Final Project

Building an e.commerce website

Shabina Muzammal 723-FMS/BBAIT/F09

International Islamic university islamabad

Building an E-Commerce Web Site
Building a successful e-commerce site requires a keen understanding of business, technology & social issues, as well as a systematic approach. E-commerce is just too important to be left totally to

technologists & programmers. The two important management challenges in building a successful e-commerce site are (1)Developing a clear understanding of your business objectives (2) Knowing how to choose the right technology to achieve those objectives The first challenge requires you to build a plan for developing your firm’s site. The second challenge requires you to understand some of the basic elements of e-commerce

infrastructure. Even if you decide to outsource the entire e-commerce site development & operation to a service provider, you will still need to have a site development plan & some understanding of the basic ecommerce infrastructure issues such as cost, capability & constraints. Without a plan & a knowledge base, you will not be able to make sound management decisions about e-commerce within your firm. PIECES OF THE SITE-BUILDING PUZZLE First step is to must be aware of the main areas where you will need to make decision. On the organizational & human resources fronts, you will have to bring together a team of individuals who possess the skills sets needed to build & manage a successful ecommerce site. This team will make the key decision about technology, site design, & the social & information polices that will be applied at your site. The entire site development efforts must be closely managed if you help to avoid the disasters that have occurred at some firms. You will need to make decision about your site’s hardware, soft ware, & telecommunication infrastructure. While you will have technical advisors help you make these decisions, ultimately the operation of the site is your own responsibility. The demands of your customers should drive your

Choices of technology. Your customers will want technology that enables them to find what they want easily, view the product, purchase the product, & then receive the product from your warehouses quickly. You will also have to carefully consider your site’s design .Once you have identified the key decision areas, you will need to think about a plan for the project. PLANNING: THE SYSTEMS DEVELOPMENT LIFE CYCLE Your second step in building an e-commerce site will be creating a plan document. In order to tackle a complex problem such as building an e-commerce site, you will have to proceed systematically through a series of steps. One methodology for developing an e-commerce site plan is the systems development life cycle. The system development life cycle (SDLC) is the methodology for understanding the business objectives of any system & designing an appropriate solution. Adopting a life cycle methodology does not guarantee success, but it is far better than having no plan at all. The SDLC method also helps in creating documents that communicate to senior management the objectives of the site, important milestones, & the uses of resources. The five major steps involved in the systems development life cycle for an e-commerce site are: System Analysis/Planning System Design Building the system Testing Implementation

SYSTEM ANALYSIS/PLANNING: IDENTIFY BUSINESS OBJECTIVES, SYSTEM FUNCTIONALITY, & INFORMATION REQUIREMENTS The system analysis/planning step of the SDLC tries to answer the question, “What do we want the commerce site to do for our business?”Here we will assume that you have identified a business strategy & chosen a business model to achieve your strategies objectives but do you translate your strategies, business models, & ideas into a working E-commerce site?

One way to start is to identify the specific business objectives for your site, & then develop a list of system functionalities & information requirements. Business Objectives are simply a list of capabilities you want your site to have. System Functionalities are a list of the types of information systems capabilities you will need to achieve your business objectives. The Information requirements for a system are the information elements that the system must produce in order to achieve the business objectives. You will need to provide these lists to system developers 7 programmers so they know what you as the manager expect them to do. Table1.1describes some basic business objectives, system functionalities, & information requirements for a typical e-commerce site. As shown in the table, there are nine basic business objectives that an e-commerce site must deliver. These objectives must be translated in to description of system functionalities & ultimately into a set of precise information requirements. The specific information requirements for a system typically are defined in much greater detail than Table1.1 indicates. To large extent, the business objectives of an e-commerce site are not that different from those of an ordinary retail store. The real difference lies in the system functionalities & information requirements. In an e-commerce site, the business objectives must be provided entirely in digital from without buildings or sales people, twenty-four a day, seven days a week. SYSTEM DESIGN: HARDWARE & SOFTWARE PLATFORMS Once you have identified the business objectives & system functionalities, & have developed a list of precise information requirements, you can begin to consider just how all this functionality will be delivered.

