September 30, 2003, 12:00 AM

Making Demands

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An on-demand network can support all channels, enabling retailers to drive online users to the store and direct store shoppers to the web. In some areas of retail, consumers do significant research online before buying, but still want to kick the tires before making the purchase. By providing better product information online, coupled with promotions, links to store inventory, and the ability to direct the user to a nearby store that has the item in stock, retailers can make a big difference in converting an Internet shopper from a browser to a buyer.

Retailers might also consider providing web access in-store to allow shoppers to find out more information on products. This approach requires that store kiosks operate with the same stellar performance as the retailer’s optimized e-commerce site. This can be achieved with a simple PC, a web browser and an Internet connection, which can utilize the same on-demand network as the retail site. This approach can also be used to upsell the user by providing extensive data about the benefits of a more expensive product.

Retailers can make the most of the above initiatives by use of an on-demand distributed content and application delivery infrastructure-one in which content and applications are distributed and delivered via an in-place system of globally dispersed computers, and processed at the most efficient places within the network-close to end users to provide subsecond interactive response times. An on-demand distributed infrastructure enables businesses to maximize e-business efforts quickly, without adding equipment, cost, or complexity to existing IT infrastructure-eliminating deployment bottlenecks and the risks of capacity planning while providing a better online shopping experience that results in higher sales. l

Bill Weihl is chief technology officer for Akamai Technologies Inc., an on demand distributed computing platform for e-business. He can be reached at

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