This unit examines the type of system which is described by the umbrella term ‘e-commerce’. A number of typical application areas are examined including retailing using the internet, supply chain management and online auctions. The unit also looks at some of the underlying technologies used to implement e-commerce applications, for example web technology. The final part of the unit looks at some of the problems which are encountered when developing distributed e-commerce systems, for example problems in ensuring that a system is kept secure from criminal activity. It concludes with an examination of a typical retailing system, how some of the technologies fit together and business models used in the internet.


Anonymous remailer, B2B exchange, browser, checkout page, common gateway interface, cookie, day trading, denial of service attack, design pattern, disintermediation, distributed objects, dynamic pages, dynamic pricing, e-auction, e-learning, email server, e-mall, e-procurement, e-shop, e-tailing, file transfer protocol, framework, horizontal portal, hyperlink, hypertext mailer, Hypertext Markup Language, information brokerage, Java, online trading, portal, posting, procurement, query, rapid application development, search engine, Secure Sockets Layers, Server Side Includes, Servlet, shopping cart, spam, spider, stateless server, supply chain, third party marketplace, thread, trust brokerage, vertical portal, virtual community. web page, web server, website, webmaster.

Learning Outcomes

Having studied this unit you should be able to:

  • detail what is meant by the term ‘e-commerce’;
  • examine some typical distributed applications;
  • detail some of the problems that are encountered when developing distributed applications;
  • describe briefly some of the technologies that are used to support distributed applications;
  • show how some of the technologies detailed in the unit are used in concert to realise a typical commercial system;
  • describe some of the business models used in the internet.