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Analysis And Design Of An E-Commerce Site

Analysis And Design Of An E-Commerce Site

 

Question:

Describe about the Analysis and Design of an E-Commerce Site.

Answer:

The issues that can be addressed from the above addressed research questions are

Issue 1 – Consumer behaviour is a tangible thing that defines the success of the business and it cannot be defined with a single factors. There is no one factor and one method to design e-commerce website design.

Issue 2 – There is no formula or an automated process to measure and test efficiency of the website of the –commerce, towards making an efficient and effective design of the website.

Issue 3 – Web analytics have greater influence on the e-commerce website design and it changes dynamically and consistently, so the e-commerce website design becomes a greater issue.

Issue 1

Consumer Behaviour

The evolution of the e-commerce, has been based on the consumer and organization behaviour. The buying behaviour of consumer is greatly influenced by effective design of the e-commerce website.

According to Kalakota and Whinston, e-commerce can be defined as ‘the buying and selling of information products and services through network of computers, where the computer network in this context, primarily indicating the internet (Buettner & Ricardo, 2016). However, the term has been used to encompass not only the activities of buying and selling, as specified above, but also the using of the technologies of the internet, such as intranets, emails for sharing and exchanging the information either with the external stakeholders or the stakeholders within the firm (Power & Mihael, 2013). There are other definitions of the e-commerce and according to them, e-commerce is referred to the strategies, procedures, policies needed for supporting the electronic interaction incorporation to the business environment. A better and comprehensive e-Commerce definition, among various definitions can be the ability of performing the business transactions and complete contracts that involve services and goods exchange, between two or among more than two parties with the help of internet, electronic and / or telecommunication tools techniques, strategies and policies.

During the twenty first century, the companies have started establishing their presence online with the vision and purpose of maintaining their competitive edge. Internet has become a great potential and essential tool, because of high speed internet connections, and eventually, businesses started competing both domestically and globally. The rapid growth of depth and breadth of the internet has changed the ways that the most businesses do operate. And e-Commerce has been enabled by internet and started offering both the businesses and customers, as a unique channel for offering and purchasing services and goods. These business relationships have been created, transformed and strengthened by using the inter-networked computers, used by e-Commerce.

Electronic commerce exists in various groups and some of the groups that are Business-to-Business (B2B), Consumer-to-Consumer (C2C), Business-to-Consumer (B2C).

Business-to-Business: The roots of the B2B exist from the networks of Electronic Data Exchange (EDI) that have been established in between the businesses, organizations and their respective suppliers, manufacturers of the related industry. Companies started conducting their businesses right from prospecting towards processing of the order and online delivery. The e-commerce of B2B consists of use of exchanges over the marketplaces that are based on internet, in which the companies that participate can sell or purchase a wide range of products, where some of them are specific to the specific industry and some of them are generic across industries (Ewaryst et al., 2009).

Business-to-Customer: B2C, which is a popular and greatly successful e-Commerce business has been introduced and conducting throughout the world, in which the companies started offering the products and services online over their websites and wherein the consumer access their websites and start purchasing the products and services.

Consumer-to-Consumer: Apart from the major e-Commerce B2B and B2C transactions, interactions and transactions of e-Commerce may have other kinds, majorly consumer-to-consumer interactions and transactions. The interaction and transactions are performed among the individual consumers, within the organization, in the form of private auctions and sales.

Business-to-Business-to-Consumer: These e-commerce organizations offer some of their own products and services to the businesses of the client, which maintain their own customer base for business. For example, eBay can be the best example, which offers a virtual marketplace to their customers, who can be either individuals or even businesses that sell the products to their own customers, through eBay.

Government-to-Business: G2B e-commerce enable the organizations of the government to provide interaction, information, services and businesses to companies.

Government-to-Consumer: G2C e-commerce allow the organizations of government to offer the interaction, information, services and business to consumers.

