Week 10 (Personalisation)

Question Fifteen

This week our assignment is about web personalisation. We have to take a stand on personalisation and decide whether we are for it or against it. We have to explain our decision and provide evidence to back up our opinion. We have to use our own arguments and thinking and illustrate our points with images and examples and links to websites showing good and/or bad practice.

Web personalisation is a strategy and marketing tool. It is the process of tailoring the presentation of a website’s content to match a specific user’s instructions or preferences. This custom tailoring is accomplished either by the user choosing from a menu of available alternatives or by tracking his or her behaviour (such as which pages the user has accessed and how often) on the website.

Web personalisation models include collaborative filtering. This shows relevant material to customers by combining their own personal preferences with the preferences of like minded others. Collaborative filtering works well for books, music and DVD’s etc, this would therefore work well for my e-commerce business Play.com.

Both of the websites Play.com and Amazon.co.uk use personalisation. They recommend products to shoppers on their sites based on their previous purchases. Amazon makes extensive use of collaborative filtering in its personalisation technology. This can be seen in the screenshot below. When a customer purchases a product from Amazon they will recommend products that other people with similar interests bought.

The next screenshot shows another example of web personalisation. It shows that when you visit Amazon’s website it says “Sign in to get personalised recommendations”, so as soon as the customer has signed in they will be provided with recommended products.

After researching about web personalisation I personally believe that it is a good idea and a very useful tool. There are several advantages with a company using personalisation on their website.

  • It tailors the website to the customer’s interests, this can therefore help increase sales for the company.
  • Recommends products that customer may be interested in but not know about. For example if a customer bought a CD by a certain artist, the website could recommend another CD by the same artist or a different but similar artist.
  • Saves time for the customer. It eliminates repetitive tasks and remembers transaction details. This will help encourage customers to return to the website for more purchases by making the transaction as easy for them as possible.

Week 9 (Customer Relationship Management)

Question Fourteen

For our coursework this week we have to construct a list of key phrases that describe our chosen e-commerce business. The final shortlist should be no more than 12 key phrases. We also have to show screenshots of the tools we used to find the keywords relating to our website.

The first linked I used was Google’s search-based keyword tool to provide keyword ideas for my e-commerce business (Play.com). The screenshot below shows that I entered Play.com into the website search box and clicked find keywords.

The following screen appeared which shows a list of keywords (generated by Google) that are related to Play.com. A list of 100 keywords appeared so I looked through them all and narrowed them down to the words I thought were best related to Play.com and that could be used as part of Play.com’s  Adwords campaign.

The next website I looked at was Google Insights. With this website you can compare search volume patterns across specific regions, categories, time frames and properties. I typed Play.com into the search bar and clicked on search.

The following screen appeared which shows 2 images for Play.com. The first is a chart which shows that from 2004 to 2009 interest has increased and is forecasted to keep increasing in 2010.

The 2nd image shows the usage of Play.com in different countries. It’s clear to see that the top country is the UK, followed by Ireland and Norway.

The next tool I used was Google Adwords. This is a keyword tool that generates new keyword ideas. I typed Play.com into the search bar and I selected the ‘website content’ button and then clicked on ‘get keyword ideas’.

The following screen appeared which showed a large list of 200 related keywords to my website. I looked through these results and tried to pick out the words I thought best matched Play.com.

I also changed the ‘Match Type’ column to see what different results appeared using the three different options ‘ Broad’, ‘Phrase’ and ‘Exact’.

Another website that I used to find keywords relating to Play.com was www.Alexa.com. I typed Play.com into the search bar in the website and it brought back a list of results driving traffic to Play.com from search engines. Examples of these keywords can be seen in the screenshot below.

