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The coming of the internet has given rise to e-commerce. In electronic commerce, buyers and sellers do not meet physically as all transactions are done online. Today, customers can access various products online (Chaffey 15). But for them to purchase, customers need to have the right information.
Customers expect to find all the necessary information within a central place with little effort and minimal time. This creates the need for a portal. A portal is an information entry which assists customers in searching and locating information while online (Turban and King 56).
Some of the needs for portals in Electronic Commerce (EC)
The success of e-commerce depends on customers’ capability to search for relevant information about an online product. To cater for this, a business should create a simple portal which customers can easily use (Reynolds 61). Portals play a significant role in promoting business and customer relationships. According to Turban and King (67), portals help customers in searching and navigating the website. Hence, a well-developed portal should help customers in efficiently searching for relevant information.
Portals assist in integrating information from various quarters (Turban and King 89). A portal can go a long way in helping a business make optimal use of information. This can be achieved by making use of innovative techniques such as Unified Content Application Programming Interface (API), and using common programing languages such as Java or C++. Through such, businesses can pool together information from various sources and make it available at a central location easily accessible to the customer.
Portals help in notification and customization (Schneider 84). Notification, also known as push technology, is a technique which allows users to automatically receive alerts such as new promotions or any kind of news without requesting for it.
Customization, which occurs based on users preference, helps in delivering relevant information to the users of the portal. In the end, users only get the content which is specifically meant for their needs. There are several kinds of customization: customization of navigation, customization of material content, and customization of layout (Turban and King 263-65).
Laudon and Traver (68) have observed that portals assist in managing tasks and workflows. Business can use portals in undertaking or managing organizational processes. The function of workflows is to make it possible to automate organizational processes (Turban and King 69).
Therefore, as part and parcel of workflow-automated organizational processes, a portal can notify the user when the user is meant to undertake a certain task. For instance, it can notify the user when a newly launched product has been posted in the company’s website.
Portals are equally important in the area of collaboration and groupware. Groupware ensures that the needed content is availed in the appropriate place in the appropriate mode (Turban and King 268-69). This implies that the users are given the right information they need. Groupware promotes business-client interaction. They can equally assist in promoting informal interactions between a customer and a supplier in business-to-business (B2B) engagements.
Portals assist in integrating business applications. Such applications include application service provider (ASP), and business intelligence (BI) (Turban and King 91). Finally, portals are needed in EC because they provide infrastructural support (Laudon and Traver 118). Experts believe that the infrastructural role is the bedrock of portals and that the other needs merely add onto it. In other words, a good portal will be manageable, scalable, secure, and available.
This study has established that in e-commerce, customers only require a portal from where they can easily acquire relevant information about products with little effort and minimal time. The need for portals in electronic commerce arises because of various reasons. Portals help in searching and navigating information, as well as in integrating information from various quarters (Turban and King 89).
Other than notifying a customer and in customizing certain information based on customer preferences, portals assist in managing tasks and workflows. Portals also help in collaboration and groupware management, in integrating applications, and in business intelligence. Finally, portals provide infrastructural support (Laudon and Traver 118).
Chaffey, Dave. E-Business and E-Commerce Management. 3rd ed. New Jersey: Pearson Education, 2008. Print.
Laudon, Kenneth C., and Carol, Guercio Traver. E-Commerce: Business, Technology, Society. Rev. ed. Boston: Addison-Wesley, 2002. Print.
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Reynolds, Janice. The Complete E-Commerce Book: Design, Build & Maintain a Successful Web-Based Business. NW: CRC Press, 2004. Print.
Schneider, Gary. Electronic Commerce. 10th ed. Stamford: Cengage Learning, 2012. Print.
Turban, Efraim., and David King. Electronic Commerce 2012: Managerial and Social Networks Perspectives. 7th ed. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2011. Print.