#FridayFive: Solution Architecture


Solution Architect Experts Jilani Syed and Ritesh Bajaj discuss the changing space of eBusiness implementations.

1. What are the pros and cons of responsive sites versus dedicated mobile sites?

Responsive sites use the same templates for desktop, mobile and tablet devices. The page renditions alter based on the form factor and screen resolution. Components on the page are hidden as the site is displayed on smaller devices. While this requires more complex html development and extensive testing across devices, the advantage is that the design and experience of the site is maintained across different devices and the templates are only developed once.

With dedicated mobile sites, additional templates need to be created specifically for mobile devices and require additional development effort for front-end and back-end code. Every time a CMS template is updated on the desktop site, the corresponding change needs to be made on the mobile site template.


2. The current focus in B2B is to focus more on the customer and incorporate B2C type features. What are a few of these crossover functions and how does B2B use them differently than B2C?

As B2B sites get more mature they are leveraging aspects of B2C sites to offer their customers similar features. B2B sites that offer custom products are becoming easier to use, which makes ordering products simpler and provides customers with more familiar tools. They augment these feature for their B2B customer by allowing the ordering of large quantities, offering offline payment methods like purchase orders, and applying workflows for the order to get approved before fulfillment. B2B clients are also moving administration functions like customer profiles and hierarchical account management from their backend ERP systems to the eCommerce platform.

For companies that have both B2B and B2C sites, they should look to expand the B2B site by leveraging the design and feature set of the B2C site. This will maintain the brand and user experience across the different customers and reduce cost for implementation.


3. Which are the most common compliances encountered in today’s eBusiness implementations?

PCI and SOX compliance are the most common types of compliance that we encounter during eCommerce implementations. PCI stands for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, which provides guidelines for how customer payment information is saved in systems. There are many aspects to being PCI compliant, but the most important one is that companies should not save customer payment information that can be exploited and reused by hackers. PCI compliance also requires that all pages on the site that accept or display sensitive customer information should be secured (https) using SSL certificates.

SOX (Sarbanes-Oxley) compliance requires public companies to hire independent audit firms for all their accounting and provide disclosures to the markets. Additionally, it requires systems to be built with redundancies, adequate access control,­­­­ and protocol so all transactions are recorded correctly and approved.


4. As we continue to build ecommerce sites that integrate with several other systems, how do we ensure performance and account for fallbacks?

Every ecommerce system integrates with other systems to exchange and retrieve information. These systems could be internal to the organization like ERP systems or external third party vendor systems. As we build integrations into the platform, we have to ensure that the integration touch points don’t cause performance to deteriorate and impact customer experience. We can prevent this by performing load testing using real world scenarios and real world site traffic, which provides us with good insight into the capabilities of the different systems.

In a case of non-critical information like Address Verification systems, fallback measures should be in place if the system is down or non-responsive. Batch jobs can be written to review the orders that were placed during this time and attempt to retrieve the information once the systems are back up. The goal should be to enable the transaction to go through unless something critical happens.


5. With all companies shifting towards an Omni-channel customer experience, what are some of the challenges that need to be overcome to achieve it?

Today’s customers expect a seamless shopping experience across a brand’s multiple channels. It is expected that the company’s systems and information share in a secure manner, so a customer’s needs can be handled efficiently, conveniently, and correctly on any channel.

It is getting all the more important for the transactional information to be shared across the different channels so they can be found and reviewed. In the case of a return this ensures that a customer gets a refund for the exact amount they paid. Similarly, taxes paid are also refunded based on what the customer paid and not based on store or channel of return. As items are ordered and fulfilled on different channels, it is important to keep track of inventory to prevent cannibalization.

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