Title: Accessibility and scalability in collaborative e-commerce environments

Authors: Michel Khoury, Xiaojun Shen, Shervin Shirmohammadi

Addresses: Distributed Collaborative Virtual Environment Research Laboratory (DISCOVER), School of Information Technology and Engineering (SITE), University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, K1N 6N5, Canada. ' Distributed Collaborative Virtual Environment Research Laboratory (DISCOVER), School of Information Technology and Engineering (SITE), University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, K1N 6N5, Canada. ' Distributed Collaborative Virtual Environment Research Laboratory (DISCOVER), School of Information Technology and Engineering (SITE), University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, K1N 6N5, Canada.

Abstract: Much advancement has recently occurred in e-commerce systems| interfaces. Product specifications listings combined with pictures are no longer considered the benchmark for e-commerce interfaces. Albeit commercial websites have not ventured in these developments, academic research has tried, through this progression, to mimic the real-life shopping experience. Shopping in real-life is a social experience with other components attached to it: customers consult with experts and shop in groups benefiting from others| opinions. These aspects, when lacking, can lead to reduction in sales. In this article, we build on a collaborative e-commerce system. The system adopts concepts from virtual environments, allowing customers to interact with 3D models of the items of interest in the virtual shop as well as share those items with other customers or ask for expert opinions, in real-time. Our system addresses accessibility, by using Macromedia Shockwave, a widely deployed player, and therefore avoids the need of unusual plug-ins, such as Virtual Reality Modelling Language viewers. In addition, the system addresses scalability, by using a peer-to-peer communications architecture to support a number of geographically dispersed customers on the internet simultaneously.

Keywords: accessibility; ALM; application-layer multicasting; collaborative commerce; e-commerce interfaces; P2P; peer to peer communication; scalability; electronic commerce; 3D modelling; virtual shopping; online shopping.

DOI: 10.1504/IJPLM.2008.021441

International Journal of Product Lifecycle Management, 2008 Vol.3 No.2/3, pp.178 - 190

Available online: 27 Nov 2008 *

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