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Case Study – Random Walk Shoes

Amy Lawrence, the owner of Random Walk Shoes, has asked you to help her as she launches her company’s first Web site. In college, Amy was a business major with an artistic bent. She helped to pay her way through college by decorating sneakers with her hand-painted designs. Her business grew through word of mouth and through her participation in crafts fairs. By the time she earned her degree, Amy was running a successful business from her dorm room.

Amy expanded her sales efforts to include crafts fairs in nearby towns. She hired two college students to work for her, and she convinced several area gift shops to stock samples of her merchandise. The gift shops were not an ideal retail outlet for her products, however, since most people who want to buy decorated sneakers want to choose specific designs or have special designs created just for them. Customers also want to choose the specific shoes on which the design is placed. One of Amy’s student workers suggested that she consider selling her products on the Web.

Realizing that the Web would give Random Walk Shoes a chance to reach a much wider audience and would allow customers to choose design-shoe combinations, Amy began gathering information and developing estimates about her planned Web activity. Using her digital camera, she took several hundred pictures of shoes, designs, and shoe-design combinations. She then hired a local Web designer to create sample pages for the website, including catalog pages that contained the digital images. She also created a number of videos showing the customized sneakers in action.

When the Web designer had completed a prototype of the site, Amy worked with the designer to calculate page sizes (including the images). The average page size was 1 MB. She also calculated the average size of a video to be 800 MB. Amy and her employees then navigated the prototype site several hundred times to develop an estimate of how many pages an average visitor would download and how many videos they would watch. They concluded that an average site visitor would visit 23 pages and watch one video during each visit. Amy worked with the Web designer to develop estimates of the activity they expect to occur on the website during its first two years of operation. These estimates include:

·         The database of Web page information (including the images and the videos) will require about 1 TB of disk space.

·         The database management software itself will require about 500 MB of disk space.

·         The shopping cart software will require about 300 MB of disk space.

·         About 8000 customers will visit the site during the first month, and site traffic will grow about 20 percent each month during the first two years.

·         The site should accommodate a peak traffic load of 1000 visitors at one time.

Amy wants to include features on the site that are similar to those found on competing sites (a list of links to businesses that sell customized shoes on the Web is included in the Web Links for your reference). Amy wants the site to provide a good experience for visitors. If the site is successful, it will generate sufficient revenue to allow an upgrade after two years. However, she does not want to spend more money than is necessary to get the site up and keep it running for the next two years.

Your assignment this week is to review the content in this week’s reading and create a report that will help Amy to determine the features and capacities (RAM, disk storage, processor speed) that should include in the Web server computer she will need for her site. Be sure to include some dialog regarding electronic commerce software and any other software recommendations that you deem beneficial to Amy’s operation. Additionally, consider the advantages and disadvantages of using open source Web server software (such as Apache Web Server) on the new computer, and summarize your purchase recommendations. You may also include information from vendors’ sites (such as Dell, HP Servers, or Oracle Enterprise Servers) as an appendix to your report.

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