Analysis of Online Shop Systems

They expect a company to offer their complete product line online as well as offline. Thus E-Commerce is a must-have for companies that want to increase sales and develop new markets – maybe all over the world.

This thesis faces two extremely different online shop systems – one open source and one high cost software. Basically both systems bring up the required shop functionalities. Usability, clarity, security as well as a general adaptability and structured presentation of information in the front end and in the backend qualify both systems to be deployed in every-day online shopping.

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The most important thing to pay attention to while figuring out pros and cons of the systems will be the companies requirements. Setting up a small online shop from scratch, renewing an existing internet appearance or integrating established business processes from suppliers to partners and B2B customers – all these ways of using online shop software are possible, depending on the readiness to invest in high costs for the software and employee trainings on the one hand or deductions on functionality combined with a lot of active work and – at the first sight – comparatively low costs on the other.

6 1 Introduction 1 Introduction 1. 1 Motivation I chose „Analysis of Online Shop Systems” as the subject of my diploma thesis because they offer a great chance to gain profit for a company. With a little work on setting up and customizing you can offer an attractive and easy online shop. No matter if you are a „global player” like Amazon or if you store your products in your garage at home, you can spread them all over the world. If you take time to think about what you want to offer and how you want to offer it, you can respond to your customer? s individual needs and wishes.

I think it has become important for every company to offer their products on the world wide web because meanwhile people have got used to online shops. They expect a company to offer their products on the internet and want to benefit from the advantages of ordering their goods at home. Finally a word on language: This thesis is written in English in order to make it available for a bigger audience and, of course, to improve language skills. So the greater efforts that had to be undergone during the creation are certainly worth the endless lookups in online dictionaries and language discussing boards.

Last but not least I would like to thank Mr.

Reiner Burger for reading this thesis besides his everyday work and helping to make it sound proper and adequate to a scientific work. 1. 2 Task bbreakdown This thesis is about common online shop software, its features, „must-haves” and usability. In the last decade more and more online shops have been occurred. Meanwhile some of them are already out of use whereas others have made their mark in every day online shopping. There are commercial as well as free (open source) online shops available.

With this thesis I would like to • ntroduce E-Commerce and give an overview over the current market situation of online shops, create some eligibility criteria for online shops, 7 • 1 Introduction • • evaluate two popular online shop systems with these criteria and report on setting up and administrating the online shop for one customer of the Sylphen company. Chapter one is going to give the overview mentioned above. After some general definitions and a short introduction on electronic Commerce (1. 3 E-Commerce) I will give a short overview over the current market situation of well established online shop systems (commercial and open source).

Furthermore I will introduce the advantages of online shops in chapter 1. 6, their architecture and machinery.

In chapter two I? m trying to create eligibility criteria for online shops. Usability, security and integration are taking center stage in this section. Besides I am going to report on renowned certification agencies and their basic requirements on online shops as well as integrating the software into existing business processes. Chapter three deals with the evaluation of two shop systems based on the developed criteria. It tries to point out which system should be used under certain circumstances.

Finally the practical part of this thesis is handled in chapter four: It uses chapters two and three as a groundwork and displays the steps of choosing, setting up and „pre-administrating” an online shop for the GGEW-net, a customer of the Sylphen limited liability company. Problems and highlights during any of the necessary steps handling an online shop system (installation, configuration, customization and administration) will be pointed out in this chapter. This thesis only reports on „out-of-the-box” online shops which one can manage completely on his1 own.

In my opinion such systems offer multiple advantages on customizing, administrating and designing one? s shop in opposite to completely designed and configured hosted online shops. I will try to balance reasons for using a high cost commercial shop system on the one hand and for using an open source shop system on the other. Both systems surely offer pros and cons and this thesis will give an overview and help choosing an adequate shop system for ones needs.

1 I chose to use the masculine form in this thesis whenever I write in 3 rd person.

There are no dincriminating intentions on the female gender but rather priority is given to the simplicity of writing this thesis. 8 1 Introduction 1. 3 E-Commerce The following drawing shows the different sectors of E-Commerce, as Merz describes them (cf. [Merz02], p.

24). He defines E-Commerce as „assistance of trading activities via communication networks”. B2C business B2B B2 A/ A2 B consumer C2C A2 C administration Drawing 1: E-Commerce by [Merz02] My thesis deals with one specific section of E-Commerce – the eB2C2 sector.

