In this project, you are asked
to do web-based research (and perhaps some library research) and
to write an informative report on the question of electronic commerce,
or "e-commerce." Is it a good idea for businesses to invest
in electronic commerce—that is, to use the Internet/World
Wide Web as a medium for promoting their corporate image or for
selling products and services?
Before you shout "Yes, it's the web stupid!" think about
the question in a serious way. First, this is a broad question,
and even if you think the answer should be yes (or no), your first
step is to focus thoughtfully on the issues, such as:
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of e-commerce?
- Why would somebody want to have a business presence on the web?
- What are the problems involved?
- What about costs—and are the costs of a web site worth
it in terms of return on investment?
Your research will result in a short (minimum 3-5 pages) informative
report on the important issues surrounding e-commerce. These types
of informative reports are often called "white papers."
Your white paper is not intended for one particular company or organization,
but is more broadly focused to inform on the issue of e-commerce.
The purpose of this project is (1) to help you gain some expertise
on a particular topic of importance to business (web commerce);
(2) to produce a report of interest and value to businesses that
might be considering engaging in web commerce; and (3) to prepare
you for the corporate web project.
Who is the audience for this project? While this report is intended
for a broad audience, you still need to consider the type of person
interested in this topic. For the purposes of this project, you
should imagine you are part of a consulting firm that prepares reports,
or white papers, for various businesses. Since these reports are
for already-established businesses, you will need to consider e-commerce
from that perspective.
This report cannot be about everything concerning e-commerce--that
would be impossible to do in 3-5 pages. Therefore, I recommend
that you direct your report toward one type of business or organization.
This will allow you to narrow the focus of your research on aspects
of ecommerce relevant to the type of business of organization.
Option: Rather than do this assignment as
an individual project, you might consider working in pairs on an
aspect of e-commerce relevant to your major. If you do this project
collaboratively, make sure you review the guidelines for collaboration
at http://www-honors.ucdavis.edu/vohs/index.html. You
will also need to complete the required Collaborative
for Approaching this Project
- Take a linear approach: What’s the process of getting
your online presence up and running, beginning to end? (This might
have a tendency to emphasize the how-to of the technology, rather
than the how-to of the business concerns; topics will have to
selected carefully to keep it from turning into software documentation.)
- Take a business/marketing approach: Focus hard on business issues
attracting readers, selling items, online ordering, security.
- Take a single-issue approach: Focus on how non-profits can take
advantage of the web, or on a single issue related to e-commerce
such as law, international trade, etc.
- Take an ethics approach: Focus on the complex web of ethical
and legal issues related to e-commerce such as privacy, security,
fraud, crime, intellectual property, etc.
Your first task will be to do research and educate
yourself on some of the general issues regarding e-commerce. As
you read, begin to focus on a particular issue or question of interest
to you that you also think is significant for businesses to consider.
You might, for instance, decide to focus on business use of the
web in the floral industry. Do florists tend to use the web? Does
it work well as a vehicle for e-commerce? What are the particular
problems they face selling their products online? Here are some
specific and legitimate questions that businesses might have:
- Are online credit card transactions secure? Do
customers feel safe using credit cards online?
- Is web advertising worth it?
- How much does it cost to sell products via a
World Wide Web site? How does a business go about creating such
- Which products and services sell well online?
- What types of businesses and organizations are
best served by e-commerce?
Resources for E-Commerce Simulation
As you begin to find articles like the ones above,
scan them and decide on a question that strikes your interest and
that seems to you to be a significant question for businesses to
consider. Your goal is to come up with ten articles on a related
topic pertaining to e-commerce—not just any ten articles, but
ten that focus on the same general area. Scan articles for a while.
Then once you have settled on a topic, begin saving or printing
out those articles you plan to use in your report.
Some words of caution about reading and using online
articles: (1) Consider the authority of the source. Is the source
"objective" —or does the source have a self-interested reason to
promote web commerce? (Warning! Some of these sources are collected
by firms that make their money by promoting business use of the
web.) (2) Watch out for companies that charge you to download web
articles (though they prompt you if that's the case). For example,
The Wall Street Journal charges $2.25 per article for downloads.
(3) Some articles continue for several pages (web pages, that is).
Sometimes to get the entire article, you have to print out several
format, and design of the report
Provide basic information about your report: title, author name, and
Are Online Transactions Secure?
A Report on E-Commerce and Credit Card Use
March 19, 1999
paragraph. Indicate what your report is
about. What question or topic does this report cover? What is the
scope of coverage? And what is your overall thesis or main point?
This report examines the question of whether credit
card transactions on the World Wide Web are actually secure. Though
there have been many instances of online credit card frauds, the
incidence of such fraud is actually no more than with regular
plastic transactions. However, there are important steps a company
should take to ensure that its customers' credit card transactions
are handled securely.
subsections. Divide your report into subsections, depending
on the major topics you will cover in the report. If your report
addresses the question of whether a bookstore should move online,
you might divide your report into two possible major sections: Advantages
of Web Book Sales, Disadvantages of Web Book Sales. You might also
have sub-subsections which distinguish between various advantages
1. Frequency of Online Credit Card Fraud
2. Steps Companies Should Take to Prevent Credit
charts. Think about how to have visual
impact in your report. A line graph could be used to show change
over time—for instance, the increasing number of businesses engaged
in web commerce, or the number of incidents of online credit card
fraud. If you borrow a chart or graph already contained in another
source, be sure to identify that source below the chart.
Provide a list of the references you use in
the report, as a separate final page of the report. Be sure to format
your individual entries according to APA format.
Formal E-Mail Proposal -- Due Monday, September 30
Annotated Bibliography -- Due Wednesday, October 9
Draft Workshop -- Friday, October 25
Visuals Workshop -- Monday, October 28
Final Report Due -- Friday, November 1
E-mail Proposal and Annotated
Initally turned into me in a timely, complete manner and resubmitted
with my comments with the final report
Present for and participated in draft workshops
on 10/25 and 10/28