Hi guys :?:
I'm in my final year and I'm supposed to do an eCommerce assignment, but I'm new to eCommerce world.
So I just need some hints and guidance to work on this assignment. I have very short time to do it, so I just need your kind help to guide to the right, direct and easy way to finish it.
I appreciate any comments or help.
THE PROBLEM SCENARIO
Woolsmorth is a large retail company specialising in groceries and clothing. It was founded in 1974
and currently has more than 200 department stores in the UK. The company has been very
successful over many years but is now facing new challenges because of the credit crunch.
Company Headquarters is located in central London. Many of the business functions are dispersed
around the country as Divisions: Sales in Birmingham, Human Resources in London, Customer
Relations in Northampton, etc. All the Divisions have their own internal Local Area Networks,
connected to Headquarters by a variety of wide area platforms. The company does not manufacture
goods in its own right: short-term contracts are made with a large number of suppliers for various
clothing lines and for groceries. Consequently, some network links have been developed for
communications with suppliers, and the larger suppliers are required to carry out all transactions with
Woolsmorth using EDI. There is still, however, a significant reliance on Sales staff to make visits to
suppliers in order to negotiate contracts, approve new product lines and generally to troubleshoot.
In order to support its retail activities, Woolsmorth has a significantly-sized, but somewhat fragmented
internal networking and telecommunications infrastructure in place. This has been built up
incrementally over the last 35 years, starting with a Data Processing Centre which was located in
Walsall (West Midlands). The Data Processing Centre is still the centre of many of the company’s
transaction processing activities. The various internal networks were put in place at different times;
using components purchased from a variety of vendors, and comprise a miscellany of topologies and
network operating systems. This situation has led to some problems of inter-networking, with
consequent loss or corruption of data.
In 1990, in response to increased building and rental costs, the company decided to supplement its
department store activities by initiating catalogue sales. Customers would be sent a catalogue by
post and order forms would be returned to an Order Processing Centre in Sales Division in
Birmingham. From there, orders would be forwarded to the Data Processing Centre in Walsall, by
means of a leased line arrangement. The catalogue arm of the business is proving less profitable
than in recent years, partly due to competition from rival companies which have moved into ecommerce
and online sales, and partly due to delays and errors in fulfilling customer orders.
In 1995, the company decided to open some stores in selected European locations. This has been
successful to the extent that extra revenues have been generated, but unexpected costs have also
been incurred. The problems appear to relate to a number of factors, such as delays caused by the
need for key staff to travel to these locations to train and otherwise to communicate with the local
staff. The company currently has 10 European outlets, mainly in France, Germany and the
In the last two years, Woolsmorth has experienced falling sales, which has come as something as a
shock to the company. Immediate responses to this problem included dramatic, if somewhat
haphazard price reductions, but this had limited success. Costs also rose as a consequence of
holding large quantities of unsold stock. The company has prided itself on its unique culture which
has fostered staff welfare and hands-on management, rather than reliance on, for example,
distributed Management Information Systems supporting management decision making.
A new Chief Executive was appointed in 2005 and put forward a new business strategy which
attempted to “modernise” the management culture and which emphasised the following key points:
• There is a need to increase revenues by venturing into online sales
• The customer base must be expanded, whilst existing customers must be retained (one current
initiative here is the introduction of a line of designer clothes: some senior management have
worries that this might alienate the more traditional customer)
• There is a need to reduce costs
The Chief Executive has some sympathy with the notion that the new business strategy needs to be
underpinned by high quality internal networks and systems, but not all senior management share this
Some of the requirements as provided by the company are as follows:
1. Fully integrated and fully interactive E-commerce solution which includes order processing
(from receiving the order to issuing invoices and delivering goods to the customers).
2. Interactive “Blog” where users/customers write their comments/feedback about various
products they buy.
You are invited, as an experienced consultant, to put together a strategic plan and a technical report
(the final report), on the basis of the evidence supplied in this brief. The plan should include the
following deliverables (These should conform to sections of your report):
1. An identification and prioritisation of the problems facing the organisation A rationale needs to
accompany your identification of problems
2. Recommended solutions to identified problems in terms of:
a. Possible design approaches (prototypes) to developing an e-commerce website for the
b. Highly secure interface which allows customers to browse and login to do the following:
i. Browse online catalogue
ii. Create online eWallets
iii. Choose items in a basket
iv. proceed to checkout in a secure mode and choose different payment methods
v. receive confirmation email, once the order has been submitted.
vi. Interactive “Blog” where users/customers write their comments/feedback about
various products they buy
c. An Enquiries System that deals with customer queries and problems.
d. Your report should also contain a realistic budget proposal which covers the following
a) Set up and Development costs
b) Maintenance costs
3. The technologies (hardware and software) required to develop:
a. The front-end
b. The back-end infra structure
4. The design (including legal and accessibility issues) and development approach:
o This should include some sample pages to demonstrate the design approach used and a
sample database - YOU ARE NOT REQUIRED TO IMPLEMENT A FULLY FUNCTIONAL ECOMMERCE
o The sample pages can be in HTML. There is no need to include any connectivity to the
o All images and sample downloads must be free of copyright.
5. Security considerations.