This mearns that I would like to highlight legal E-Commerce via the internet using software especially designed for online trading. The typical way of buying goods offline (and eB2C respectively) brings up four different steps which have to be passed through before a product or good is bought: 1.

Negotiation You cannot exactly call this step negotiation, because you do not really negotiate. In fact you are just gathering information during this step via descriptions or images of articles or by reading online discussion forums about it.

But the word negotiation in some way mirrors what you do before you buy an article in „offline” transactions. 2. Conclusion of the contract In this step you typically accept the offerer? s general terms and conditions before you send him your order- and payment information by clicking the „order”-button in the online shop.

After this the offerer gives his confirmation of your order and informs you about the payment. 2 eB2C = electronic business to consumer. Of course there are more sections, namely business to business, consumer to consumer (e. g. Bay), administration to business, business to administration and administration to consumer. 9 1 Introduction 3.

Transaction During the transaction you usually pay your goods and the offerer ships them when he receives the payment. 3 At this point the contract is made because both parties have agreed to it. The customer agrees by making the payment under the general terms and conditions, the offerer by shipping the goods. 4. After sales management A company has to take care about its customer relationships after a complete transaction in case of reclamations or retours.

Maybe the customer receives newsletters about new products, product updates or products related to his last order.

A good customer relationships management (CRM) is necessary in any kind of shops (online or offline). 1. 4 Why to use E-Commerce As per [TNS06], with 32 billion Euro Germany „[…

]is the biggest online retail market in Europe[. ]” and as per EITO4 the expected sales until 2008 are about 90 billion Euro and 50% of the German internet users buy products via the internet. So Germany has got the second place in Europe. Thus the importance of the internet as a distribution channel has gone up.

Looking at the E-Commerce users in Germany Illustration 1 shows, that germany is far above the average of E-Commerce users concerning the country of reference.

Illustration 1: Position of Germany in an international contrast by [TNS07] 3 4 There are different payment procedures like PayPal, credit cards, invoice, electronic cash, etc. European Information Technology Observatory 10 1 Introduction Meanwhile customers simply expect to go shopping in an online store. The typical ways of offline and online shopping are being merged more and more and the trends are going to „multi-channel-shopping”.

Very often information about the product is drawn offline e. g. in a book store, followed by a price comparison in the different online stores available.

Finally the book is bought at an adequate (online) store with best conditions. 5 So the customers appreciate to be able to go shopping in an online store additionally to the classic offline shopping. Looking at generation 50+ (called „Silver Surfers”) as in [UM07] you can notice a behavior just the other way round. Customers of online travelling stores often abort the booking if any unexpected mistakes or inconsistencies during the checkout process occur.

It is also important to mention that the cheapest online store does not imply to be the best. Again the Silver Surfers have to be considered because they usually have sufficient funds and are not impressed by slogans like „Geiz ist geil ” or „Es geht immer billiger [.

. ]”. Customers also take great care in choosing an online store and especially whom they offer their personal data. So the company has got to be reliable and offer e. g. secure connections (https://.

.. ) for submitting credit card information and other sensitive personal data.

Considering the facts we can say that E-Commerce is a need nowadays but does not always result in success. Online shops enable companies to develop foreign markets and if they are set up properly they are a powerful utility to gain profit. In [WIKI_L_T] Chris Anderson argues „[.

.. ]that products that are in low demand or have low sales volume can collectively make up a market share that rivals or exceeds the relatively few current bestsellers and blockbusters, if the store or distribution channel is large enough. ” 5 This is not about ripping off the vintage retail markets but rather about sorting out ones best conditions.

According to this, customers can also use the different online stores for collecting their information and finally buy their products in retail markets (cf.

[TNS05], p. 339). 11 1 Introduction Illustration 2: Long Tail by [WIKI_L_T] This mearns, that there is few demand for niche products in restricted areas. The internet is free6 of restrictions so you can reach quite a lot of people all over the world and sell these niche products to everyone who demands them. Furthermore you can evaluate your customer? s preferences and adapt your choice of products, track users, send newsletters and check if they result in orders and a lot more.

The internet offers great chances to publish information about a company very easily and quickly and enables customers to have an interactive contact which will hopefully end up in good customer relationships. 1. 5 Market situation There is an abundance of online shop systems available. They are going from open source products up to hundreds of thousands of Euro. Depending on the needs and features one has to choose a suitable system.

