eFederal joins the B2G race
- By Dan Caterinicchia, Dan Caterinicchia
- Jul 11, 2000
A business-to-government procurement portal for credit card purchases, eFederal
Inc., announced its official launch today and aims to make a name for itself
in the market with customer service and support.
"We launched in under 90 days from incorporation to going live [on July
4]," said Mark Dowd, vice president of operations at the Washington, D.C.-based
company. "We built the site by listening to government procurement officers
and the people with credit cards, because they are not always one and the
Government users can use SmartPay cards to purchase more than 100,000
different products on the eFederal site, including information technology
equipment, office supplies and office equipment. The site also features
procurement tools, such as online directories, market research, cost analyses,
government forms and templates, and news links.
The company makes money through the traditional reseller model, collecting
a percentage of the products it sells, Dowd said.
But eFederal wants to base its business on customer service and support.
"In one instance a user made a recommendation, and it was implemented on
the site five minutes later," Dowd said. "We want to build our reputation
on customer service and support, and that means not just talk but action
because a lot of times customers don't see the follow-through from companies."
As part of its customer support mantra, eFederal (www.efederal.com)
has made its site free for users without making them register. The downside
of that decision is that the competition can mimic what it's doing, but
establishing trust with purchasers outweighed potential losses to other
companies, Dowd said.
But Larry Allen, executive director of the Coalition for Government
Procurement, said eFederal is just the latest in a throng of companies trying
to get into a hot market.
"This is one more entry in the e-commerce federal marketplace, and I
think right now there are a number of different systems out there, and it's
up to the customers to see which ones survive," Allen said. "There's nothing
any better or worse about [eFederal], but we've seen at least a half dozen
of these companies recently and only time will tell who survives."
Allen warned that despite the flexibility government purchasers are
given for smaller, credit card buys, eFederal and its competitors must follow
competition and fairness rules.