Implementing E-Commerce on Your Linux System - page 2
Previews of TallyMan, Yams, and OpenMerchant
First, a short explanation of e-commerce software for those unfamiliar with the field. Basically, e-commerce software is designed to manage all parts of a business transaction via the Internet. This transaction can be on a business-to-business or business-to-consumer level. (TallyMan is optimized for business-to-consumer transactions; OpenMerchant can be used in both situations.) In either case, the process is the same: a customer browses through a company's product listings--stored in an online catalog--and then chooses which items to purchase, placing the items in a shopping cart. When the customer is finished shopping, they check out of the online store, arranging for secure payment via a real-time credit-card authorization.
This may seem like a relatively simple exercise in programming, but it's not. Product data--including prices, product shots, and descriptions--must be stored in a back-end database and rendered each time a customer browses. The credit-card authorization usually takes place on remote secure servers, so there needs to be a direct connection between a store and these servers. Finally, performance must be as fast as possible, or else a customer will simply walk away from the transaction before it's consummated.
Be warned that packages like these are only the first step when entering e-commerce. For instance, if you want to accept credit cards online, you'll need to contract with a payment service (such as Signio or CyberCash) as well as open a merchant account at a bank for processing credit-card orders. (You can use an ordinary banking account for this purpose.) Similarly, you'll need to make sure that you're set up to process tax collection should anyone from your state place an order.
Next are summaries of the features found in TallyMan, Yams, and OpenMerchant. We hesitate to call these reviews, as this is prerelease software that could conceivably change dramatically between now and the release of version 1.0. However, both products are sufficiently developed that you can get a pretty good idea of where they're going.