System

Analysis:

Business

Objectives,

System

Functionality,

&

Information Requirements for a typical E-commerce Site Business Objectives Display Goods graphics catalog Provide product description, Information(contents) tracking stocking Customer on-site Production System Functionality Digital catalog Information Requirements Dynamic text &

numbers Personalize/customize Product Execute a transaction clearing Payment Accumulate customer registraInformation Provide after-sale product, Customer support payment,shipment Ad banner manager Coordinate marketing Understand marketing visitors, Effectiveness purchased, ident-ified by marketing campProvide production Inventory management -aign system product Site tracking & reporting number of unique date email, campaign manager, date, Ad server, email server, -tion Customer ID, Sales Database online customer Shopping cart/payment system Customer Database Site log for every customer visit secure credit card

SYSTEM DESIGN: HARDWARE & SOFTWARE PLATFORMS Once you have identified the business objectives & system functionalities, & have developed a list of precise information requirements, you can begin to consider just how all this functionality will be delivered. You must come up with a system design specification _ a description of the main

components in the system 7 their relationship to one another. The system design itself can be broken into two components: a logical design & a physical design. A logical design includes a data flow diagram that describes the flow of information at your e-commerce site, the processing functions that must be performed, & the data base that will be used. A physical design translates the logical design into physical components. For instance, the physical design details the specific model server to be purchased, the software to be used, the size of telecommunications link that will be required & so on. BUILDING THE SYSTEM: IN-HOUSE VERSUS OUTSOURCING Outsourcing means that you will hire an outside vendor to provide the service involved in building the

site that you can’t perform with in-house personnel. You also have a second decision to make: Will you host (operate) the site on your firm’s own servers or you will outsource the hosting to a web host provider? These decisions are independent of each other, but they are usually considered at the same time. These are the some vendor design, build, & host your site, while others will either build or host (but not both). TESTING THE SYSTEM Once the system has been built & programmed, you will have to engage in a tasting process. Depending on the size of the system, this could be fairly difficult & lengthy. Testing is required whether the system is outsourced or built in-house. A complex e-commerce site can have thousands of pathways through the site, each of which must be documented & then tested. Unit test involves testing the site’s modules one at a time .System testing involves testing the site as a whole, in the same way a typical user would when using the site. Final acceptance testing requires the firm’s key personnel & manager in marketing, production, sales, & general management actually use the system as installed on a test internet or intranet server. It verifies that the business objectives of the system as originally conceived are in fact working.

IMPLEMENTATION & MAINTAINANCE In the beginning of the process is over, the operation life of a system is just beginning. System breakdown for a variety of reasons-most of them are predictable. Therefore, they need continual checking, testing, & repair. System maintenance is vital, but sometimes not budgeted for. In general, the annual system maintenance cost will roughly parallel the development cost. A $40,000 e-commerce site will likely require a $ 40,000 annual expenditure to maintain. Very large e-commerce sites experience some economies of scale, so that, for example, a $1 million site will likely require a maintenance budget of $500,000 to $700,000.E-commerce sites are never finished: they are always in process of being built & rebuilt. They are dynamic_ much more so than payroll system. The long term success of an ecommerce site will depends on a dedicated team of employees (the Web team) whose sole job is to monitor & adapt the site to changing market conditions. The Web team must be multi skilled; it includes programmers, designers, & business managers drawn from marketing, production, & sale support. There are multi tasks of Web team but the most important task includes bench marketing (a process in which the site is compared with those of competitors in terms of response speed, quality of layout, & design) & keeping the current on pricing & promotions. The Web is a competitive environment where you can very rapidly frustrate & lose customers with a dysfunctional site.

CHOOSING THE SERVER SOFTWARE

The more sophisticated the software & more ways you can sell goods & services, the more effective your business will be. This section describes the software needed to operate a contemporary ecommerce site. SAMPLE VERSUS MULTI-TIERED WEB SITE ARCHITECHTURE Prior to the development of e-commerce, web sites simply delivered Web pages to users who were making requests through their browsers for HTML pages with content of various sorts. Web site software was appropriately quite simple_ it consisted of a server computer running basic Web server software. We might call this arrangement single-tier system architecture. System architecture refers to the arrangements of software, machinery, & tasks in an information system needed to achieve a specific

functionality (much like a home’s architecture refers to the arrangements of building materials to achieve a particular functionality). WEB SERVER SOFTWARE All e-commerce sites require basic Web server software to answer requests from customers for HTML & XML pages. The leading Web server software choices are shown in Figure below.

