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E-Commerce applications

 E-Commerce is a massive growth area, were colossal sums of money are being made and spent every day. This is largely to do with the hype of the Internet and on-line shopping. The Internet is growing exponentially, and will continue to grow for some time to come. This, coupled with good advertising, can provide a solid foundation from which to launch a stake in the Internet and e-commerce boom.

 E-commerce is big business. The fact that people want it is probably the biggest lure for companies to jump onto the bandwagon, but there are other factors, making e-commerce a good sense solution.

 - Lower transaction costs. If the site is implemented well, the web can significantly lower order taking costs and customer service costs after the sale by automated processes.

- Variety for shoppers: It gives people the opportunity to shop in different ways.

 - The ability to build an order over several days

 - The ability to configure products and see actual prices

 - The ability to compare prices between multiple vendors

 - The ability to search large catalogues easily

 

- Larger catalogues: On the web, a company can display their entire range. If they were to print a glossy catalogue to do the same job, it would be too big. E.G. Amazon sells 3 million books. Imagine trying to fit all their available books into a paper catalogue. The Web cuts out printing cost and distribution.

 

- Global availability: Anyone with an Internet connection, in any part of the world can access online services, without costing the company a penny, over and above the marketing costs. This ubiquitous presence is far greater reaching than a catalogue drop.

 

- New business model: E-commerce allows people to create completely new business models. A mail order company has high costs for staff and catalogue printing & distribution. However in e-commerce these costs fall practically to zero.

 

There are several ways in which to implement an e-commerce application. Consider the following.

 

Out of the Box / Server-Based

 Out-of-the-box is an ideal that eliminates, or at least reduces time consuming and complex e-commerce site building, by providing all of the various functions of an e-commerce solution from one source. Out-of-the-box is an “instant” low price solution requiring minimal IT recourses for implementation and operation. It is has a “Lego” mentality by shielding the user from heavily involved technical programming and scripting etc, simply by assembling the various software components into an established framework. This is done using a GUI interface, where the developer moves the software objects around analogous to the child with Lego bricks, snapping them into place, and building a functional entity.

Microsoft’s Commerce Server 2000 provides a comprehensive set of features to let developers quickly build scalable, user-centric, business-to-consumer and business-to-business e-commerce sites. Commerce Server 2000 offers robust and easy-to-implement functionality that makes it the ideal solution for building e-commerce applications. Its features include the following:

 

Development Tools - Commerce Server 2000 gives developers the power to quickly build and deploy effective e-commerce sites. Developers get a fast start with a choice of two starter applications that provide comprehensive e-commerce functionality. - Personalisation, merchandising, catalogue search, customer service, and business analytics. - Secure user authentication and group access permissions, purchase order and requisition handling. - Built-in, online auction capabilities. - Speed up and simplify development efforts with code samples and in-depth documentation.

 

Administrative Tools - simplify and centralise administrative tasks such as site configuration, deployment, operations and maintenance, reducing cost of ownership, and increasing application availability.

 

Partners – Microsoft in partnership with independent software vendors, ensure the highest availability and quality possible for solutions, including credit card validation, taxation, shipping and handling and content management.

 

Profile System - helps you manage information about millions of users and groups of users. In addition, it establishes secure authentication of site to ensure users have access to authorised areas of your site. You also serve users custom content, such as special pricing or products, based on the user's profile.

 

Targeting System - enables one-to-one marketing, determining the most appropriate content (ads, discounts, up-sells, cross-sells, catalogue data, and more) to provide to a given user in a given context, based on explicit user preferences. There are many more features in Commerce Server 2000. For more information, visit Microsoft’s web site at http://www.microsoft.com/commerceserver/default.asp The price of this solution is around £6000 with the same being paid again for each licence required. Licensing is calculated on a per per-CPU basis. In other words, if the server machine running Commerce 2000 has 4 CPUs, then expect to pay £24000 for your solution!

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