Peer-to-Peer: P2P e-commerce offer the peer computers that are networked to process and share the data among themselves directly and it can be used in other e-commerce modes, B2B, B2C and B2B.

Location-based Commerce: L-commerce offer the transactions of the m-commere to target at individuals at specific locations during specific durations, similar to the navigation systems used in the cars.

Mobile Commerce: M-commerce allow the e-commerce activities, such as interactions and transactions to be conducted through wireless and so these operations and so products and services can be purchased through cell phones.

Collaborative Commerce: C-commerce allow groups or individuals to collaborate and communicate online, by creating such environment.

Intra-business e-commerce: It allows all the activities of the internal organizations, which involve activities, such as exchange of services, goods or information.

ICT and Business

Information and Communication Technology or ICT is equally an important integral part of the e-commerce, similar to the information technology. According to the reports after the surveys, there is an estimation of 20 million workers in the UK involve in using ICT in some or the other form. Eventually, running ICT to deliver the value has become crucial for healthier business (Ahmed & Iqbal, 2009).

The enterprise systems are well integrated with information technology and information and communication technology systems connecting various functions related to the business. Some of the examples of these enterprise are, Customer Relationship Management, Enterprise Resource Planning, Product Lifecycle Management and Supply Chain Management, etc. They are referred as integration tools. And when these tools are implemented properly, they could enhance productivity, through maintaining huge corporate data, by automating work process and satisfying the requirements of the regulatory compliance. Information and communication technology support e-Commerce to facilitate further, by providing necessary channels for architectures of the e-commerce, like Electronic Fund Transfer and Electronic Data Interchange.

EFT

Electronic Fund Transfer is a method used to transfer funds from an individual or an organization to another, electronically, like EFTPOS (Electronic Funds Transfer at Point of Sale) that provides transfer of money automatically, to the seller, from buyer during the sale.

EDI

Electronic Data Exchange involves information exchange among various companies, by the help of the computer network, like the internet. It involves data exchanges among the computers, such as orders, invoices and various business documents. So, the end result would be improving the efficiency and savings of the cost, since, the possible errors can be minimized, which occur if the information has to be entered repeatedly into the computers, more than once (Eisingerich et al., 2008). In addition to that, EDI provides a mechanism that enables the e-commerce for the companies to sell, trade and buy the information, by making it easily accessible. EDI systems are embraced by major corporations in the market of B2B, towards improving the efficiency and reducing the costs and increasing the competitiveness. The EDI system in the retail market, it allows the retailer for implementing the strategies that give quick responses that would eventually reduce the overall time that they should hold merchandise in terms of inventory and it would end up in savings of the cost for the retailer.

ERP

Enterprise Resource Planning system has been embedded with ‘best practices’ and provides the best ways to perform the business activities, based on academic theory or common business practices. The ERP software has the aim for improving interaction and co-operation in between various departments in the organizations, like manufacturing, planning, marketing, purchasing and customer service departments. ERP stands as an effective managerial tool and enabling key technology that allows companies to integrate the functions, in all the levels and utilising various applications of ERP, like Accounting management, financial management, Supply-chain Management, Customer Relationship Management and Human Resources Management. These applications stand as the best examples, representing large, computerised, complex and integrated information systems that an influence the success of business in long0term, strongly.

ERP is evolved into the form that they are in present, from accounting tools implemented by large corporations for processing of payroll during 1950s. According to Bernroider and Tang, ERP was evolved for financial controlling initially, but started covering the total stock management process later. Production process was automated with Materials Requirement Planning during 1970s, through scheduling of material purchasing and operations, based on the current and forecasted requirements related to the finished goods and production facility constraints. The later versions of the MRP, II, coordinated the total process, during 1980s right from materials and parts purchase planning towards distribution. Initially, the term, ERP used first time by Garner Group during early 1990s and later have included automated parts and multiple applications related to the business.

