Academic journal article Journal of Theoretical and Applied Electronic Commerce Research

A Service-Oriented E-Commerce Reference Architecture

Academic journal article Journal of Theoretical and Applied Electronic Commerce Research

A Service-Oriented E-Commerce Reference Architecture

Article excerpt

1 Introduction

Market reports show a significant (above average) increase of online sales. While traditional retail sales are declining, [9] reports a continuous growth in the e-commerce market since 2007 with a raise of 8% in the first quarter of 2013. The success of this relatively new distribution channel seems to be dependent on the supply-chain performance from the supplier to the package delivery service. Without a proper coordination of these processes, effects like out-ofstock or higher prices will influence the customer satisfaction, customer loyalty [59], [70], and, eventually, the retailer's financial performance [78].

This coordination is made possible for each and every e-commerce company by different software components with specific functionality. A single e-commerce transaction involves many software components that provide different services such as searching and browsing products, initiating a transaction or payment of an order. Often these components are bundled into a single software application which makes it challenging to change or add services to the existing landscape. However, in recent years the lack of flexibility of the monolithic software platforms has been addressed through a new software development paradigm, namely the service-oriented architecture approach [54].

Similar to the growth of the online market, the sheer amount of approaches and technologies has increased as well. This makes the development of an aligned, change responsive, and efficient software architecture more difficult. Especially small retailers that want to establish an e-commerce channel along with their traditional business struggle to overlook the large amount of available products and architectures, from both the functional and technical expertise points of view. The emergence of technologies such as cloud computing, and approaches like service-orientation complement and compensate traditional silo applications, but still require a profound understanding of many technical and architectural aspects.

The change and the variety of the user needs is another source of challenge. One can expect, that users shift more and more in their expectations from an old-fashioned web application to a fully-functioning mobile application. With this development offline and online shopping experience will merge and bring new challenges and opportunities for retailers. According to [25], 56% of the European Union citizenships are expected to buy goods using e-commerce in 2015. Following the internationalization, additional challenges and competition for e-commerce companies exist. These challenges range from supply, delivery to the payment issues. According to [75], the dropout rate because of the mode of payment varies between 1% and 88%. Given the fact that the preference for different modes of payment differs significantly per country (e.g., the Dutch's prefer their national solution iDEAL [10] while Germans prefer to purchase on account [75]), satisfying the customer is an ongoing challenge.

The emerging challenges can be summarized, as lack of:

*Flexibility of the existing, monolithic systems

*Insight into all application and technology components due to the lack of existing reference architectures

*Knowledge regarding the impact of emerging technologies on current architectures

*Integration between online and offline channels

The concept of service-orientation is able to overcome these challenges as it makes currently bundled services explicit, and gives insights into what components existing architectures are built upon. It also allows to plan and implement new technologies and the integration with other previously separated systems. In order to come up with a suitable service-oriented reference model for e-commerce first an overview of all the architectural building blocks and offerings is required. Such an overview allows for making the right choices when designing an e-commerce architecture and is therefore put forward as research goal of this study. …

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