DC Web Hosting home domain registration   


Shoppers   |   Suppliers   |   Solutions   |   Technology Background

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past few years, you've probably heard a lot of talk about electronic commerce. Electronic commerce, also referred to as e-commerce, e-business and even e-tailing, is basically the buying and selling of goods and services over the Internet - and in particular, the World Wide Web. That's pretty much all it is! So why all the hype? Several reasons.



From the customers' perspective, there are many advantages to shopping online, including:
  • They can purchase goods without leaving their home or office.
  • Because the Internet has no national boundaries, they can also shop anywhere in the world - and more competition means better prices (not to mention the ease of finding those "hard to get" items).
  • The Internet is open 24 hours a day - 7 days a week, meaning customers can shop anywhere any time.
  • The Internet is a great resource for information - allowing consumers to make informed choices.
  • The speed of shopping online suits today's busy lifestyle.

Hints and Tips for shoppers:

If you intend shopping online - make sure the site uses a secure server. Without it - its not safe to use your credit card.

Before purchasing anything online - make sure you've considered all costs involved - particularly if purchasing from overseas. Don't forget to take into account exchange rates and delivery costs.



Of course, the customer isn't the only winner... Advantages for store-owners include:
  • Greatly increased customer base!  The whole world is now a potential customer.
  • Its much cheaper to create a "virtual store" online, than it is to start one in a physical location.  (And in the case of Global Web Stores, your store is created for free!)
  • Running a virtual store is much cheaper too!  It can be open 24x7 - and store owners don't need to employ someone to man the store... it almost runs itself.
  • Its very easy to create a professional image online - no matter how small the store is.  This allows small businesses to operate on a level footing with the big guys.
  • Virtual shop-fronts aren't just for existing stores to move into... Many new businesses based entirely on Internet sales are popping up every day. Its also much easier to find and sell to niche markets.

E-commerce Solutions (suppliers)

In order to maximise security, client confidence and efficiency - there are a few precautions a store-owner must take. In addition to providing a secure environment for your clients - you need to protect yourself from stolen/fake credit details and the like. There are a number of solutions to assist in this regard, including:
  • Secure server: Make sure your store processes orders through a secure server. This encrypts the data they send so that it can't be read by unauthorised individuals. Secure server addresses begin with "https" instead of "http". You don't have to have your own server to utilise this feature. See our e-commerce solutions page for more information.
  • Credit card checking: As a security measure - the last digit on most credit cards are mathematically calculated on the basis of previous digits. A combination of JavaScript/CGI scripting can verify the validity of a credit card number based on this property (but not whether the credit card itself is valid, or stolen, etc.) This can safe a lot of time for the store-owner, who will not need to process obviously fake cards.
  • Transaction server: Normally - when the customer submits credit card details, the store-owner must manually process the order (just like a mail order). A transaction server allows credit cards to be processed live online - without manual intervention. Needless to say, this saves the merchant a lot of time - and adds an extra level of security for the shopper, since the merchant does not even need to see the credit card number!

If you are thinking of selling products or services on-line - there are many options available. We recommend that you visit our e-commerce solutions page for more detailed information.


Secure e-commerce: How does it work? How safe is it?

Most e-commerce sites work the same way... you browse the contents of the store, selecting items you wish to purchase by adding them to a "virtual shopping cart".  When you're finished shopping, you have to provide your payment details through an online form.  The question that many people have is: How safe are the details they submit?  If your credit card details are being sent half way around the world - couldn't anyone take a look at it ? E-commerce wasn't very old before people started taking these concerns seriously.  Security issues that needed to be addressed included:
  • Encryption - This is basically a way of scrambling the information so other people can't read it - so that only the person you sent the details to, can actually read the information you sent them.  This is vital for information such as credit card numbers.
  • Authentication - ensuring that someone is who they say they are. 
  • Data Integrity - preventing data from being modified along its journey.

SSL to the rescue

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is a protocol designed by Netscape to address the above issues.  It didn't take long for this protocol to become standard - and is now supported by most web browsersa, including Netscape (of course) and Microsoft Internet Explorer.

For more technical details on how SSL works, click here.