The major consideration and interest in this project is the B2C e-Commerce, since it is concerned majorly with the uninterrupted access provision to the products and services of the organization to the consumers, limiting or removing the boundaries geographically. It can be achieved traditionally, by developing an online virtual shop. The architecture of the e-commerce is built with various components, such as product catalogues, shopping carts, payment mechanisms and order forms and coordination and relationships among these components (Eurostat, 2013).

The primary and major advantage of the systems of the e-commerce is that small businesses is that the total set up cost for virtual business online stands low, when compared to the set up required for traditional premises for physical business, which involve various costs incurred, such as operational costs, wages daily and rent, etc.

The behaviour of the consumer can be well driven by an effective website design and tend them towards buying the products. It needs certain e-commerce marketing strategies to be followed. Having exploring all the above evolution of the e-commerce application, which is considered and perceived to be positive behaviour of the consumer, there can be many strategies applied for influencing the behaviour of the consumer.

The website design needs internet marketing strategy that helps in direct contact in between the business house and consumer that also allows the companies to sell their products through advertising in a much better and easier ways.  It is important to conduct B2C campaigns to implement and deploy the tactics and strategies, such as offering coupons, discounts, limited time deals, offering vouchers to mobilize the markets targeted, towards buying the products both online and offline (Millward, 2016).

Issue 2

How to design, measure and test efficiency of e-commerce website

The e-commerce website has to be designed with various components and dimensions followed, by keeping various aspects of the website into consideration (Burgess, et al., 2009).

The newly hanging trend in the domain of e-commerce has been associated with utilization of the software to improve communication, internet related technology, collaboration, information sharing and web functionality and it is defined commonly as Web 2.0. The purpose and primary objective of the Web 2.0 is proliferation of interactivity and connectivity of the web-delivered content, which enable the users to not only obtain the information from the data owned by the website over the internet, but also gain a good control over this data and adding the value to the application of the e-commerce, as the consumer keeps using it.

The major and key applications and services of Web 2.0 are as the following .

  1. Podcast

These are audio recordings that are usually stand in MP3 format for various lectures, talks and interviews and they can be played over the computer or any kind of MP3 devices.

  1. Blog

It is also called as a web-long and this webpage consists of user views, opniions, links and information briefly and these posts are chronologically arranged within a format of menu-driven.

  1. Wiki

Wiki is a single or set of web pages that can be accessible by anyone with access privileges and can be edited easily. One best example of wiki is , Wikipedia, which is a free encyclopedia on the internet.

  1. Multimedia Sharing

These services facilitate the user to store and share the multimedia content, like photos, video, podcasts, etc.

  1. RSS

RSS is considered as a huge family for formats that help to find out various updates to the RSS-enabeld websites content, podcasts or blogs, without need to open and visit the site. Information can be collected from the website, within a feed and piped to the consumer through a process called as syndication.

  1. Social Networking

Various professional social networking sites, such as myspace.com, facebook. com, etc. facilitate the people to meet, find the likeminded people and allow to share the content.

The design of the website has to consider these components and platforms to widen the access by the customers and widen visibility over the internet, for the targeted company (O’Brien & Marakas, 2011).

An important factor that can be critical in the design of the web application is the requirement analysis done along with the abstraction, after removing the details that are unnecessary. It is important as it would be cost effective by decreasing the efforts of error correction at later stages. Moreover, it would be easier to perform error correction at the design stage, rather than after implementation stage or during maintenance stage. Formal specifications give precise, unambiguous and correct understanding of the requirements of the users.

Requirements of website design for e-commerce

There are certain requirements that have to be addressed and met during the design of the website so that the best e-commerce functionalities can be delivered. Some of these requirements are as the following (Burgess et al., 2009).

  1. Scalability

Though the initial website design is to serve and offer the services to a small number of consumers, it must be upgradable to a huge number of consumers at the later stages and should be able to process much increased number of transactions.

  1. Extensibility

The system should be enabled to increase the present total number of services, without disturbing or disrupting any of the rest of offered services.

