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Fundamentals of Ecommerce Development

March 30, 2021

The term eCommerce development could refer to the establishment of eCommerce infrastructure involving the technical elements (Internet, extranets, the World Wide Web), the standards that are used to enable electronic communications (TCP/IP, EDI) and publishing (HTML, XML), the hosting services provided by external parties, the potentiality of the best eCommerce platforms (mobile phones, interactive digital TV), and so on. 

Talking about eCommerce development from the management’s perspective, we can’t help but deal with the very high-level questions such as: Which type of e-commerce applications do we need to develop (supply chain management, e-procurement, secure online ordering, or customer relationship management)? Which technologies should we use (email, web-based ordering, or EDI)? Where do we host eCommerce applications, internal or external sourcing and hosting? Which access platforms do we support (mobile access, interactive digital TV)? Which development technologies and standards do we use? How do we publish and manage content and data quality? How do we secure data? What is the typical eCommerce development process?

Such questions demand a lengthy discussion with eCommerce development experts from an eCommerce development agency. In this article, we will only break down the fundamental components of adequate e-commerce infrastructure. Hopefully, with it, you will be equipped with basic technical jargon and concepts to talk with a third-party supplier of hardware, software, and services. 

Ecommerce infrastructure components

E-commerce infrastructure could be defined as the architecture of hardware, software, content, and data used to deliver e-business services to customers and business partners. It directly affects the quality of service experienced by your customers in terms of speed and responsiveness. It is necessary for us to conceive of eCommerce infrastructure components as infrastructure layers with defined interfaces between each layer. And they should be considered in relation to a typical task performed by a user of an e-business system.

A five-layer model of e-business infrastructure
A five-layer model of e-business infrastructure

The above graph presents the five layers of eCommerce infrastructure:

  1. E-business services – applications layer (i.e., CRM, supply chain management, data mining, content management systems)
  2. Systems software layer (Web browser and server software and standards, networking software and database management systems)
  3. Transport or network layer (Physical network and transport standards – TCP/IP).
  4. Storage/physical layer (permanent magnetic storage on web servers or optical backup or temporary storage in memory – RAM)
  5. Content and data layer (web content for extranet and Internet sites, customers’ data, transaction data, clickstream data)

In the following sections, we will go through the technologies that are widely used in eCommerce development.

Internet technology 

The Internet enables communications between millions of connected computers worldwide. And because all the data transfers on the Internet works through the request-response mechanism between client computers/mobile devices and server computers, we can say that the Internet is a large-scale client/server system.

Your customers’ computers are normally connected to the Internet via local Internet service providers (ISPs) which, in turn, are linked to larger ISPs with connection to the major national and international infrastructure, or backbones, which are managed by commercial organizations such as AT&T, UUNET, and Verizon. 

Hosting of eCommerce websites

If you run an eCommerce business, you can set up a web server on your own, which is located within your company office. But a lot of people use a specialist hosting provider to manage this service. A hosting provider manages the server used to host an organization’s website and its connection to the Internet backbones. Rackspace, for example, is a well-known web hosting company in Europe, which has offered hosting, e-mail servers, security, and storage services for thousands of clients.

Extranets

An extranet is opposed to an intranet in that while an intranet is the network of the computers within an organization, an extranet is the network of your business’ server computer and your customers’ computers

From a user point of view, if you want to buy a book or a CD online, you may come to a website and log in with a username and password. The underlying system that manages your account and responds to your requests is the internet. That’s a simple explanation of what an extranet is. A large part of every eCommerce development project deals with building up a reliable extranet.

The extranet is a secure environment for information sharing between you and your customers. It helps you reduce the number of people involved in placing orders and respectively reduce the processing costs. It can also connect a retailer’s point of sales terminals to a supplier’s delivery system to minimize the number of lost sales due to out-of-stock items. Those are just a few benefits of the extranet.

Developing an extranet, you definitely need to be aware of firewalls. They will ensure that outside access to confidential information does not occur. 

Web technology

World Wide Web, or ‘web’ for short, is the most common technique for publishing information on the Internet. It is accessed through web browsers that display web pages of embedded graphics and text, such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Microsoft Edge.

One good thing about the Web is that it offers hyperlinks that allow users to move readily from one website to another, a process known as ‘surfing’. Also, HTML, the main standard document format for web pages, supports a wide range of formating, making documents easy to read on different access devices.

Web browsers, HTML, and other web technologies together bring about several useful functions for the eCommerce businesses: discussions through social networks, financial transactions, rich-media advertising content, user-friendliness to owners of various devices regardless of platforms and screen sizes, and so forth.

An example of an eCommerce transaction using the web

One day, a man wants to buy shoes. He opens the web browser Google Chrome on his PC and searches Google with such keywords as “where to buy shoes”. Google, just like other search engines, works as a search intermediary that may lead them to your destination site. It could be a web app, a blog, or just a static page with contact details. This is where you and your customers meet.

So in order to run a website, you need to hire a company to develop and maintain it. Part of the website development process is finding where to place the servers of your site, which is often through a hosting service provider. If you choose a reputable and reliable hosting service, that may add up the website development cost considerably. That’s the overall picture of how your eCommerce website is developed, and how it works.

VOIP, promising cost-reducing application for eCommerce businesses

Web 2.0, blogs, e-mails, or feeds are some example of Internet-access software applications which help your eCommerce business thrive.

But there’s also another application that’s worth mentioning here, which is Voice over IP (VoIP). This is a relatively new approach that can be used for transmitting voice over the Internet, and it is proving increasingly popular for reducing the cost of making phone calls between an organization and its stakeholders. 

VOIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, is one of the services provided by Designveloper.

Apart from cost reduction, there are other benefits following the application of VoIP:

  • Click-to-call – users click the number they want from an on-screen directory to call.
  • Call forwarding and conferencing to people at other locations
  • Unified messaging. E-mails, voicemails, and faxes are all integrated into a single inbox.
  • Hot-desking – calls are routed to staff wherever they log-in – on-site or off-site.
  • Cost control – review and allocation of costs between different businesses is more transparent.

VoIP development is also one of the key services offered by Designveloper. If you want to receive in-depth consultancy on this application, do not hesitate to leave your information at this link. We will reach out to you as soon as possible.

Above are just some concepts that you should familiarize yourself with in order to work smoothly with any third-party suppliers of eCommerce solutions. To get more information about eCommerce, you can check out the following articles:

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