Chosen list of 12 keywords / phrases relating to Play.com

  1. PLAY This word is nearly the actual website itself and it’s also one of the top/best keywords to appear on Alexa.com.
  2. DVD’S The words DVD’s and DVD are up at the top of all the keywords on both Google Adwords and Alexa. These words are highly relevant to the website as well.
  3. BlU RAY – This phrase came very top of Google Adwords and there were also many other keywords appeared relating to blu ray.
  4. CD’S – CD’S came up at the top of Alexa and are also probably one of the main reason people visit Play.com.
  5. XBOX GAMES – This phrase was high in the list of keywords on Alexa and Google’s search based keyword tool.
  6. NINTENDO DS GAMES – This phrase came up near the top in Alexa. It came 8th in the whole list of keywords.
  7. CHEAP DVD’S – This showed up in both Google Adwords and Alexa and is quite a popular keyword relating to Play.com.
  8. DVD SHOP – This phrase is similar to both DVD’S and CHEAP DVD’S and it also was highly ranked by Alexa.
  9. WII GAMES – This phrase is highly relevant to Play.com and appeared near the top  in Alexa’s top keywords.
  10. ELECTRONICS – All the top keywords that appeared in Google Search Based Keywords were electronics and would be a very popular keyword in Play.com.
  11. COMPUTERS – This keyword was also up near the top in the list of keywords that Google Search Based Keywords displayed.
  12. PS3 – This is the final keyword I have chosen for Play.com. It was ranked highly in Alexa and it is very relevant to the website as well.

Week 8 (E-Marketing)

Question Thirteen

For your selected e-commerce site, assess the ease (or not) with which you can find the site using a search engine. Type some of the company’s branded products or key themes into a search engine. Discuss what is returned. Pay particular attention to ‘paid for’ results. Check where competitors appear. Interpret the results. Provide recommendations.

I decided to use the search engine http://www.google.com to see how easy it was to access my chosen website (Play.com). I typed Play.com into Google and it was the first website that was displayed of 217,000,000 results. The first two websites that appeared were direct links to Play.com. From doing this I have found that my website is very easy to access if you know the address of the website.


Play.com using google


After searching Google to see how easy it was to access Play.com, I entered some products that they sell to see where they would come in the list of displayed search results.

I searched Google for the DVD ‘I am Legend’. The results that where displayed brought Amazon up first on the list, then Play.com came after. This could be because Amazon would be a more well known company and is also one of Play.com’s biggest competitors.


search google for dvd


Another search that I did was to search for a Calvin Harris CD. This search brought back the same results as for the DVD. Amazon was top of the list, with Play.com coming second.

In both the screenshots above it can be seen that Play.com have appeared in both searches at the very top in the ‘Sponsored Link’ section. Some companies use a method of ‘pay per click’ and this means that the company (Play.com) have to pay the search engine (Google) for their advertisement, but only when the link is clicked on. This method provides purchase opportunities wherever people may be surfing. This will also help draw attention to their website as its highlighted and at the very top of the page, so therefore will help them to increase their number of customers, sales and profits.

Overall I think that Play.com is very easy to access especially if the user knows the URL. If they didn’t know the URL it’s still easily accessed as every time I searched for a product they sell, its the second result displayed.

Week 7 (E-Procurement)

Question Twelve

Find out what is meant by the term “Cloud Computing”. Describe what is meant by this term and explain the impact that cloud computing might have in e-commerce. Describe potential benefits and problems.


Cloud computing is computer technology that uses the internet and central remote servers to maintain data and applications. It allows consumers and businesses to use applications without installation and access their personal files at any computer with internet access. This allows for much more efficient computing by centralising storage, memory, processing and bandwidth.

Cloud computing is broken down into 3 segments: Applications, Platforms and Infrastructure. Each of these three segments serve a different purpose and offer different products for businesses and individuals.

How Cloud Computing works


Impact cloud computing might have on e-commerce

Cloud computing has become more popular in recent times, more people are becoming aware of it and more businesses are heavily considering the transition. Running an e-commerce business using ‘cloud computing’ helps make it easier to do business with customers by simplifying interactions and driving down transaction costs. Also building your application in the cloud is five times faster, a company can move their branding initiative into a selling platform and start taking orders in a few short weeks.

Benefits of cloud computing

Several businesses are already taking advantage of the benefits that cloud computing has to offer. Some of these benefits are:

  • Device and location independence – This enables users to access systems using a web browser regardless of their location or what device they are using, for example a PC or a mobile phone.
  • Easy implementation – Without the need to purchase hardware, software licences or implementation services, a company can get its cloud computing arrangement up in running in a record time.
  • Reduced expenses – The sharing of costs and resources amongst so many users will allow for efficiencies and cost savings. Businesses can also save money by paying other companies for storage, such as Amazon, and they only need to pay for the storage that they use.
  • Security and reliability is improved due to the centralisation of data.