  1. Security

The database has to be maintained very securely, so that any unauthorized access can be prevented and any kind of disruption and threat to the services and data should be very well prevented.

  1. Robustness

The e-commerce system has to be enabled to handle and operate many kinds of data that would be needed for proper functioning of the system.

  1. Flexibility

The new e-commerce system has to be enabled to adapt to the requirements that are ever changing and dynamic in nature, in the dynamic environment.

  1. Integrity of information

The data among the database to be well integrated for various purposes, such as preserving the data from unintentional attacks, such as malicious malware, virus, etc. and integrity also helps in minimizing the redundancy of the data.

  1. Traceability

The e-commerce system has to be enabled to be able to provide the details of order history, where, what, when the transactions have taken place, upon requests.

Issue 3

Web analytics influence over the e-commerce website design

Web analytics consider the success and failure of the e-commerce. The internet and the e-commerce have completely changed the way the businesses digitally operated. E-commerce especially creates new relationships and transform the existing relationships of the business. web applications and web analytics provide the business solutions towards improvement of the products and services quality, increase the service delivery speed and reduce the cost incurred for the business operations.

There are many ventures that have failed in the web application development, because these systems are dynamic and very complex and the requirements of users are continuously hanging. Communication between developer and end user is inefficient and it stands as a contributing factor to the failure of the website design. It enable the e-commerce website design and accomplish the web application development successfully, the architecture of the website has to be visually modelled. These visual models help grasping and changing the requirements of the users and communicating effectively to the team of development (Laudon & Traver, 2014).

Web analytics give a good analysis of various advantages and disadvantage of the e-commerce that help the design of the e-commerce website, by taking them into consideration.

Advantages

There are enormous benefits of the e-commerce applications and these benefits drive many businesses to enter the digital world on the internet virtual platform. In terms of consumer, this virtual cyberspace becomes a potential environment, where near perfect competition of the companies exist and in which various products can be compared, in terms of price and features, all just in seconds. Many e-commerce websites, such as comparethemarket.com and dealtime.com allow the consumers to find the best deal online for them, all for free of charge. The products and services can be delivered at the door steps, within short period of time and such services can be boon for the elderly or disabled. There are various e-commerce models exist and employed in the metaphor of real world shopping to shop with shopping trolley and easily checkout very easily, and can be operated easily by a day to day internet user.

Cyberspace has no limit to the specific geographical location and it helps winning worldwide audience through progressive value creation.

The primary reason for proliferation and growth of the e-commerce globally is its ability to create and promote the value for an organization, implementing the e-commerce solutions, for their consumers, suppliers and partners. Here, value creation is perceived as expected or potential and actual results both monetary and non-monetary of e-commerce business model utilization. The monetary results from this creation of value include enhancement of the revenue, through growth of the sales and differentiation of price and reduction in the cost, related to the products sold, saved operating costs, after the implementation and result of the system and asset intensity reduction (Laudon et al., 2014).

The first aspect of value creation is the revenue enhancement. It is perceived that the e-commerce creates and develops new channel online to sell the products and services of the company, along with the channels that traditionally exist. This newly added sales volume generated through this new channel, would also facilitate the sales of the products through the channels that exist. For instance, a business that has a physical presence of its office can start acting as processing centers for the orders generated online, and it can be seen in contrast to the opposed to develop a new expense of separate warehouse to deal with these orders.

The increase in the revenue can also be associated with the quick and adaptable adjustment of the prices that depend on various segments of the customers. For example, retained customers pay more than new customers pay or the prices of the products that expire very soon can be reduced, preventing the final alternative of the disposing of such products. E-Commerce applications have become a significant source of reduction in cost, which has become the next aspect of value creation.

E-commerce enable the opportunities for reduction of the asset intensity, which indicates reduction in the capital costs, by faster disposition through sales, of any old or unnecessary equipment and also obsolete or excess inventory and also by using the existing space by reducing the clutters of inventory.

