E-commerce Hardware and Software

E-commerce get depends on the vendor. In general the vendor maintains the equipment and software and sells them in standardized packages. Part of the package includes security and almost always a merchant account is also an option. Database access is sometimes a part of the package.

Topic: Ecommerce hardware and software

Presentation Transcript:

1. E-commerce hardware and software

2. Web servers The components of a web server are: Hardware Software When determining what sort of server hardware and software to use you have to consider: Size of the site Purpose of the site Traffic on the site A small, noncommercial Web site will require less resources than a large, commercial site.

3. The role of a web server Facilitates business Business to business transactions Business to customer transactions Hosts company applications Part of the communications infrastructure Poor decisions about web server platforms can have a negative impact on a company. This is particularly true for purely online (“click and mortar”) companies.

4. Hosting considerations Will the site be hosted in-house or by a provider? Factors to consider: The bandwidth and availability needed for the expected size, traffic, and sales of the site Scalability: If the Web site needs to grow or has a sudden increase in traffic, can the provider still handle it? Personnel requirements or restraints Budget and cost effectiveness of the solution Target audience: Business-to-customer (B2C) or business-to-business (B2B)

5. Types of Web sites Development sites: A test site; low-cost Intranets: Available internally only B2B and B2C commerce sites Content delivery site Each type of site has a different purpose, requires different hardware and software, and incurs varying costs.

6. Commerce sites Commerce sites must be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Requirements include: Reliable servers Backup servers for high availablity Efficient and easily upgraded software Security software Database connectivity B2B sites also require certificate servers to issue and analyze electronic authentication information.

7. Content delivery site Examples: USA Today New York Times ZDNet Sell and deliver content: news, summaries, histories, other digital information. Hardware requirements are similar to the commerce sites. Database access must be efficient.

8. What is Web hosting? Web hosts are Internet service providers who also allow access to: E-commerce software Storage space E-commerce expertise You can choose: Managed hosting: the service provider manages the operation and oversight of all servers Unmanaged hosting: the customer must maintain and oversee all servers

9. Benefits Cost effective for small companies or those without in-house technical staff. May require less investment in hardware/software. Can eliminate the need to hire and oversee technical personnel. Make sure that the site is scalable. If you need help in choosing a Web host, contact the Web Host Guild . Formed in 1998, it is a sort of Better Business Bureau of the Internet.

10. Services provided Access to hardware, software, personnel Domain name, IP address Disk storage Template pages to use for designing the site E-mail service Use of FTP to upload and download information Shopping cart software Multimedia extensions (sound, animation, movies) Secure credit card processing

11. Summary ISPs have Web hosting expertise that small or medium-sized companies may not. Creating and maintaining a Web site using an existing network can be difficult. With the exception of large companies with large Web sites and in-house computer experts, it is almost always cheaper to use outside Web hosting services.

12. Examples EZ Webhost Interland HostPro HostIndex Managed hosting Other hosting options TopHosts .com

13. B2C e-commerce Requirements: A catalog display Shopping cart capabilities Transaction processing Tools to populate the store catalog and to facilitate storefront display choices Any e-commerce software must be integrated with existing systems: Database Transaction processing software

14. Catalog display Small storefront (fewer than 35 items) Simple listing of products No particular organization Example: Quebec maple syrup Larger catalog Store product information in database More sophisticated navigation aids Better product organization Search engine Example: LL Bean

15. Shopping carts Early e-commerce shopping used forms-based check out methods . Required writing down product codes, unit prices, etc. A shopping cart: Keeps track of items selected Allows you to view the items in a cart Allows you to change quantities of items Because the Web is stateless, information must be stored for retrieval. One way to do this is to use cookies, bits of information stored on the client’s computer.

16. Transaction processing Usually performed with a secure connection. May require the calculation of: Sales tax Shipping costs Volume discounts Tax-free sales Special promotions Time sensitive offers Details about transactions must be tracked for accounting, sales reports.

