Customizable E-Commerce: Introduction, Application and Proposition

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1 Customizable E-Commerce: Introduction, Application and Proposition Zheng QIN, Lei ZHANG (Xi an Jiaotong University, Xi an , Shannxi, China) Abstract: E-commerce has taken the world into a revolutionary tide. With the great success of e-commerce, there are also challenges. To meet individual user s demand, customizable e-commerce is quite in need. It has significance to the development of e-commerce and has the characteristics and advantages compared with traditional e-commerce. This paper gives a vast application territory customizable e-commerce and proposes some suggestions for the further advancement of e-commerce in China. Key Words: e-commerce; customizable; application 1. E-COMMERCE OVERVIEW An overall revolutionary wave of e-commerce has taken the world into a new extraordinary different decade. According to OECD, e-commerce continues to show explosive growth rates in OECD area, supported by a new report made in April In this report, it indicates this trend by the examination of Internet infrastructure. Secure servers and Internet hosts are the two key indicators of Internet development and may be used as one potential indicator of e-commerce development. By April 2000, there were more than 74,000 secure servers in the OECD area, which meant that during the whole past year 1999, the growth of this indicator increased by 95 per cent, pointed out by the report. And between July 1999 and January 2000, the number of Internet hosts increased from 52 million to 70 million, and kept on increasing to 88 million by May 2000, referring to Internet Software Consortium (ISC) and Telcordia s daily. And in this report, it also lists the leading countries in e-commerce of the world. They are the United Sates, Iceland, Australia, and New Zealand. What s more, e-commerce in Europe is developing fast and almost leading the world behind the United States. At the same time, e-commerce in China has grown to a totally new stage. Firstly, the nation paid much attention to the information technology infrastructure. Secondly, many universities and institutes have applied to the research on e-commerce, and conferences on e-commerce have been taken place all over the country. Thirdly, e-commerce applications have been overwhelmingly spread out by enterprises and websites. In a word, e-commerce is changing the way business is done and has shown its powerful strength to influence the people s life-style. 2. BACKGROUND OF CUSTOMIZABLE E-COMMERCE What makes e-commerce so dazzling is that it has fundamentally altered the principle of the whole world. E-commerce provides people another channel to communicate, offers companies a method to redesign, and shows governments a blueprint to reform. Dreams that were unbelievable years ago are coming true. Now it s facile and realistic to communicate with others not knowing

2 who he or she is, and it s convenient and comfortable to work staying at home. What s more, shopping or amusing online is nothing strange for many people, and meeting online is effective and efficient for modern companies. However, it s not doubtable that there are still some challenges and inhibitors during the developing period of e-commerce. According to StratagyWeek.Com, a famous American website, by 2005, e-commerce websites will shrink to less than 20 per cent of now days, and all the others will go bankrupt. In its report, it also points out that there is a crisis of development in e-commerce territory. Many e-commerce website are lacking of reasonable programming while under illusion about the future, so they are in swamp to be confronted with the furious competition in nearly future. Amazon, for example, the largest American online retail dealer, has decided to transform its operating mode. Allied with Wal-Mart, the most powerful global retailer, means that it will pay much more attention to BtoB other than BtoC, thus the customers will be transferred to its partners instead of contacting with itself directly. In China, BtoC is still in testing and examining period, mainly confined to the backward domestic infrastructure, such as bandwidth, payment system, logistics and so on. Gap also exists in BtoB compared with some developed foreign countries. So it s obvious that e-commerce can t manifest its advantage thoroughly in China because of the whole unfavorable environment. How to catch up with the developed countries and how to do it should be further investigated and discussed. No matter how, there must be driving forces to promote advancement of e-commerce, including technical and theoretical forces, which are supporting platforms for e-commerce s permanent development. Without these, e-commerce has to stop and be wrack and ruin. 3. CUSTOMIZABLE E-COMMERCE AND ITS CHARACTERISTICS Customizable e-commerce is advanced level of e-commerce adapt to the current world. The final goal of e-commerce is to satisfy people s demands, consists of that in different levels. Basing on the history of e-commerce, it stayed at a low level acting as a high-class communication instrument and offered simple business functions, that is and EDI. Later on, new technology made it possible to chat, do shopping, auction, amuse or meet in Internet. Though e-commerce of this level exhibited people a new society and made life convenient, it s not perfect enough. The same face and function of e-commerce can t meet different personnel demand and different company s request. Thus, a customizable e-commerce is in need as an advanced level mode. Customizable e-commerce means the system can automatic identify, judge, search and match information according to different demand of individual, company, organization or institute, and submit corresponding functions and services. What s more, this kind of e-commerce system has the ability of self-adaptive, that is, it can adjust with the change of the environment, such as user s demand and technology. Customizable e-commerce has two levels. In primary level user may select business function modules which is needed from all the functions, and then combine and integrate them and put into application. While in higher level, user firstly puts forward demands to the system, and after the system s analysis it returns the user functions aggregate that most matching with the demands. The difference between the two levels lies in the automatic procedure of customizable match, which indicates the real customizable e-commerce.

