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Electronic Commerce Architecture Series

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Advantages vs Disadvantages of Electronic Commerce for a Small CompanyAuthor
  1. The buyer and the seller never see each other. For a small company, this can be an enormous advantage. Every small startup company wants to look substantial enough to be credible to a major buyer. Behind the facade of a web site, a one person company can look like IBM or BP or Toyota or LG.
  2. Some or all of the sales transaction can be automated. Small companies cannot afford to hire many employees. It is critical to extend the sales reach of few employees they do hire.
  3. Electronic commerce can make a small company more visible. This can happen in several ways.
    • Search engines will find and index a well designed web site
    • Various registries can facilitate the discovery of the small company's products

None of these advantages come free. They require infrastructure that is complex and potentially, very expensive.

  1. A presence on the web. I can personally attest to the fact that creating and maintaining a web site is work!
  2. The ability to accept electronic payments. This can take the form of
    • Credit cards
    • Electronic funds transfers
    • Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) A more detailed discussion is here
  3. Software architecture knowledge to include
    • Web Services
    • Service Oriented Architecture (SOA)
    • Knowqledge of internet security and computer security

While the barriers are formidable, the issue is hardly a new one for a small company. That very barrier becomes a tool. Throughout the last two centuries, small companies have used technical skill as a way to overcome a lack of access to financial capital. Any company, anywhere in the world, can use electronic commerce to its advantage if the company is willing to put the effort into learning the technology. Although there is currently no easy way to keep track of the enormous amount of knowledge required, there are ways to deal with some of the software issues.

  • Wikipedia is a good place to learn what the terms mean
  • OASIS is a good source for a list of international standards

Arthur Kevin McGrath


September 13, 2005


The author is an engineer with the consulting firm, Contract Engineers. He has consulted and lectured extensively since 1987 about the infrastructure that makes electronic commerce possible

Photograph of the author


For anything involving security issues on the Web, Kelvin Lawrence is about as good a reference as you can find. He is IBM's Chief Technical Officer for Emerging Internet Standards. This is one of many presentations Kelvin has made on the topic of electronic commerce security. Security issues article

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