Electronic bidding systems are rapidly becoming the norm in Japan, with many government organisations setting up designated portals to conduct all tender procedures online. The national government has integrated the various steps of the procurement process into one portal called GEPS. (www.geps.go.jp)
Regional and local government entities each have developed their own platforms. For electronic bidding procedures for public works contracts, a platform called CALS/EC is fairly widely used at regional and local level.
Merits and demerits
Electronic bidding has merits for foreign-based companies, as it would lessen the time necessary for receiving and submitting documents, giving more time to prepare a successful bid. However for foreign companies, who have no legal entity or legal representative in Japan, participation in electronic bidding on platforms such as GEPS is not possible, as they cannot obtain a digital ID. It is however always possible to submit tender documents on paper.
If a company is eligible to obtain a digital ID, it is advisable to create a designated terminal for each terminal, as each portal will require its own specific settings together with the hardware/software for a card reader for the digital ID.
Please note that all Electronic Bidding portals are exclusively in Japanese. Due to the technical complexity of the portals, it is advisable to have a Japanese speaker present, when engaging in online bidding.