17. B2B e-commerce Business-to-business e-commerce requires tools and capabilities different from those required for business- to-customer systems. Encryption Authentication Digital signatures Signed receipt notices The ability to connect to existing legacy systems, including Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software. ERP integrates all facets of a business including planning, sales, and marketing.

18. Levels of packages Three levels of e-commerce packages: Basic : Requires a few hundred dollars in fees and less than an hour to set up. Typically hosted by an ISP. Middle-tier : Ranges in price from $1K to $5K+, and can take from one day to several days to set up. Can connect with a database server. Requires hardware purchase and some skills. Enterprise-class : For large companies with high traffic and transaction volumes. Hardware and in-house specialists needed.

19. Basic packages Basic packages are free or low-cost e-commerce software supplied by a Web host for building sites to be placed on the Web host’s system. Fundamental services Banner advertising exchanges Full-service mall-style hosting

20. Fundamental services Available for businesses selling less than 50 items with a low rate of transactions. These services offer: Space for the store Forms-based shopping The Web host makes money from advertising banners placed on the site. Each business has some control over which banners are placed on its site. Examples: Bizland .com , HyperMart Drawbacks: E-mail transaction processing, banners.

21. Banner exchange sites Banner exchange sites aid online store promotion. Banner exchange agreements are made between sites that sign up for the service. The BES organizes the exchanges, enforces banner exchange rules, collects statistics about customers, and rotates ads on the sites. A click through count is the number of visitors that a banner produces at a site. Examples: Banner Exchange , Exchange-it , SmartClicks

22. Full-service mall-style hosting Full-service hosting sites provide: High-quality tools Storefront templates An easy-to-use interface Quick Web page creation and maintenance No required banner advertising In exchange these sites may charge: One-time set up fees Monthly fees A percentage of each transaction A fixed amount per each transaction

23. Differences from basic services Shopping cart software Comprehensive customer transaction processing Choice of purchase options (credit card, electronic cash or other forms) Acceptance and authorization of credit cards No required (and distracting) Web banner ads Higher quality Web store building/maintenance tools (saving time and energy) Examples: Yahoo!Store , BigStep .com

24. Midrange packages Distinction from basic e-commerce packages: The merchant has explicit control over Merchandising choices Site layout Internal architecture Remote and local management options Other differences include price, capability, database connectivity, software portability, software customization tools, computer expertise required of the merchant.

25. Features Prices range from $2000 to $9000. Hosted on the merchant’s server. Typically has connectivity with complex database systems and stores catalog information. Several provide connections (“hooks”) into existing inventory and ERP systems. Highly customizable Requires part-time or full-time programming talent. Examples: INTERSHOP efinity , WebSphere Commerce Suite

26. Enterprise solutions Distinguishing features: Price ($25,000 – $1 million) Extensive support for B2B e-commerce Interacts with a variety of back office systems, such as database, accounting, and ERP. Requires one or more dedicated computers, a Web front-end, firewall(s), a DNS server, an SMTP system, an HTTP server, an FTP server, and a database server.

27. Features Good tools for linking supply and purchasing. Can interact with the inventory system to make the proper adjustments to stock, issue purchase orders, and generate accounting entries. Example: Wal-Mart Allows several suppliers to make decisions about resupplying Results in cost savings in inventory Examples: WebSphere Commerce Suite , Netscape CommerceXpert

28. Web platform choices Hardware, operating system, and application server software must be considered together since each affects the other. Whatever your choice you must ensure that the server hardware is scalable, meaning that it can be upgraded or a new server added as necessary. Other needs, such as a database server, should be handled by separate hardware. Database products have large processing needs.

29. Factors in performance Hardware and operating system choice Speed of connection to the Internet User capacity Throughput : The number of HTTP requests that can be processed in a given time period. Response time : The amount of time a server requires to process one request. The mix and type of Web pages Static pages Dynamic pages: Shaped in response to users.

