Managing the Storefront

There is more to an e-commerce Web site than just the user side of things. There are also all the aspects of managing the store. The right tools to manage the e-commerce Web site are as critical as the right tools to engage the site visitor.

The management tools needed can range from simple order reporting and tracking to full-fledged store database management tools. Keep in mind, all of these can be built on the same technology as the storefront. In fact, the sample stores in Site Server 3, Commerce Edition, come complete with a management interface.

Storefront Management Tools

Function

Description

Security

High levels of security will be critical for ensuring the right people have the right access to the appropriate functions. The customer too needs to have confidence that his credit card and order details will not be compromised en route to the supplier.

Product Management

The products in the storefront can be management right on the Web servers if desired. Adding, updating, and deleting of products can be done directly in a Web page environment. An automated process might be necessary to reconcile the online store with a traditional product management system.

Order Tracking and Reporting

There are many opportunities to perform order tracking and general order management. Order data can be downloaded into a database format such as Microsoft Access or a comma delimited ASCII file, perhaps for integration with separate data analysis tools. Various reports can be created to analyze order history, etc.

Department/Category Management

Along with managing products, you can build in functionally to manage product categorization into departments.

Promotion Management

A critical aspect of managing the site might include administrating product promotions, sales, message text, cross sells, up sells, and anything else your marketers can come up with.

Shopper Management

If your e-commerce site has profiling of shoppers and shopper recognition you may need features to manage those profiles.

Business Rule Management

Virtually any aspect of the site should be customizable from a solid management tool. Tax, shipping, and other critical business rules of the Web site could be easily managed from a Web interface.

The technology behind the management interface does not have to be in a Web page, tradition CUP client server development can also provide all the tools needed to manage the online store. The only potential downside is that remote management via the Web may be difficult to do with Visual Basic when your server farm is not located on the premises. Certainly database connections can be made with technologies such as Remote Data Services (RDS), but that may not be as flexible as a Web browser based interface will be.

Summary

E-commerce can be as simple as a single form online that accepts a credit card. Or it can be as complex as integrating disparate vendor systems to support supply chain purchasing.

In this book we are going to focus on the technology behind the e-commerce process. It is important to point out that underlying e-commerce are the basics of any business – customer service, fulfillment, marketing, inventory management, and much more.

A lot of planning needs to go into a successful e-commerce business. This book will show you how to utilize the products you already know – Visual Basic, SQL Server, Windows NT, and more – to build a successful, feature rich online presence for your business.