eCommerce: A view from the backend

Apart from features mentioned in my last post, which were directly related to commerce part of business, following are other important parts of an ecommerce system

Content: Your system will need to display items like News on products, Stock prices, policies etc.The content might be product related like images or videos for promotion.

Community: For customer to make an educated guess, it is desirable that he should know what others are talking about product and services. Product reviews, comparisons, chat messages, forums can be helpful for this.

Some other features which are actually invisible to end users, but business needs to take care while setting up ecommerce system

Load Handling: How much concurrent load can your website handle? The ecommerce site needs to be load tested to understand its behavior with increasing load.

Scalability: The website today might be designed to handle 10K users, but in future we might have 100K users. Can our website (technology we used) will scale up to handle increased user base.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO): This is another important aspect of an ecommerce system. Say we have a website selling mobile phones. We would like to make sure that search engines rank our site high whenever a mobile related query like “Android smartphone”, “Nokia phone” etc is searched for.

To support all the features mentioned for ecommerce site, we need to have some services working at backend to fill in manage the data

Content management: How the content is to be managed on user interface. What all items will be displayed and their organization at UI. This means creation and maintenance of pages and templates to be shown on website.

Product management: To add and manage product details.

Catalog management: As mentioned earlier, catalog will create list of products in a categorized manner. There can be different version of catalogs created and maintained by business.

Order management (workflow): An order management process needs to be defined and maintained.

User management: This is for both end user (making purchase) and business user (managing the system). We need to make sure no one gets unauthorized access to the system. For end user we need to make sure if user is active, and maintain user purchase history.

Offers Management: Various offers are provided by business in form of discounts and personalized deals. Business needs to monitor these offers and when an offer is active (season based/ holiday season etc).

In addition to above mentioned components, a true ecommerce system might also have

Suppliers and supply chain management: From where we will get the products? How much inventory is available and how much time will it take to be delivered (or how many tickets are left).

Shipping management: How shipping is handled (mostly outsourced). How products which are returned to company are handled?

Customer Relationship management: How do we make sure customer keeps coming back. You need to maintain the customer purchase history so you can recommend the most suited products. Also returns and complaints needs to handled gracefully to avoid any bad publicity and encourage customer loyalty.