What Does Microsoft’s .NET Mean for E-Commerce?

Microsoft .NET has been widely heralded as the nextbig thing in the Internet world, but how this new technology will affect e-commerce is decidedlyless clear.

According to some analysts, the answer is simple: notmuch. “Overall, it is going to be a nonevent fore-commerce,” Giga InformationGroup analyst Andrew Bartels told the E-CommerceTimes. “.NET is more at the infrastructure levelthan at the commerce level.”

Behind the Scenes

But while.NET may not have an immediate and directeffect on e-commerce, it will make an impactbehind the scenes.

According to IDCanalyst Albert Pang, .NET will serve as a glue that linksa company’s IT infrastructure with its customers,enabling Internet companies to build e-tail sites more rapidly.

“That, in turn, is likely to influence and producegreater numbers of commercial transactions on theInternet,” Pang told the E-Commerce Times.

More Convenient

Down the road, .NET adoption will increase the convenience of Web transactions as Internet companies use this technology to share information.

“There will be greater … convenience forshoppers if some of these back-end systems are linkedso that data can be extracted and exchanged moreeasily,” Pang said. “For example, you probably don’t need to typein your credit card number every time when you visitsites that are built using .NET architecture andcomponents.”

In the Field

Citigroup (NYSE: C), for example, said it plans to usePassport, Microsoft’s .NET-enabled authentication andsingle sign-in product, as well as .NET Alerts, aninstant messaging service that provides Web userswith customized information.

Consumers visiting Citigroup sites will beidentified automatically after signing in to Passport,and they will be able to navigate across multiplePassport-enabled sites without logging in again, according to the company.

With .NET Alerts, Citigroup customers will be able to sign up toreceive key information like payment due date or when acredit limit has been reached. Alerts can send information via e-mail, cell phone or mobile device, based on the user’s preference.

Travel site Expedia also has announced it will support .NET Alerts, allowing travelers to receive instant flight updates.

Cost Savings

In addition to making the shopping process easier forWeb buyers, .NET will likely make Web site developmentmore affordable for e-commerce companies.

“It might make the task of building an e-commerce site cheaper,but in most cases that has been the smallest part ofe-commerce investment anyway,” Bartels said.

Technology costs tend to be far smaller than the costs ofcustomer acquisition and fulfillment, accounting forjust 20 to 30 percent of the total investment required.

Bartels estimated that Microsoft .NET might save companies 10 percent of those technology-related costs.

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