Table 1 shows a small overview of wellestablished shop systems and their prices. 6 International ex-/import conditions, shipping costs or common laws may of course not be disregarded. 12 Introduction OS Commerce xt:Commerce * * Solid webshop for small stores 98,-€ optional support; easy template system Poor in proportion to the price Solid webshop; a little out of date State of the extensions art webshop; modular Open source Open source < 100,- € ? 830,- € ? 950,- € ? 1. 070,- € ? 2. 380,- € 240,- to 1.

500,- € 500,- to 1. 000,- € ? 420,- € 7 1&1 Webshop Omeco Webshop* Oxid Eshop PE* Aconon Smartstore. biz* Mondo Shop* Sage GS Shop Intershop * Professional webshop for high requirements Exemplary search engine; good usability Client-server architecture; Top dog of shop systems (Otto, T-Com,…


Epages 5 Merchant* Great administration, easy customizing > 50. 000,- € Table 1: Overview shop systems (Data from [IWB08/07],[IWB14/07] and [IWB19/07]) All shop systems – except Intershop because8 of being the top-dog – have poor ways to manage additional content caused by the intention of most manufacturers to offer „stand alone” online stores. They concentrate on shop features instead of wasting time to implement a complete (W)CMS9. There are more or less suitable implementations of simple (W)CMS in the different shops pperforming their tasks acceptably. Further information about an integration in a WCMS will be given in chapter 2.

Integration. 1. 6 Advantages of online shops You could say, when using E-Commerce there are several advantages in offering your products in an online shop. The first ones which may come to one? s mind could be a worldwide availability of your store. Other ones could be e.

g. the lack of • • • business premises (including their hires), employees and stocks. The shop software is already prepared best for a certification by Trusted Shops. (see chapter 2. 2 Certification) Intershop ensures high availability and high performance e.

g. in the OTTO webshop that denotes 100 orders per second at peak loads.

Intershop clearly says: „We do not want to offer a CMS, but if our customers wish to manage additional content in their shop, we offer them different solutions for the integration. ” That is just because they have to do this to achieve (or increase) customer satisfaction. (Web) Content Management System * 7 8 9 13 1 Introduction But if we look a little closer into the details we encounter that the things you cannot renounce are the ones just mentioned above. In fact you do need stocks, employees and mostly even business premises.

Passing through your products from your suppliers directly to the customers is nearly impossible.

In addition to that you cannot disregard a huge amount of employees that manage e. g. orders, newsletters, after sales, shipping returns or a hotline. A lot of companies already have business premises in which they have distributed their products before starting an online shop.

And last but not least you have to be aware of the fact that your online shop is not available for everyone in the world. A worldwide selling of your products comes along with different taxes, shipping costs, different export/import conditions and fees and a multilingual appearance of your shop.

Nevertheless online shops offer a great oopportunity of distributing any kind of hard and soft-goods10. One offers a direct comparability with opponents, the shop is available „twenty-four-seven” and dealers can „quick-response” on their customers needs and wishes. Furthermore one can inform customers about new products, updates, releases and special offers using an iintegrated newsletter system of the shop.

Statistics will inform about top sellers and flops and logged search queries (created by e. g. a web analysis tool) can be hints on the customer? s preferences.

ECONDA Shop Monitor11 for instance is a monitoring tool that already comes along with xt:Commerce 3. 0. 4 SP2 in a fourteen day trial version.

But the so called „web analysis” basically aims on the understanding of customers? movements through a website12. An aborted checkout process could be caused by simply gathering shipping information or by a mistrust against the shop because of an insecure connection during the checkout process. The latter is hard to find out and becomes obvious not until this behavior is discovered at multiple customers (cf. [CT22/07]).

Besides all those advantages the invention of a shop system comes along with several costs. Maybe one has to employ additional staff to manage the more comprehensive work or spend some funds to educate them.

10 11 12 Hard-goods are every kind of products you can touch. Soft-goods are products like software, musicdownloads, programs or even holiday trips. http://www. econda. de (reviewed on 2007, December 31st) More precisely it is about collecting movement data and aggregating these data to certain user groups (and not a single user) that behave in a certain way. 14 1 Introduction 1.

7 Architectures

Specializing in eB2C Merz gives following model of processing steps in an online shop: login navigate in catalog product page add to cart view cart Drawing 2: process steps of an online shop by Merz ordering info payment info ordering download delivery conditions of use tracking & tracing Online shops usually consist of a collection of scripts, templates and server components and their data are stored in a relational database management system (RDBMS). The middleware displays the database contents on HTML pages. The different shop systems differ in the script languages partly standardized partly proprietary.