Problems with cloud computing

  • Loss of control over sensitive data when handing over data and information.
  • Dependant on internet connection – Internet connection isn’t completely stable and reliable.
  • Dependant on third party to ensure the security and confidentiality of data and information.
  • If your cloud host disappears, where does your information go.

Week 6 (Supply Chain Management)

Week 6 Coursework

Question Eleven – Using your chosen e-commerce company, analyse their strategy for management of the upstream and downstream supply chain.

Play.com’s supply chain management is the coordination of all supply activities from their suppliers and partners to their customers. There are two different strategies involved in supply chain management. The first one is upstream supply chain, this is the transactions between the company (Play.com) and their suppliers and intermediaries, also known as buy-side e-commerce. The second strategy is downstream supply chain, this is the transactions between the company and their customers and intermediaries, also known as sell-side e-commerce.

Push vs Pull Supply Models

A push – pull system in a business describes the movement of a product or information between two subjects. The customers usually “pull” the goods of information they demand for their needs, while the suppliers “pushes” them towards the customers.

I feel that Play.com is a “push” system because they “push” the information to their customers about their products. Play.com sends out emails and advertisements to their customers to tell them about their current and new products and services.


Vertical integration vs disintegration vs virtual integration

Vertical integration is where one business entity controls all stages of production and distribution of goods and services. Disintegration is where the company has many different networks of suppliers. Virtual integration is where the majority of supply chain activities are undertaken and controlled outside the organisation by third parties.

I think that Play.com would be virtual integration because shipments of products that they need can be easily arranged through the internet or a networked computer system. Play.com are also able to fully serve their customers in ordering, services and any other needs.

Value Networks

A value network is a complex set of social and technical resources. This value takes the form of knowledge and other intangibles and/or financial value. They account for the overall worth of products and services. Companies have both internal and external value networks. External facing networks include customers or recipients, stakeholders and suppliers. Internal value networks focus on key activities, processes and relationships that cut across internal boundaries.

Play.com has grown rapidly since they where first set up in 1998. They have grown so quickly due to the increase in number of customers, products and services such as PlayTrade. Play.com has made full use of their resources which has also helped them to grow quickly.

Efficiencies in supply chain

Play.com purchase their products from their suppliers before the customer has purchased the product. This helps improve the speed that the customers receive their products as they can be sent out straight away when they have been paid for. This also encourages the customer to buy from them if they can see that the product they are looking for is in stock and available to be delivered straight away.

Week 5 (E-Business Strategy)

Week 5 Coursework

QUESTION TEN – Consider the strategic impact on your website in each of the ‘Five Force’ areas.

The Threat of Substitute Products

The main company that would be of treat to Play.com would be Amazon as they sell similar products (such as DVD’s and CD’s) over the internet. If a customer was visiting Play.com and was looking for a particular product for example a DVD and they didn’t have it or it was out of stock then the customer would go to one of their competitors such as Amazon. A big advantage that Play.com has over Amazon would be that they don’t charge customers for delivery when buying products from their site. This helps them to fight off the competition, keep as  many customers as possible and avoid the threat of customers buying substitute products.

The Threat of the entry of new competitors

Play.com is a well recognised online retailer and like most companies they are in threat of the entry of new competitors. New companies can enter and leave the market at any time so Play.com needs to be aware of these new companies. They need to keep as many customers as possible to keep their sales and profits high. They also need to be aware of what products the new competitors are bringing out as they could be creating new and unique items to try and attract / encourage customers to buy from them instead of from Play.com.

The Intensity of competitive rivalry

The intensity of competitive rivalry would be high when an new item comes out for example and new DVD or CD. Play.com has a Pre-Order chart and this means that before some products  go on sale the customer can reserve a copy so as they are sure to get it when it goes on sale. This is a big advantage to Play.com and helps to keep their customers and therefore keep sales and profits from falling. Play.com also send out advertising emails to all their customers so this will also help to fight off the competition if they let the customers know about new products before their competitors do.

The bargaining power of customers

The main age range of customers using Play.com is young people. This age group aren’t going to be willing to pay anymore than what is necessary, so Play.com will need to keep their prices down to avoid the risk of losing customers. There are also other methods for customers to buy similar products for example downloading and buying from shops, so Play.com needs to make sure their prices are similar or lower than these other places, or their customers will be encouraged to leave and purchase their products elsewhere.

