In-Depth

CyberShop

Today, computer savvy shoppers can nearly accomplish all of their shopping needs without leaving the confines of their home. One stop could be www.cybershop.com from CyberShop, an online competitor to the traditional high-end department stores. According to Tomas Montgomery, vice president of operations for New York City-based CyberShop, when the site first went online just over two years ago, it was based around a custom built system that was difficult to modify. "The problem with the previous system is that it took too long to develop from idea to implementation," Montgomery said. "We began to look to provide flexibility to handle additional needs."

Montgomery and company began investigating new systems to give CyberShop more flexibility and the ability to respond quickly to perceived user needs. Pleasanton, Calif.-based Internet Factory’s Merchant Builder came out of a handful hopefuls: "Internet Factory had the greatest amount of flexibility," Montgomery said.

It took a staff of five developers from an external consultancy to completely rebuild the store front using Merchant Builder with the "new" CyberShop going online in September 1997. "We didn’t recreate, we rebuilt the system and added a lot of functionality not found in the old store,” Montgomery said. Part of the new functionality includes a "shopping bag" that can be held overnight or viewed by other family members prior to purchase. "I can pick out some gifts for my mother, then have my wife go online and see what I picked out before I buy," Montgomery said. Amazingly, the entire system is run on Pentium Pro 200 server with a Microsoft Access database. "We’re planning to move to SQL soon," Montgomery said.

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