The main areas where the System-related decisions are to be made are:
Web site administration, maintenance and service. Availability of technical and service personnel on a 24-hour, 7 days a week basis is the basic requirement for a reliable site.
Web server hosting and choice of the Internet Service Provider. External hosting is a popular option mainly for small and medium-size organisations.
Site construction. Constructing an above the average, transactional E-Commerce site requires a substantial initial investment. Outsourcing this activity is usual, there are however many editing tools available for low-budget solutions. Presentation quality, user friendliness, easy navigation, browser independence and speed are important success factors determining the choice of programming and development tools.
Content management. Important elements of content management are the frequent reviewing and updating of the content in response to constantly changing customer needs, market conditions, competitive strategies and market trends as well as the decentralisation of the Web site updating procedures. The later requires training and empowerment of employees of different departments in managing the site data under their responsibility and is needed for avoiding bureaucratic procedures harmful for the content quality.
Site security. Protection against any forms of malicious attacks as well as transaction and customer data safety are paramount concerns of E-Commerce managers and online customers alike. Identifying the proper security level for each content category is a sensitive issue since increasing security levels usually result in reduced functionality or diminishing user friendliness. A good approach is customising security levels on the different site elements therefore avoiding unnecessary safety overdoses while the sensitive data is adequately protected with minimum functionality sacrifice.
Transaction functionality. The main elements here are the construction of communication interfaces, the choice of the transaction and payment technology, the testing and administration of the system.
Collection, processing and dissemination of the Web site traffic and transaction data. This type of data fulfils, next to its administrative significance, an important commercial role as the vital input for evaluating the site performance, testing new ideas or assessing the effect of promotional activities.
System backup. A sound back-up mechanism is vital for Internet organisations expected to be operational on an around-the-clock availability basis. Technical problems and system failures must be quickly addressed with the minimum operational disruption.
Finally the site technical management must regularly and in collaboration with the commercial management identify and evaluate new technologies and new available products that could upgrade the site performance, enhance the customer experience and effectuate operational economies.
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The Original 4S Web Marketing Mix paper