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Lesson 1

Baseline Technologies for ecommerce

One of the objectives of this modules is to list ecommerce baseline technology categories. The incredible demand for ecommerce solutions has spawned hundreds of new products that specifically provide functions for ecommerce solutions. Nevertheless, none of these products come close to addressing all of the requirements of an e-Commerce solution. In fact, many of the technical elements found in e-Commerce solutions predate the explosion of the Web in the late 1990s. Thus, e-Commerce-specific products are built on top of or in concert with these older building-block technologies in a complete ecommerce solution. We refer to these older building blocks as baseline e-Commerce technologies.

Baseline ecommerce Technology Categories

Baseline ecommerce technologies consist of various hardware, network, and software elements. These elements form the primary architectural infrastructure and provide customization and management tools for ecommerce solutions. We will be covering five categories of baseline ecommerce enabling technologies in this module.

Hardware includes the physical computing resources that provide the execution engine for software and networks.
  1. Auxiliary devices for information display (like monitors and printers)
  2. Information capture devices (like scanners and swipe machines)
  3. Storage devices

The focus of this module will be client hardware (PCs, handheld devices) and server hardware typically involved in e-Commerce applications.

Operating Systems (OS)

Operating Systems (OS) provide the basic execution and management environment for the execution of applications software. They are typically associated with a limited set of hardware. In other words, most operating systems are only designed to run on certain hardware devices. Specifically, an operating system takes semiconductor-based instruction sets and makes the instructions available for higher-level programming languages such as C++. They also provide the execution environment for higher-level programs. In some cases, particularly in the case of client hardware or the Microsoft Windows, the OS provides the user interface[1]. In the case of most ecommerce solutions, the web browser handles the user interface instead of the operating system.

Data Management Systems

Database and data management systems are software products that store, manage, and provide intelligent access to structured data and information.
Packaged applications are solution-specific software products that encapsulate business logic and data structures to support specific business processes in organizations. The buyer, a value added reseller, or another third party installs the software on the target physical platform. Over the past decade, most corporations have shifted from building their own applications to purchasing packaged applications (and then often customizing the packaged applications).

Turnkey Solutions

In the realm of e-commerce, turnkey solutions play a crucial role in simplifying the process of setting up and managing an online store. They offer a pre-configured package featuring essential baseline technologies, removing the need to build everything from scratch and streamlining launch times. Here are some key characteristics of turnkey solutions in this context:
  • Ready-to-use functionality: They are pre-built with all the necessary functionalities for starting an online store, eliminating the need for complex development or integration. This typically includes features like:
  • ecommerce platform: A pre-built platform like Shopify or WooCommerce forms the core, hosting your online store and powering its operations.
  • Store Design and Themes: Pre-designed templates or customizable themes allow you to create a visually appealing and user-friendly storefront without extensive design expertise.
  • Shopping Cart and Checkout: A secure and easy-to-use shopping cart system facilitates smooth customer purchases. Integration with popular payment gateways ensures seamless transactions.
  • Product management: Tools for adding, editing, and managing product listings, including descriptions, images, inventory tracking, and pricing.
  • Order fulfillment: Systems for managing orders, processing payments, generating shipping labels, and tracking shipments.
  • Basic marketing and SEO tools: Built-in features to help improve your online visibility and attract customers, such as social media integration and basic SEO optimization.
  1. Ease of implementation: Turnkey solutions are designed to be quick and easy to set up, often offering drag-and-drop interfaces and straightforward onboarding processes. This minimizes the need for technical expertise and allows businesses to launch their online store quickly.
  2. Scalability and customization: Although pre-built, many turnkey solutions offer varying degrees of customization to cater to specific business needs. Some allow for additional plugins or integrations, while others may offer more advanced customization options within the existing framework. Additionally, most solutions are designed to scale alongside your business growth, allowing you to expand storage, features, and functionality as needed.
  3. Support and maintenance: Typically, turnkey solutions come with dedicated support from the provider, offering assistance with setup, usage, and troubleshooting. Some even offer maintenance services to ensure your store remains functional and up-to-date.
  4. Cost-effectiveness: Compared to custom development, turnkey solutions can be more cost-effective, especially for small businesses starting out. The upfront cost may be higher than building a store from scratch, but it saves time, resources, and ongoing maintenance expenses.

Overall, turnkey solutions offer a convenient and efficient way for businesses to enter the e-commerce landscape without the complexities of building everything from the ground up. They provide a solid foundation of essential technologies, minimizing technical burdens and allowing businesses to focus on marketing, product development, and customer acquisition.

Turnkey Solutions
Turnkey solutions are packaged applications delivered pre-installed on a specific hardware or network. Packaged applications only include software. (Note that we will discuss packaged applications and turnkey solutions in the same lesson.)

[1] User Interface (UI): The human-machine interface used by people to actually invoke commands on the computer.