KEY PLAYERS IN WEB SERVER SOFTWARE
5.00% 6.50%

19%

1st Qtr 2nd Qtr 3rd Qtr 4th Qtr 74%

When you choose Web server software, you will also be choosing an operating system for your site’s computers. Looking at all servers on the Web server software, with 74% of the market, is Apache, which works with Linux & UNIX operating systems. UNIX is the original programming of the Internet & Web, & Linux is a derivative of UNIX designed for the personal computer. Apeche is free & can be downloaded from many sites on the Web; it also comes installed on most IBM Web servers. Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS) is the second major Web server software available, albeit a distant second to Apache, with about 19% of the market.IIS is based on the Windows operating system & is compatible with a wide selection of Microsoft utility & support programs. These numbers are different among the Fortune 1000 firms (55% if which use Microsoft IIS), & different again if you include blogs which are served up by Microsoft & Google at their own proprietary sites.

BASIC FUNCTIONALITY PROVIDED BY WEB SERVERS FUNCTIONALITY Processing of HTTP requests DESCRIPTION Receives & respond to client requests for HTML pages. Security services(Secure Sockets Layer) Verify username & password; process certificates & private/public key information required for cre-dit card processing & other secure information. File Transfer Protocol Permits transfer of very large files from server to Server. Search Engine Indexing of site content; keyword search capability

Data capture

Log file of all visits, time, duration, & referral source

E-mail

Ability to send, receive, & store e-mail messages

Site management tools

Calculate & display key site statistics, such as uni-que visitors, pages requests, & origin of requests ; check links on pages.

SITE MANAGEMENT TOOLS SITE MANAGEMENT TOOLS are essential if you want to keep your own site working, & if you want to understand how well it is working. Site management tools verify that links on pages are still valid & also identify orphan files, or files on the site that are not linked to any page. By surveying the links on the Web site, a site management tool can quickly report on potential problems & errors that users may encounter. Links to URLs that have moved or been deleted are called dead links; these can cause error messages for users trying to access that link. Site management tools can help you understand consumer behavior on your Web site. Site management soft ware & services, such as those provided by Web Trends, can be purchased in order to

more effectively monitor customer purchases & marketing campaign effectiveness, as well as keep track of standard hit counts & page visit information. DYNAMIC PAGE GENERATION TOOLS With Dynamic page generation, the contents of a Web page are stored as objects in a database, rather than being hard-coded in HTML. When the user requests a web page, the contents for the page are then fetched from database. The objects are retrieved from the database using CGI (Common Gateway interface), ASP(Active Server Pages), JSP & ASP . A standard data access method called Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) makes it possible to access any data from any application regardless of what database is used. ODBC is supported by most of the large database suppliers such as Oracle, Sybase, & IBM.ODBC makes it possible for HTML pages to be linked to backend corporate database regardless of who manufactured the database. Dynamic page generation gives e-commerce several significant capabilities that generate cost & profitability advantages over traditional commerce. Dynamic page generation lowers menu costs ( the costs incurred by merchants for changing product description & prices ). APPLICATION SERVERS Web application servers are the software programs that provide the specific business functionality required of a web site. The basic idea of application servers is to isolate the business application from the details of displaying Web pages to users on the back end. Application servers are the kind of middleware software that provides the glue connecting traditional corporate systems to the customer as well as all the functionality needed to conduct e-commerce. These specific programs are being replaced by integrated software tools that combine all the needed functionality for an e-commerce site into a single development environment, a packaged software approach. E-COMMERCE MERCHANT SERVER SOFTWARE FUNCTIONALITY E-commerce merchant server software provides the basic functionality needed for online sales, including an online catalog, order taking via an online shopping credit card processing. Online catalog is a list of product available on a Web site. Merchant server software typically includes a database capability that will allow for construction of a customized online catalog. Small companies, or companies with small product lines, may post a simple list with text descriptions & perhaps color

photos. A larger site might decide to add sound, animation, or videos to the catalog, such as customer service representatives available via instant messaging to answer questions. Today, larger firms make extensive use of streaming videos. Online Shopping carts allow shoppers to set aside desired purchases in preparation for checkout, review what they have selected, edit their selections as necessary, & then actually make the purchases by clicking a button. Merchant Service Software Packages (e-commerce suites) offers an integrated environment that provides most or all of the functionality & capabilities needed to develop a sophisticated, customercentric site .Basic packages for elementary e-commerce business are provided by Bizland, Hypermart, & Yahoo! Small business merchant solutions.Freeweb.com also offers Web building tools & hosting services. PayPal can be used as a payment system on simple Website, & widgets can add interesting capabilities.

