eCommerce Technology


eCommerce is electronic commerce using the Internet as the enabling technology. The growth in eCommerce predicted by the Gartner Group and others in the technology information business suggest double digit numbers over the next 3 years. Sounds too good to be true. Well, eCommerce is not the utopia that we are lead to believe. First, let's take a look at where eCommerce is being used and can be used and where it is going. Next, we will look at what technologies make up an eCommerce solution. eCommerce can be split into two categories:


  • The Business of eCommerce

  • The Technology of eCommerce


The Business of eCommerce


Since 1995, eCommerce has been evolving in the direction of serving commodity markets where it is easy to implement sales with little or no intervention with customer service. What this has done is reduced margins on those businesses, and therefore the profitability has decreased. Certainly, there will be some rationalization within industries where there are too many businesses with too little means to differentiate themselves enough to survive. Where growth may be is in products that allow eCommerce to service customers that are willing to pay higher prices for better services and value added.

The Technology of eCommerce


The technology required to set up an eCommerce solution has been evolving rapidly and will continue at a hurricane pace through the year 2000 and beyond. There are several avenues to developing a solution ranging from a completely custom approach to using Rapid Development Frameworks that will get the site up in a very short time. However, both approaches have their caveats which we will discuss shortly. So what parts make up a eCommerce site.


eCommerce Site


eCommerce Site Elements

Client Web-Browser
Web Server
Merchant Software
Payment Server
Transaction Processor
EDI Interface
Connectors to Legacy Systems



Custom Approach

The custom approach has the advantage of flexibility with scalability and portability being the key attributes. Typically, the rapid development tools for eCommerce use underlying technologies that cause vendor lock-in. If portability to technologies that have been standardized is a strict requirement, then the custom approach is the best solution.


Rapid Development Frameworks


Rapid Development Frameworks allows an eCommerce solution to be implemented much quicker than with the custom approach. However, there is a cost in both software and flexibility that may or may not fit as the correct solution for a business. The initial cost for a RAD tool may be higher but the advantage is that the architecture, design and construction of the software has already been in most cases solidified. Upgrades will be professionally handled and if you align with a company that has a high probability of success, then they should be around to help you well into the future.