Disadvantages

Not all the products can be represented well in cyberspace effectively, like CDs, books, software, etc. It is because the products, like cloths, appliances, audio, video equipment cannot give a clear picture of how they look and how they operate, as they cannot experiment, before buying online. So, the design of the website of the e-commerce application has to be very effective to overcome these issues.

Another important disadvantage is the legislation dilemma. E-business is different from the traditional business, as they are well separated by the electronic transactions. Who has jurisdiction, when an electronic transaction takes place? Who own and win authority to apply the existing laws over these electronic transactions.

Security of E-Commerce System

The web analytics obtained day to day indicate and emphasize the importance and impact of the security of the e-commerce system, in order to perform safer transactions and preserve the credentials of the company and users, without any third party intervention (Benjamin et al., 2006).

Risk Analysis

Web design aspects have to consider the risk analysis seriously, as the e-commerce system, which is an electronic system should be automated in a secured environment. The security of the e-commerce is more exacting, because of the necessity to safer processes executed both internally and externally. The infrastructure needed to protect the company and the respective credentials of the respective stakeholders becomes crucial, especially, when businesses get realized with great or ful potential of internet. The website design and development aspects needed to consider in this security concern are varied, but must ensure to cover, what the components are more critical and more vulnerable, which information needs to be confidential and has ot be well protected, how to ensrue the confidentiality, what kind of system of authentication has to be assigned and developed, which system of intrusion detection should be enabled with installation, who should be accoutabel and responsible for installation and configuration of the infrastructure of the critical e-business, what kind of plans are needed to developed to ensure that they are in place to ensure minimum service disruption or continuity, etc.

The anonymous nature of the cyberspace, raises the concerns of security, trust and privacy in the e-commerce applications and the web design aspects have to counter-act against each of these concerns, boldly.

The solutions proposed must consider the following attacks to the system of e-commerce (Gilber & Alorie, 2004).

  1. Background attacks

The background of websites of the e-shop can be changed by the hacker.

  1. SQL Injection

It is subset of unauthorized or unverified vulnerability input entered by the user and the application that runs the code of SQL could be convinced to get the access to the data that is confidential.

  1. Vulnerabilities of Admin Control Panel

If the control panel fo the merchant is weak, it can be controlled by the usual behaviour of elevate the privileges of the hacker.

  1. Price Manipulation

It may be occurred, when the hacker is intended to change the price of the product.

  1. Vulnerability of Weak Login Forms

Either of the two login pages, one for the merchant and one for the customer can be accessed if there is any weak login combination is compromised.

  1. Buffer Overflow

It is an anomalous condition, in which data is attempted to store beyond the fixed-length buffer boundaries.

  1. Denial of Service Attack

A hacker can connect to a public serer, through free and unlimited accoutns of dial-up originating from any country and disrupt the performance intensive pages to strain the web server and disrupt its regular and normal services to be provided for the end users.

  1. Vulnerability of Data Leakage

A malicious hacker can iterate the database query that can be visible, as part of the URL, especially for the websites that are database-driven.

  1. Cross-site Scripting

It occurs, when the malicious scripts are introduced to a dynamic form, allowing capturing information during private sessions.

  1. Spam Harvesting and Relaying

The email addressed from the contact forms can be modified for the purpose of anonymous mail or relay spam or even to bomb mailboxes.

Eventually, the design and development aspects of the e-commerce website should start practicing, the following for secured transactions.

  1. Regular data back up
  2. Protection with antivirus and anti-spyware
  3. User training
  4. Use of encryption

The lessons learned from the above review of the huge reports available online and offline, are the following.

  1. E-Commerce applications are potentially beneficial to both the company and consumer.
  2. Design aspects can influence the buying behaviour of the consumers to a great extent.
  3. It is important to consider huge factors, both internal and external during the website design, so that further issues can be minimized.
  4. A detailed analysis of opportunities and threats, has to be conducted before the website design.

