By Jim Christensen
When the time is right for you to begin selling over the Internet, there are some basic questions you must ask yourself to determine the best way to proceed. If your company is small, or the number of products you sell is small, you should consider a hosted solution such as Microsoft bCentral (www.bcentral.com). bCentral provides a complete, hosted Internet solution for small business for a modest monthly or annual fee.
At the other extreme, if you plan to build and operate a serious enterprise-level retail Web site, chances are you want to have the freedom to customize the site to your particular requirements and maintain the control offered by hosting the site in your own data center.
You can hire e-commerce experts to build the site for you, or perhaps you have in-house staff who possess the necessary skills to build such a site. Regardless of who you employ to build the site, starting retail Web site development from scratch makes much less sense today than it did just a few years ago. This chapter explains how Microsoft Commerce Server can be used to significantly reduce the amount of work and risk involved in creating an enterprise-level retail Web site by first taking a careful look at the business problem to be solved from various perspectives, and then by discussing how Commerce Server addresses these problems. The chapter is divided into the following four sections:
This chapter begins with a high-level discussion of the business problem and Microsoft's solution to it, and eventually delves into some coding examples in the Implementation Section, thus, some readers will not want to read to the very end.