Category Management in Federal eCommerce

Category Management is a way to present a group of like items, generally from a functional perspective, in such a way that the individual kinds of items in the category are listed and described, and their relationships and uses are also cataloged and explained in detail.

Organizing materials in such a fashion is essential for eCommerce sellers in order to support buyers who browse when shopping. Browsing provides the opportunity to understand all the options and enables informed, best-value choices.

A category will consist of an overarching designation: the title of the category. Within this grouping the subcategories can be listed in a branch-like fashion to show their relationships in relation to the entire category.

Here’s an example:

Office Supplies

Paper

White Copy Paper

By weight
By size
By package quantity
By brand
By finish
By price

Multi-Purpose Paper

Color Paper
Recycled Paper…

Writing Instruments
Fasteners
And so on …

Office supplies are ubiquitous and therefore a good category to illustrate the principle of subcategories. Even young students have a basic understanding that there are various items involved in doing activities at school that comprise “supplies” needed to support the learning process. Taking that further, they can distinguish between like-things that are used to write or draw with, things that are used to write or draw upon, things that are used to store or display the items written or drawn upon, and things that are used to change or repair those items; and yet see all of these things as related to each other.

Admittedly, there are some who know more about office supplies than others. For most people, a plain white sheet of 8.5 x 11-inch paper is “copy paper.” Little notice may be given to weight, content, density, manufacturing process, or stability by the average paper user, but for the connoisseur these […]

Are Government Agencies Drowning in Data?

Recently Federal Computer Week featured an article entitled: Why agencies are drowning in data. The article was based on a recent survey by Semantic Corporation on effective big data strategies. The survey found that that the main reasons for agencies feeling overwhelmed were data governance and data security. I think, however, they were asking the wrong questions.

The government is currently producing and making available huge amounts of data. I agree that this data needs to be kept secure and managed so it can be made available to the appropriate users. However, I think the bigger question is who is taking the time to look at the data and what are they doing with the information. Take acquisition data, for instance. There are volumes of data about what the government is purchasing, who in the government is making the purchases and what they are buying. Government analysts could be asking questions like:

Are we getting the best price possible on specific commodities?
Does one agency negotiate better prices than other agencies?
Why don’t we all get those good prices?
Which contract vehicles are most cost effective?
Is lowest price always the best answer?
Do we get more returns on commercial items that were purchased due to lower prices?

The list could go on and on. The problem is that no one is really looking at the data — truly analyzing it. Analysis of this type is very common in the private sector as businesses try to understand where they fit in a marketplace and how to make their supply chain run more efficiently. Government employees do not look at themselves as running a business.  They are always looking for cheaper prices and more efficient business practices, but often do not have the […]

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