3 E-commerce applications

3.2 E-tailing

The next example is probably the one that you expected me to introduce first: that of selling goods over the internet. However, I deliberately introduced supply chain management first since it is an area where companies are making huge savings in their investment in internet technology. The investments in retailing using the internet (e-tailing) are only gradually being realised.

The archetypal e-tailing application is that of a bookseller such as Amazon. This company is renowned for the fact that it only sells books over the internet and doesn't even take telephone orders. It has one of the best organised websites and is continually referred to by journalists as an e-commerce success story.

Customers of Amazon interact with its website and carry out a number of functions including:

Behind the scenes of the Amazon site are a number of conventional functions which are found in all retailing applications, these include:

Most of these functions would be associated with any bookseller, irrespective of whether they use the internet or not.

Another myth about e-commerce

One of the myths about e-commerce is that the development of e-commerce systems is radically different from other commercial systems. I would say that it is somewhat different in that you have to worry about many of the problems that occur with distributing processing in a network; however, many of the functions required in the majority of e-commerce systems can be found in their conventional counterparts. Indeed, many e-commerce systems which are fronted by web servers still contain computers which were common ten years ago and are programmed in languages such as COBOL and C – languages which are not automatically associated with internet software development. Much of the analyses required for an e-commerce system are the same that you would carry out for a conventional system and also quite a lot of the design; however, they do differ in that the design of such systems is a lot trickier, for example to guarantee response times from a collection of computers communicating over the internet is a tough task.