Purchasing Procedures

All purchases required are made by the department staff.  Students, faculty, and researchers may request a purchase through iBuyNU or the ME Purchase Order Form and are not authorized to order directly from vendors

Once you are ready to order supplies, there are two ways to do so: iBuyNu (view NU's list of preferred vendors) or Non-iBuyNU (if you are ordering from a company other than a preferred vendor).

iBuy NU orders

  • Graduate students, faculty, and staff will be given access to iBuyNU, Northwestern's online shopping catalog, should they need to purchase items for research or academic use. Items purchased on iBuyNU are referred to as catalog requisitions.
  • See the FFRA Training website for the iBuyNU Job Aid.  

How to order from iBuyNU:

  • Log into the iBuyNU through IBUYNU Marketplace.
  • Type your User Name (NetID) and Password (StudentID).
  • Problems logging in? Call Customer Service at 1-4357, Option 2.
  • Create a shopping cart to purchase the items you are interested in.
  • When you are finished, send the cart to Sujin Kim (netID: MCS7535), and type your chartstring into the message box.

Other Orders 

  • Purchases from a company whose catalog is not in iBuyNU are referred to as non-catalog requisitions. 

How to order outside of iBuy NU:

  • You must fill out the ME Purchasing Form
  • Fill out the form completely with the vendor name, chartstring to be charged, the catalog number, the description, and the price.
  • The form is sent to
  • Order total in USD
  • Chartstring (you may use 'multiple lines' for multiple chartstring)
  • As applicable:
    • a PDF of the quote or invoice for the order
    • a shopping cart or list of item #s and links for the items needed
  1. Once the ME Purchasing Form is submitted, it will be routed through electronic workflow to your advisor and the department.
  2. Once the order is approved, the department will create the requisition for your order.
  3. After the order is dispatched, you will receive a confirmation with the purchase order number (beginning with PUR). This information is important to reference if you need to contact the supplier regarding your order. 
  4. Make sure to scroll to the bottom of the confirmation email in case the chart-string approver leaves any comments.
  5. You can view the status of your order, as well as read comments and reference the purchase order number, on the shared tracking document.

Information for Approvers

  • Approvals will be routed via email, automatically sent from "Smartsheet Automation."
  • Approve, Deny, and add comment directly in the email body.
  • The original requester will receive notification, as well as the department.
  • View the workflow instructions with screen shots here.

Receiving Your Order 

  • When your order arrives, You will be notified by email when your order arrives at the department mailroom (B214)
  • Pick up your package and check the items carefully. Return the packing slip to the bin next to Sujin's cabinet at the ME office (M211).
  • If something is missing, please follow up with the vendor first. If an item needs to be canceled from an order, please email

Additional Information  

  • If you would like to order a restricted item from Amazon via iBuyNU, please contact to submit a request for the restriction to be lifted.  
  • If the restriction on the item cannot be lifted, or if we are unable to reach a purchasing agreement with a supplier, we may have the option to use the department’s corporate card (Pcard) for the purchase. The Pcard is only to be used as a last resort for low-dollar-amount transactions. 
  • If you know that a purchase order has been dispatched for your order, but the item has yet to be delivered within a week without notification from the vendor, please follow up directly with the vendor with provided the purchase order number (starts with “PUR”).
  • If a company contacts you about late payment for an invoice, please forward it to contact immediately. Include the invoice and the purchase order number.