CHOOSING THE HARDWARE FOR AN E-COMMERCE SUITE

As the in charge of building an e-commerce site, you will be held accountable for its performance. Whether you host your own site or outsource the hosting & operation of your site, you will need to understand certain aspects of the computing hardware platform. The hardware platform refers to underlying computing equipment that the system uses to achieve its e-commerce functionality. Your objective is to have enough platform capacity to meet peak demand but not so much platform that you are wasting money. Failing to meet peak demand can mean you’re your site is slow, or actually crashes. The Website may be your only or principal source of cash flow. OPEN SOURCE SOFTWARE OPTIONS MERCHANT SERVER FUNCTIONALITY Web server, online catalog Apache (the leading Web server for small & medium busin-ess.) Shopping cart Many providers: ZenCart.com;AgoraCart.com;X-Cart.com; OPEN SOURCE SOFTWARE

OSCommerce.com Credit card processing Many providers: Echo Internet Gateway; ASPDotNetStore-front, Credit card acceptance is typically provided in sho-pping cart software but you need a merchant account from a bank as well. Database MySQL ( the leading open source SQL database for busi-ness. Programming/scripting Language PHP ( a scripting language embedded in HTML docume-nts but executed by the server providing server-side Execution with the simplicity of HTML editing). PERL is an alternative language. JavaScript programs are client side programs that provide user interface components. Analytics Analytics keep track of your site’s customer activities & the success of your Web advertising campaign. You can also use Google Analytics if you advertise on Google, which provides good tracking tools; most hosting Services will provide these services as well.

RIGHT-SIZING YOUR HARDWARE PLATFORM: THE DEMAND SIDE

The most important factor affecting the speed of your site is the demand that customer put on that site. Demand on a website is fairly complex & depends primarily on the type of site your are operating. The number of simultaneous users in peak periods, the nature of inventory, the number of page requests, & the speed of legacy applications that may be needed to supply data to Web pages are all important factors in overall on a Website system. Certainly, one important factor to consider is the number of simultaneous users who will likely visit your site. I n general, the load created by an individual customer on a server is typically quite limited & short-lived. A Web session initiated by the typical user is stateless, meaning that a server does not have to maintain an ongoing, dedicated interaction with the client. A Web session typically begins with a page request, then a server replies, & the session is ended. The session may last from tenths of a second per user, to a minute. Nevertheless, system performance does degrade as more & more simultaneous user request service. Fortunately, degradation (measured as

“transaction per second” & “latency” or delay in response) is fairly graceful over a wide range, up until a peak load is reached & service quality becomes unacceptable. Serving up static Web page is I/O intensive, which means it requires input/output operation rather than heavy-duty processing power. As a result, Website performance is constrained primarily by the server’s I/O limitations & the telecommunications connection, rather than speed of the processor. There are some steps you can take to make sure that you stay within an acceptable service quality. One step is to simply purchase a server with faster CPU improvement that results is not linear & at some point becomes cost-ineffective. The second step is to consider on the demand side is the user profile, which refers to the nature of customer requests & customer behavior on your site. Web servers can be very efficient at serving static Web page. The nature of the content your site effort is the third step to consider. If your site uses dynamic page generation, then the load on the processor rises rapidly & performance will grade. Dynamic page generation & business logic are CPU-intensive operations-they require a great deal of processing power. A final step to consider is the telecommunication link that your site has to the Web, & also the changing nature of the client connection to the Web. RIGHT-SIZING YOUR HARDWARE PLATFORM:THE SUPPLY SIDE Once you estimate the likely demand on your site, you will need to consider how to scale up your site to meet demand. Scalability refers to the ability of a site to increase in size as demand warrants. There are three steps you can take to meet the demands for service at your site: scale hardware horizontally, &/or improve the processing architecture of the site. Vertically scaling refers to increasing the processing

power of individual components.

