Adjust After Feedback
Several ABD staff are trained to teach licensees about using the system, while a tutorial is available through both the ABD main website and the web portal.
As more retailers (which are privately owned in Iowa) have used the portal, the division has received customer feedback. The state has already utilized these suggestions to upgrade the website significantly.
The first of these changes was to add a “shopping cart.” This function allows customers to save products online that they were interested in purchasing, rather than losing that info every time they exit the website.
Another feature added post-launch was a “will call” button. Some retailers travel to the division to pick up purchases. Even after the portal went live, they had to manually send in these orders. An online method to do so had not been included. Alerted to this flaw, Iowa corrected it.
Iowa also found that larger stores with the most SKUs were not properly utilizing the website. With such a large number of products, it was more work to type them all into the portal than to mail in the list as an Excel spreadsheet. So the division again adjusted their website, allowing it to accept and then process Excel files into high-volume orders.
“If we can help retailers create better business models by increasing efficiency, then they will see the advantage to using our portal,” says Project Manager Anita Volk.
The Missing Piece
Volk was brought in by the Iowa ABD during the portal’s development to guide the project across the finish line. Complicating matters was the mandate to build the portal within tight financial constraints. As a state department in Iowa, the ABD was limited by a strict budget.
The division had started the work, with the help of a third-party vendor. “We knew what we wanted, but we didn’t know exactly how to go about it,” Iversen remembers.
Volk joined in October of 2013. “The shell of the website was there,” she recalls, “but it was lacking the proper functionality.” She escalated the portal’s growth, increased teamwork, and brought together a number of projects, Iversen says.
The results of all that work speak for themselves. And the final product fits Larson’s original vision, directing more business onto the virtual highway.
The state is gradually shifting more orders onto the portal. Any new licensees added after July 1 must use the portal, and the same goes for existing licensees renewing on or after September 1.
This means that a licensee is not required to use the
portal until it renews, which could be as late as August 31, 2016. “We wanted to make sure that we were not disrupting someone’s business model,” Larson says.
Once a business does begin using the portal, they’ll very likely see that it’s no disruption, but a great source of efficiency using modern technology.