What are commodity codes?

Commodity codes are standard classification codes for products and services used to detail where money is spent within a company.

How does the UW use commodity codes and why are they important?

The UW uses UNSPSC Commodity Codes. Until recently, commodity codes have only been used behind the scenes in eProcurement. These codes are built in to the products purchased by campus and allowed Procurement Services to see where the campus as a whole spent the bulk of their money for products. This information tells Procurement Services what kinds of items are purchased most, so we can build better contracts to serve your needs.

Commodity codes also allow us to look at supplier spend between departments and with peer institutions.  Are you paying the same price as the department next door?  Is our peer institution getting a better rate? If so, why?

How do these codes help you?

Better contracts mean better pricing from our suppliers, and hopefully, better service.  Commodity codes let us review rates for each supplier, as well as suppliers offering the same exact product, and make contractual changes to give the UW the best possible price. You’ll see more contracts to purchase from, a dedicated contract specialist for purchases at the supplier, and the best pricing we can obtain.

Finding Commodity Codes

Commodity Codes are devised of several different levels with varying degrees of detail in a set hierarchy.  The top most category (called Segment) defines the overall type of code.  An example is a commodity code that begins with 44 which is Office Equipment and Supplies.  Underneath the Segment is the Family category that defines the code further. So a code beginning with 4412 is for Office Supplies.  Commodity Codes can drill down all the way to a specific code within the initial category, such as a code just for pencils.  The more numbers behind the original code (not including zeros), the more detailed the code.

Example: 44-12-19-03

44120000 - Office Equipment and supplies

44121903 - Pen refills

Commodity code example

For Commodity Codes at the UW, we recommend that departments select a Commodity Code that represents the item you are purchasing using the first 4-digits of a commodity code followed by four zeros.  In the example above, if you were paying for pen refills you should select commodity code 44120000.  It is not necessary to use code 44121903 that specifies pen refills. 

*Tip: Each commodity code has a suggested account code associated with it. If the recommended account code doesn't fit for your payment, simply change the account code to what you want to use.

Commodity Code Lists

For your convenience, we’ve compiled a list of commodity code main categories and family categories.  We have also included a list for the most commonly purchased items.  You can search this list either alphabetically or by category.

You may also consult the full list of commodity codes in this Excel spreadsheet. Note the hierarchy tabs at the bottom. We recommend using the first four digits followed by four zeros when searching the commodity code in Ariba. Example: If you find Promotional printing on the Commodity tab is 82121505, we recommend using commodity code 82120000 Reproduction Services in Ariba. See How to Use the UNSPSC spreadsheet for helpful tips.

If the code you are looking for isn’t found here, try searching by a single keyword that best describes the purchase.  (Examples: solvents, supplies, associations, etc.)