Horizontal scaling refers to employing multiple computers to share the workload & increase the “foot

point” of the installation. There are two drawbacks to vertical scaling. First, it can become expensive to purchase new computers with every growth cycle, & second, your entire site becomes dependent on a small number of very powerful computers. If you have two such computers & one goes down, half of your site, or perhaps your entire site, may become unavailable. Horizontal scaling involves adding multiple single-processor servers to your site & balancing the load among the server. You can also then partition the load so that some servers handle only requests for HTML or ASP pages, while others are dedicated to handling database applications. You will need special load-balancing software to incoming requests to various servers. There are many advantages to horizontal scaling. It is expensive & often can be accomplished using older PCs that otherwise would be disposed of. Horizontal computer also introduces redundancy_ if one computer fails, chances are that another computer can pick up the load dynamically. However, when your site grows from a single computer to perhaps 10 to 20 computers, the size of the physical facility required processing architecture_ is a combination of vertical & horizontal scaling, combined with artful design decision. Some of the more common steps you can take to greatly improve performance of your site. More of these steps involve splitting the workload into I/O-intensive activities & CPU-intensive activities. Once you can fine-tune the servers for each type of load. One of the least expensive fine-tuning steps is to simply add RAM to a few servers & store all your HTML pages in RAM. This reduces the load on your hard drives & increases speed dramatically. RAM is thousands of times faster than hard disks, & RAM is inexpensive. The next most important step is to move your CPU-intensive activities, such as order taking, onto a high end, multiple processor servers that is totally dedicated to handling orders & accessing the necessary databases. Taking these steps can permit you to reduce the number of servers required to service 10,000 concurrent users from 100 down to 20, according to one estimate.

OTHER E-COMMERCE SITE TOOLS Now, you will need a coherent Web site design effort that makes business sense_ not necessarily a site to wow visitors or excite them, but to sell them something. You will also need to know how to build active content & interactivity into your site_ not just displays static HTML pages. You will definitely want to be able to track customers who come, leave, & return to your site in order to be able to greet return visitors. You will also want to track customers throughout your site so you can personalize & customize their experience. Finally, you will need to establish a set of information policies for your site- privacy, accessibility, & access to information policies. In order to achieve these business capabilities, you will need to be aware of some design guidelines & additional software tools that can cost –effectively achieve the required business functionality. IMPROVING THE PROCESSING ARCHITECTURE OF YOUR SITE ARCHITECTURE IMPROVEMENT Separate static content from Dynamic content DESCRIPTION Use specialized servers for each type of workload.

Cache static content

Increase RAM to the gigabyte range & store static Content in RAM.

Cache database lookup tables

Cache tables used to lookup database records.

Consolidate business logic on Dedicated servers

Put shopping cart processing & other CPU-intensive activity on dedicated servers.

TOOLS FOR INTERACTIVITY AN ACTIVE CONTENT As a manger responsible for building a Web site, you will want to ensure that users can interact with your Web site quickly & easily. Here is a brief description of some commonly used software tools for achieving high levels of site interactivity. Bling for your Blog: Web 2.0 Design Elements

It is an easy way to pump up the energy on your Web site is to include some appropriate widgets. Widgets are small chunks of code that execute automatically in your HTML Web page. They are pre-built & many are free. Millions of social network & blog pages use widgets to present users with content drawn from around the Web. You can copy the code to an HTML web page. A good place to start is Google Gadgets & Yahoo Widgets. Common Gateway Interface (CGI) It is a set of standards for communication between user & the server. CGI permits an executable program to access all the information required to make up the return page ( the HTML, script code, text etc.) & sends back to the client via the Web server. Active Server Pages (ASP) It is Microsoft’s version of server-side programming for Window. Invented by Microsoft in late 1996, ASP has grown rapidly to become the major technique for server-side Web programming in the Windows environment. Java, Java Server Pages (JSP), & JavaScript Java is programming language that allows programmers to create interactivity & active content on the client computer, thereby saving considerable load on the server. JavaScript Pages like CGI & ASP is a web page coding standard that allows developers to dynamically generate Web pages in response to user requests. JavaScript is a programming language invented by Netscape that is used to control the objects on an HTML page & handle interactions with the browser. Active X & VBScript Active X is a programming language created by Microsoft to compete with Java. VBScript is a programming language invented by Microsoft to compete with JavaScript. THE INFORMATION POLICY SET In developing an e-commerce site, you will also need to focus on the set of information policies that will govern the site. You will need to develop a privacy policy-a set of public statements declaring to your

customers how you treat their personal information that you gather on the site. You will also need to establish accessibility rules-a set of design objectives that ensure disabled users can effectively access your site. There are more than 50 million Americans who are disabled & required special access routes to building as well as computer system. Refrences: http//www.wikipedia.com http//www.rei.com Book: e-commerce 4/e written by Kenneth c. laudon & Carol Guercio Traver

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