The bargaining power of suppliers

Supplier bargaining power is more likely to be higher when the market is dominated by a few large suppliers. Play.com must have a good relationship with their suppliers or the supplier could refuse to work with the company or for example they could charge excessively high prices for unique resources. This would therefore lead to Play.com having to increase their prices.

Porters 5 forces

Week 4 (E-Environment)

Week 4 Coursework

QUESTION SEVEN – Terms and Conditions for purchasing from Play.com

To find Play.com’s terms and conditions I went to the help section. Here I found the terms and conditions divided up into six different sections.

All the terms and conditions were clear, reasonable and easy to understand. They state that your contract for purchases made through the Site is with Play.com, and you undertake that any and all goods ordered by you are for your own private and domestic use only.

While Play.com tries to ensure that all prices on their website are accurate, they say errors may occur. If they discover an error in the price of goods the customer has ordered they will inform them as soon as possible and give them the option of reconfirming their order at the correct price or cancelling it. If they are unable to contact the customer they will treat the order as cancelled. If they cancel and the customer has already paid for their goods, they will receive a full refund.

If a customer buys an item from Play.com and wants to return it they have 28 days to send it back as long as they have their receipt as proof of purchase and the item must be packaged securely.

After looking at the terms and conditions of Play.com I had a look at Amazon’s as this would be their main competitor. From doing this I found out that both were very similar, although I thought Amazon’s were better laid out and easier to find the exact section I looking for.

QUESTION EIGHT – The Registration Process for Play.com

When registering to Play.com, firstly you will be asked for your email address and to create a password. The password must be between 6 and 20 characters for security reasons.

Step 2

After you have entered your email address and password you will be asked to enter you billing/ delivery address.

Step 3

The next step is to enter your credit card details. The CV2 number is used by Play.com to perform a security check when the customer is making a purchase from the site.

Step 3 part 2

Encryption is the process of transforming information using an algorithm to make it unreadable to anyone except those possessing special knowledge, usually referred to as a key. The result of the process is encrypted information.

The data on Play.com is encrypted. I was able to find this out by looking up the security information on the website.


QUESTION NINE – Does Play.com use cookies? What are cookies and how are they used?

Play.com does use cookies. I was able to find this out by going to Play.com, then entering the following into the location box in my web browser, javascript:alert(“cookie:”+document.cookie). When I clicked enter the following screenshot appeared showing that Play.com uses cookies.

PLAY.COM COOKIESCookies are small files which are stored on a users computer. They are designed to hold data specific to a particular client and website and they can be accessed either by the web server or the client computer.

When an internet domain uses cookies, they usually write information which may be used later by them to assist in making your visit to the site better. For example in Play.com when you sign into your account they can save your email address and password to save you keying it in every time you visit the website.

While we try and ensure that all prices on our website are accurate, errors may occur. If we discover an error in the price of goods you have ordered we will inform you as soon as possible and give you the option of reconfirming your order at the correct price or cancelling it. If we are unable to contact you we will treat the order as cancelled. If you cancel and you have already paid for the goods, you will receive a full refund.

Week 3 (E-Business Infrastructure)

Week 3 Coursework


After researching the internet, I found relevant information relating to my website (Play.com). I used the websites www.attentionmeter.com ,  www.alexa.com and www.compete.com to find information, data and graphs.

This first graph shows the number of visitors to Play.com.


The above graph shows the number of visitors to Play.com over a period of one year (from August 2008 to August 2009). From looking at this graph it is clear to see that the number of visitors rapidly increased from August 2008 to December 2008 from around 125,000 to 200,000 visitors. The number of visitors probably increased so rapidly during this time of year as this is the run up to Christmas and Play.com’s products would be very popular as Christmas gifts for example DVD’s, CD’s and electrical goods such as iPods and mobile phones. After December 2008 the number of visitors starts to decline again and between February 2009 and August 2009 there is little change.

The 2nd graph shows the number of visitors to Play.com compared to the number of visitors to hmv.co.uk over a period of one year.