3 Comparing with traditional e-commerce, customizable e-commerce s characteristics include: Seeking and matching user s individual demand to the most extent while traditional e-commerce only seeking for function. Self-adapting to the undefined environment. Because customizable e-commerce is faced with different demands of individual user, and these demands may be great different and changing with environment, so the undefinition of object, information, demand and the whole environment is the most significant characteristic. To be able to meet the demands, it must have the ability to capture the tiny changes of information, response quickly, comprehend exactly, and correct the system s formula to guarantee the accurate and timely high-quality services. Lessening information flow of network. For compared with traditional e-commerce, customizable e-commerce only need provide user what he need indeed other than all the functions, so it can reduce the information flow in Internet, which is much helpful to the increasingly busy network. 4. APPLICATION STATUS Customizable e-commerce is still in research and far from mature. It s a long way to popularize it abroad. Now days, single website s attempt to use it contributes to its application. Lacking of cooperation, every website tries to provide users full function modules for them to choose from. But if what is needed is not in, there is no way to get it. Customizable e-commerce s applications mainly include the following scope: Online shopping Differing from ordinary online shopping, under this model, the system will collect, arrange and save users information and data about shopping, and through data-mining it analyses the data and gets different user s preference. Then it can show difference but compatible GUI to different users. Amazon has applied this technique into its e-commerce system. Online playing E-commerce websites have a base of many video and audio frequency files for users to select to see or listen to online. It has become a tide of entertainment today. While its shortage is the limitation of file number, so some users special demand can t be meet. MoviesOnline.Com is a successful example of this kind. Company s e-commerce website building The system provided companies program modules that would be used by them. Companies choose what modules they want, and the system help to create a full application program. Also a question is the unexpected function of some a company, and system must be redeveloped if this happened. Best system of this kind is IBM e-commerce solutions, shown as chart 1. Chart 1. IBM customizable e-commerce solutions Mobile e-commerce

4 This new e-commerce application is mainly proposed for WAP, BP and some other new wireless mobile terminal device. XML (extensible Markup Language) and XSL(eXtensible Stylesheet Language) are main techniques to code the web pages shown on these device, and the content of web pages has considered the customizable demands. BroadVision, an American company, has a product named One-to-One can used to fulfill this function perfectly. Besides all above, customizable e-commerce can also be used in these scopes though the real practice has not been taken or is being taken. Accurate information search E-commerce system can automatic search for the most matching information to show users with higher precision by WebPages often browsed by users. So users can liberate from seeking information in Internet and save much time and spirit. Purchase, annexation, recombination of companies Customizable e-commerce system can give companies a well corresponding ecological environment to negotiation, including a series of procedures from searching companies, asking for requests, reacting to responses, linking sites to building a visual meeting room. This is convenient for modern companies to contact with each other. Project bidding During the public bidding progress of a project, e-commerce system can seek right bidders for a specific company or government, and provide correlative information and visual meeting room. Government stocking This is mainly for the trade between government and government, or between government and company. With the development of e-commerce, governments are setting foot in this territory and becoming a main trader. Government stocking requires the highest ratio of quality to price, so it needs the intelligent support of customizable e-commerce. Military affairs application One of the most important application territories of e-commerce is in military affairs, mainly referring to the arrangement of strategic materials. This is significant to the troop s prompt and effective cooperation. Customizable e-commerce can response to the real campaign rapidly and equip the most uniform and powerful battle materials through global. 5. PROPOSITION Customizable e-commerce has a glorious future leading e-commerce to the peak. However, e-commerce is not castle in air, there must be supporting and maintaining systems to ensure the development of e-commerce, which are also required by customizable e-commerce. Such systems include: Researching on fundamental technologies Customizable e-commerce is based on several technologies, such as semantic comprehension in AI, pattern recognition in computer, emulation, queuing theory in OR, graphic theory, network management, and so on. Construction of information infrastructure The level of information infrastructure represents the development stage of e-commerce in a country. Only by investing in information infrastructure and enlarging Internet users, a country can improve customizable e-commerce in a larger scope and serve users better. Improvement of service systems

5 Service systems, especially the logistics, are important condition for e-commerce to implement smoothly. Legislation on e-commerce E-commerce, a bilateral sword building on hi-tech, should be guaranteed by legislation to develop in a healthy way. Brief Introduction of Author: Zheng Qin, PhD of Northwest Technology University, professor of Xi an Jiaotong University and principal of e-commerce institute of Xi an Jiaotong University, was born in His research interests are in the areas of e-commerce, computer integration, distributed computer and complex information systems. Based on his research, he has published more than 10 books and over 40 papers in refereed journals. Lei Zhang, master of Management School of Xi an Jiaotong University, now is devoting himself to the research on e-commerce and computer integration.

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