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I am in the process to start Product Development for E-commerce and Online Retail domain but before starting I would like to know what are the biggest challenges faced by current state of Art E-Commerce Application ?

Also I have not experience building e-commerce products and so what things should I keep in mind before developing one ?

Is there are books, articles, blogs outside which I should refer to gain some knowledge before starting out ?

Update: What are you thoughts on the recommendation engines for ecommerce applications ? What challenges we have with current state of recommendations engines for ecommerce web application and how can we overcome them ?

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put on hold as primarily opinion-based by MichaelT, GlenH7, Bart van Ingen Schenau, Robert Harvey, gnat 14 hours ago

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

    
I'd separate the "recommendation engine" question into a second question. –  blueberryfields Jan 31 '11 at 2:00
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3 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Try using some first, I really recommend you try VirtueMart and Magento.

I'd guess the most complex things to be managed and implemented are:

  • Configurable items
  • Complex items
  • Rule based discounts (not just a code)
  • Supplier integration
  • Multiple stores
  • Custom fields for types of products and advanced search using these
  • Payment integration
  • Internationalization
  • Customer service workflow integration
  • Inventory handling
  • Wishlists
  • Web services (for integrating other software, from mobile applications to ERPs)

Magento does these really nicely, but it is quite a heavy web system. VirtueMart is lighter, and runs on Joomla (a very nice CMS).

My general advice is to first try these systems and learn about them. I gained a lot of insight when I looked into Magento's database diagram:

Magento DB

Good luck


EDIT: Regarding product recommendations, I'd guess the main challenge is the actual reach of such recommendations, and for that, I would leverage the power of social networks (e.g. facebook & twitter integration).

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Are this system open source ? Can I have access to their source code ? –  Rachel Jan 30 '11 at 20:57
    
Yes they are, get magento here: magentocommerce.com/download , and virtuemart here virtuemart.net/downloads . For virtuemart you need Joomla, also open source, and you can get it here: joomlacode.org/gf/download/frsrelease/13105/57240/… –  dukeofgaming Jan 30 '11 at 21:00
    
Great, is there a way I can implement recommendations using this Ecommerce Solutions ? –  Rachel Jan 30 '11 at 21:03
    
+1 for looking at Magento. Some serious code in there for learning ecommerce. –  Ryan Hayes Jan 30 '11 at 21:04
    
All what I said can be done with Magento. Some of it can be done with VirtueMart (and existing plugins, for example, the complex items). –  dukeofgaming Jan 30 '11 at 21:06
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I can think of the two problem domains which may represent a challenge. Not a technical, but an organizational one:

  1. Satisfying local and especially international laws on security and personal data protection

  2. Getting customer support in different languages at appropriate hours

As far as the technical side is concerned, all can be done is just a matter of effort.

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One of the newer challenges is architecting the solution in such a way that it optimizes its use of the cloud.

Ex.: The payment and shopping cart system of Amazon.com won't need the extreme scalability of the catalog portion, which has millions and millions of views per day. Portions of the webapp need to be broken up in such a way that parts that fluctuate individually in regard to a need for resources, can be scaled up or down independently.

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Note: The "cloud" isn't THAT new. Larger organizations have been using cloud strategies internally for years. –  Ryan Hayes Jan 30 '11 at 20:55
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The cloud most of the time is marketing speak for the internet. Closing your implementation to a proprietary platform is most of the time not a smart move, so be careful. –  dukeofgaming Jan 30 '11 at 21:00
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