30. Benchmarking Benchmarking is testing used to compare the performance of hardware and software. Results measure the performance of aspects such as the OS, software, network speed, CPU speed. There are several Web benchmarking programs. For examples see Figure 3-4 on page 87. Anyone considering buying a server for a heavy traffic situation or wanting to make changes to an existing system should consider benchmarks.

31. Web server features Web server features range from basic to extensive depending on the software package being used. Web server features fall into groups based on their purpose: Core capabilities Site management Application construction Dynamic content Electronic commerce

32. Core capabilities Process and respond to Web client requests Static pages, dynamic pages, domain name translation. Security Name/passwords, processing certificates and public/private key pairs. FTP, Gopher Searching, indexing Data analysis Who, what, when, how long? May involve the use of Web log analysis software.

33. Site management Features found in site management tools: Link checking Script checking HTML validation Web server log file analysis Remote server administration

34. Application construction Uses Web editors and extensions to produce Web pages, both static and dynamic. Like HTML editors, application editors allow the creation dynamic features without knowledge of CGI (Common Gateway Interface) or API (Application Program Interface) programming. Also detects HTML code that differs from the standard or is browser specific.

35. Dynamic content Non-static information constructed in response to to a Web client’s request. Assembled from backend databases and internal data on the Web site, a successful dynamic page is tailored to the query that generated it. Active Server Pages (ASP) is a server-side scripting mechanism to build dynamic sites and Web applications. It uses a variety of languages such as VBScript, Jscript, and Perl. More information? Take ECT 353!

36. Electronic commerce An Web server handles Web pages whereas an e-commerce server deals with the buying and selling of goods and services. A Web server should handle e-commerce software since this simplifies adding e-commerce features to existing sites. Features: Creation of graphics, product information, addition of new products, shopping carts, credit card processing, sales report generation, Web ad rotation and weighting.

37. Web server software There is no best package for all cases. The market is divided into intranet servers and public Web servers. Three of the most popular Web server programs: Apache HTTP Server Microsoft Internet Information Server Netscape Enterprise Server See Figure 3-8 for the market share graph. A more recent market share analysis .

38. Apache HTTP Server Developed by Rob McCool while at UI in the NCSA in 1994. The software is available free of charge and is quite efficient. Can be used for intranets and public Web sites. Originally written for Unix, it is now available for many operating systems. For a discussion of its features see the Apache Software Foundation page .

39. Microsoft IIS Microsoft’s Internet Information Server comes bundled with Microsoft’s Windows NT/2000. Can be used for intranets and public Web sites. It is suitable for everything from small sites to large enterprise-class sites with high volumes. Currently only runs on Windows NT/2000. See Microsoft’s Web Services page .

40. Netscape Enterprise Server Costs several thousand dollars and has a 60-day trial period. Can be run on the Internet, intranets and extranets. Some of the busiest sites on the Internet use NES including E*Trade, Excite, and Lycos. Runs on many different operating systems. See Netscape Server Products .

41. Further information What Web software is running on a site? Web server side-by-side comparisons

42. Web server tools Other Web server tools include: Web portals Search engines Push technologies Intelligent agents

43. Web portals Provides a “cyber door” on the Web Serves as a customizable home base Successful portals include: Excite Yahoo! My Netscape Microsoft Passport

44. Push technologies An automated delivery of specific and current information from a Web server to the user’s hard drive May be used to provide information on: Health benefit updates Employee awards Changes in corporate policies

45. Intelligent agents A program that performs functions such as information gathering, information filtering, or mediation on behalf of a person or entity Examples: AuctionBot BargainFinder MySimon Kasbah

46. Example uses Example uses for intelligent agents: Search for the best price and characteristics of various products Procurement: Deciding what, when, and how much to purchase Stock alert: Monitors stock and notifies when certain conditions are met, e.g. purchase 100 shares if the price is below $60 a share.