Literature Review Conclusion

The three research questions are addressed with relative aspects during the literature review. The consumer behaviour is explored by understanding thee evolution of the e-commerce, driven by the consumer behaviour. The ways of designing and its influencing factors are explored. Finally, the web analytics are discussed to consider before, commencing the process of website design for e-commerce application.

Methology

The thesis needs a research methodology for gathering the requirements for the proposed study. A suitable research methodology has to be chosen and implemented to perform system analysis, by employing the system analysis method, towards complete understanding of existing system, which is considered to be the basis for analysis for the study over the website design aspects for the e-commerce applications. This section discusses the research methods followed for the study of the system.

The three basic research paradigms are interpretivism, positivism and critical science. The research is basically done in two methods, called qualitative research and quantitative research (Denzin & Lincoln, 2014).

Qualitative Research

The objective of the qualitative research is to explore the behaviour, thought processes, attitudes and experiences, from the focus groups, by conducting the interviews. As the quality is the key point here, it attempts to obtain the opinion of the focus groups, in-depth, fewer participants are considered for this research and lasts longer. There are many methodologies that exist under the umbrella of this qualitative research.

Qualitative research is one kind of scientific research that investigates to,

  • Seek and obtain answers to the pre-defined questions
  • Using the procedures that are predefined, systematically to answer the posed questions
  • Collecting the evidences
  • Producing findings, which are new and not determined before
  • Producing findings, which are applicable, beyond the study boundaries

In addition to the above characteristics, qualitative research also seeks to understand the research problem or analysis from the local population perspective. The qualitative research is more effective to obtain the information that is specific to the cultural aspects, opinions, values, social contexts, behaviour of particular targeted population.

Data can be collected from the participants of the focus groups in many ways.

  1. Interactive interviewing, where the participants are asked to describe their phenomenon and experience, verbally
  2. Observations, where descriptive observation is attempted to observe the behaviour of both verbal and non-verbal
  3. Written descriptions, where the participants are asked to write and describe their experience of phenomenon

The data is collected is analysed and it becomes a guide to conclude with the decisions .

Quantitative Research

Qualitative research is conducted by conducting questionnaires and surveys. These methods can be conducted through email, posts, online, over the telephone, or simply by pen down (Denzin & Lincoln, 2014). Survey questions are usually considered carefully, to provide meaningful data from the results obtained.

Quantitative research has the aim to classify the features and count the features and then statistical models can be obtained during an attempt of description and observation. Here, the focus is objective and the researcher has a clear idea of what he or she will be obtaining, from the results. This research is preferred to be conducted at later phases of the analysis research projects. This involves consideration and design of all aspects before the collection of the data. The research obtains the numerical data that is collected through various research tools, like equipment and questionnaires. This numerical data is collected in the form of statistics and numbers. Finally, the qualitative research method achieves the objective by seeking precise measurement and target concepts analysis, such as the results of questionnaires, surveys, etc. It is more effective as it can help to test hypotheses, however, there is a danger and possibility of missing the contextual detail. Researchers, in this method, remains isolated objectively from the subject matter.

Chosen Methodology

The research conducted for the study and analysis and design of e-commerce website, is conducted by combining both the methods, qualitative and quantitative.

Qualitative research is conducted by studying various case studies, which help to learn the direct opinions and experiences of the management of the e-commerce companies that have evolved and stabilised over a period of time, by now. This research is conducted by considering the two case studies for e-commerce applications, ASDA, a part of Wal-Mart and Tesco, which is a major online retailer in the UK. These studies have revealed how the initial design aspects were taken into consideration and how these design aspects have been transitioned towards the objective of increasing online sales, through e-commerce applications.

Quantitative research method is developed and followed, by exploring and studying the online resources, specifically, the peer reviews, about the design aspects to be considered for the e-commerce websites, based on their analyses of the existing e-commerce websites and applications. These analyses are analysed through quantitative research method and the overall analysis is made and presented in this research project.

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