After looking at this graph I can see that Play.com receives a lot more visitors than HMV. For example in August 2008 Play.com had 122,292 visitors whereas HMV only had 7,770 visitors.

The chart below shows demographics for Play.com.

untitled2After looking at these results I can see that Play.com is mainly used by:

  • Males (with 53%)
  • Teenagers and young adults (Age group from 13-34)
  • Families with children
  • People with less income


When purchasing items from Play.com the customer has to go through a number of steps.

1. Firstly the customer must have internet access on their computer, then they need to open their web browser and go to www.play.com. This will open the Play.com website.

2. Now that the customer is on the website they will be able to view all the different products that the company sells. When they have found the item they are wanting to buy they simply click on the ‘Buy’ button.


3. The item is now added to the shopping basket. The customer can add as many items as they want and when they have chosen all their items they click checkout where they will be asked to sign into their account. If it’s a new customer they must register their details before they can make a purchase on the site.


4. Once the customer has signed in or registered they now enter their payment method and delivery address. The next page that appears will be the items in their shopping basket and the total price. The customer will have to confirm all these details are correct. Once correct and the order is complete the customer will receive a confirmation email including details of length of delivery.


A method that Play.com could use to help increase sales and profits would be to advertise on digital television for example they could have adverts showing new products and when the user presses the red button they can find out more information on the specific product. They could also advertise on a shopping channel or set up one of their own for customers to buy their products. This method would be good for people who do not have access to the internet.

Another method Play.com could use would be mobile device access. This would enable people to access their site and buy products using their mobile phone.

Week 2 (E-Commerce Fundamentals)

Week 2 Coursework

For our coursework this week we have to answer the given questions relating to our chosen website.

The website I have chosen is http://www.play.com/. This website is an award winning online retailer of DVD’s, CDs, books, gadgets, video games, mp3 downloads, and other electronic products, as well as clothes and accessories. Play.com was founded in 1998 and was one of the first online retailers targeting the UK. It is also the second biggest online retailer in the UK market.

This website is very user friendly as it is easy for the customers to navigate and browse through all the different areas of the site. It also shows images of every product it sells and it has video clips for customers looking to buy DVD’s and sample tracks for the music they sell. This therefore enables the customers to listen/see what they are purchasing.

The following screenshot shows an image of Play.com.


Play.com has seen massive growth over the past decade and now has approximately 500 staff and 8,000,000 items for sale. Most recently, the company added a feature called PlayTrade and this allows third party sellers to operate on the site. As well as offering their customers a wide range of great value products, they also offer a huge range of career opportunities from Web-Designers to Financial Analysts, and Product Buying roles.

At the beginning of January 2009 Play.com’s profits soared with their DVD sales and these profits are continuing to increase due to the great number of products and the free delivery of these products to their customers.

After reasearching the business behind the site I found out that:

  • Currently products can only be purchased online by going to the Play.com website, they do not have any shops.
  • It is a private company that was founded in 1998 in Jersey, Channel Islands.
  • The key people are Richard Goulding who is the Chairman and Simon Perrée who is the Managing Director.

Week 1 (Internet Usage in the UK)

COM425 – Week 1  Coursework

Statistics on the internet usage in the UK

After researching statistics on the internet usage in the United Kingdom using Google, I  found out that it is estimated that 1.3 million UK residents have come online since 2007, and a similar number will access the Web for the first time between 2008 and 2009.

I researched the following websites http://www.internetworldstats.com/eu/uk.htm and http://www.statistics.gov.uk/CCI/nugget.asp?ID=8 and I found some internet usage and population statistics.

  • In 2007, 63.8% of the population were using the internet, this has now gone up to 79.8% for 2009.
  • 18.3 million households in the UK had Internet access in 2009. This is an increase of just under 2 million households over the last year and 4 million households since 2006.
  • London had the highest level of internet access with 80 per cent. The region with the lowest access level was Scotland, with 62 per cent.
  • Sixty-three per cent of all UK households had a broadband connection in 2009, up from 56 per cent in 2008. Of those households with Internet access, 90 per cent had a broadband connection in 2009, an increase from 69 per cent in 2006.
  • Sixty four per cent of all adults who were recent Internet users  had ever purchased goods or services over the Internet in 2009. Of these, 83 per cent (26 million) had purchased within the last three months.

Internet Usage

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