Air Force launches technology 'superstore'
- By Colleen O'Hara
- May 15, 2000
The Air Force brought online last month its Information Technology Superstore, which offers Defense Department buyers
access to about 70,000 items from about 10 different technology vendors.
The online shopping site uses NIC Commerce's eFed Version 3.0 e-procurement
software. It enables users to conduct side-by-side comparisons of products
across multiple vendors and contracts, to order directly from the site without
having to visit vendors' individual sites and to check order status. Currently,
buyers can compare only processor speeds, but other features will be added
in the coming month.
Previously, a vendor would host a page where buyers would go to place
an order, said Marvin Griffin, chief information officer at the Air Force's
Commercial Information Technology-Product Area Directorate (CIT-PAD), which
operates the site. "We lacked all the demographics associated with what
customers were searching for and buying online," Griffin said. "We're getting
that information now. We consolidated the function of online ordering into
a single government Web site."
The demographic information is important for looking at how contracts
are performing and determining what awards the CIT-PAD needs to make in
the future, Griffin said. "It benefits customers as well because now [they]
don't have to shop around at five different Web sites," he said. "The solution
allows for those items to be loaded into a single cart."
The system will automatically divide multiple orders and send them to
the appropriate vendor when the buyer is ready to check out.
The eFed software also makes it easier for vendors to keep their product
data up-to-date, Griffin said. Vendors can enter updated product information,
such as prices, into an Excel spreadsheet. The spreadsheet is then converted
into an Extensible Markup Language document and uploaded into an Oracle
"This is right up there with sliced bread," Griffin said. The feature
makes it easy for vendors to change their pricing information on the fly.
"The whole purpose was to allow vendors to feed my site directly from their
ERP [enterprise resource planning] or order-fulfillment systems," he added.
So far, the ability to request a vendor quote online has been the most
popular feature, Griffin said. Soon, all 127,000 items across all CIT-PAD
contracts will be searchable on the IT Superstore site.