is $250,000). Orders above SAT must be placed on GSA eBuy as an RFQ.

Who can order on GSA eBuy

Buyers at GSA eBuy are multiple federal, as well as state and municipal agencies, that require various products and services for their needs. If the amount of the order exceeds the SAT value, there are no other ways for such agencies to purchase services other than posting an RFQ or RFP on GSA eBuy.

How GSA eBuy works

The entire acquisition process can be seen as follows:

  1. A federal buyer (i.e. some state or municipal entity) places a Request for Quotation on GSA eBuy. Such an RFQ has a certain expiration date but is required to stay on the list for at least 2 days so that GSA contractors are able to see it.
  2. The eBuy platform automatically notifies all GSA Schedule holders under a SIN category that matches a given solicitation.
  3. GSA contractors respond to Requests for Quotation by placing their offers or bids. This is only possible as long as the RFQ remains open. After it expires, no further bids are accepted.
  4. When the RFQ expires, the buyer reviews all incoming bids, offers and selects the optimal matching contractor to award the contract to.
  5. After the contractor is awarded, all bidders are notified by email. You can also find the notification in your eBuy account, regardless of whether you won the contract or not.

Bidding to win is not easy without preliminary preparations, so don’t hesitate to contact Price Reporter if you need professional advice and consultation from GSA experts with 15 years of experience in government sales.

We also encourage you to visit the Vendor Support Center (VSC). Aside from the obligation to register at VSC to be able to submit your offers to GSA Advantage and eBuy. There, you can also find a lot of important information about the acquisition process in general, and functioning of the eBuy platform in particular.

How to get a GSA contract

Before you can submit your products via eMod to GSA Advantage / eBuy, you should first register as a GSA contractor. There are a number of good articles in our blog explaining this topic thoroughly, so please don’t hesitate to read them.

Overall, the registration process involves the following steps:

  1. Get certified as a GSA contractor. This includes registering at the SAM.gov portal as a vendor and receiving your NAICS codes.
  2. Select SIN categories that match your business. Note that since GSA MAS Consolidation 2020 there are only 12 large SIN categories left with overall 300 SINs in them.
  3. Register and submit the required documents via the eOffer and wait for the approval. The process may take a while, from 12 to 16 months.

After you are approved as a GSA Schedule holder, you can start submitting your bids to both GSA eBuy or GSA Advantage. 

Let’s take eBuy as an example. To submit your bids on eBuy and make them available for governmental buyers, login to your eBuy account at ebuy.gsa.gov using your contract number as a login. In your account, you will automatically see all currently active RFQs submitted by federal agencies. If the list contains too many lines, feel free to apply filters to refine the results. Note that the list only contains RFQ that match your contract’s SIN category.

If you see an interesting RFQ, don’t waste your time, click it on the list to open the corresponding solicitation. Review its terms, conditions and statements carefully. If you feel that you can undertake such a contract, submit your quote in response. Provide all necessary information about the quote including: items you sell, discounts, delivery conditions, and the expiration date of your offer.

Your bid is sent to the buyer, and upon review you will be notified, whether you won the contract or not.

Conclusion

GSA Advantage and GSA eBuy are both perfect selling platforms where you can look for and secure government contracts. But you need to get a GSA Contract first. Price Reporter has been guiding business owners along their ways towards successful cooperation with the government for more than 15 years already.

If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

GSA eBuy and GSA Advantage? A quick tour to both federal acquisition platforms explaining how each one works and what federal entities can buy through them.

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  • To be GSA approved, a company or organization must be able to offer items or services to the federal government under a GSA Schedule contract.

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