Transforming Bonsai Vets From Mail-Order To E-Commerce Platform

Identification of Software, Hardware, and Networking Needs

This cases study explores the possibility of converting the mail-order business of Bonsai Vets into an e-commerce and mobile based platform. The company has already implemented a Database Management System (DBMS) that was proposed by to Dr. Drew Little by Mendelssohn Technologies which utilized Microsoft Access and Microsoft Excel for building a Decision Support System (DSS). The consultancy firm has come up with yet another proposal for business transformation by adopting e-commerce technology. This transformation is likely to help the company streamline its operations, automate some supply chain processes, enhance the productivity of the people working in the organization, and increasing revenues with the provision of more products and better services faster. 

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This report explores the possibility of this transformation with the identification of software, networking, and hardware needs as well as the collaborative system for the company. Currently, the company is taking orders through the mail which is time-consuming and has administrative costs. Moreover, with manual processes involving sending of catalogs through the mail and receiving orders through calls is a time-consuming process with conversions going slow which presents limitation before business regarding expansion and servicing. With the implementation of e-commerce, the company would be able to expand its reach and improve its services. Mobile-based applications can also be installed for the internal usage by the company employees and external usage by users for order placement and tracking and by partners for order management. 

An e-commerce system is a web 2.0 system that has revolutionized the world of internet. It involves content sharing through open source platforms, generation of content by users, and collaboration inside as well as outside of an organization. To convert the business of Bonsai into a web 2.0 model involving e-commerce and mobile-based business model, the organization would need a system for sharing content and bringing coordination between people working in the organization and the people who are stakeholders to the organization outside. These would include the suppliers, channel partners, and customers(Jasicek, 2004). 

The company would use an open system for the development of the e-commerce platform which would have hardware and software components using public standards of development. The system would allow third-party applications to be implemented on the platform through open source integration. WordPress is an open source content management system that can be used by the company for the development of its platform. WordPress would allow the company to create an e-commerce platform that can be used over the web as well as over the mobile through the use of responsive themes for the company website(Aulkemeier, et al., 2016). 

Benefits of Adopting E-Commerce and Collaborative Environment

Besides the development of the e-commerce interface, the company would need to collaborate within the company as well as with the customers to facilitate business. For this, the company would need to implement a collaborative system that would help people sharing information over the platform and collaborate within the company as well as outside with partners and customers. This collaborative system could consist of some different communication technologies put together to enable a seamless communication across the organization as well as allow communication with external parties like suppliers and customers(Kinder, et al., 2016). 

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With the adoption of e-commerce and collaborative environment, the company would be able to increase the reach of its business by promoting itself to the world through the web. The product and services offered through e-commerce can be mass customized or personalized to cater to requirements of specific customer segments. This would open up new markets for the company, and it would be able to sell to a wider public spread across wider geographical locations. Another major benefit of using this model is the cut down of intermediaries that can sit between the company and its customers as the company would able to list its catalog online and sell to the customer directly(Klaönja-Mili?evi?, 2005).  

This would eliminate the need for middlemen and thus, reduce the margin addition thereby allowing the company to sell products to its customers at a lower price. This disintermediation would eliminate the distributors and retailers from the supply chain of Bonsai and would allow the company to directly reach out to customers through the website. Faster communication is another big advantage of using e-commerce platform which interactivity between customers and the company representative through online chats on the e-commerce portal. Moreover, the engagement and interaction of consumers visiting the e-commerce platform can be measured through the use of analytics and can be analyzed to develop insights to help the company better understand its customers(Oracle, 2017).

Bonsai Vet is a specialty pharmacy service that provides medication for animals in Melbourne, Florida. The company has suppliers medicine and direct customers who are the pet owners. Thus, the company would adopt the B2C e-commerce business model to sell the products from the company to the customers directly. The company would take the orders of the listed products from the customers and once received; the order would be placed at back-end with the available suppliers who would be delivering the products to the customers on their direct addresses. To ensure that the company has visibility into the delivery of goods, it would have communication integration with the suppliers as well as the customers(Tirkkonen, 2017).

Adopting B2C E-Commerce Business Model for Bonsai Vet

Further, the company can have the mobile-based business model to support its business from anywhere and anytime. The company can choose to create m-business model in addition to the web-based model so that consumers can make purchases through their mobiles. For this, the company can have a responsive website that allows people to use website on the mobile easily for making purchases as well as have the mobile application for multiple processes involving multiple users like placing orders for customers, accessing order data and inventory data for the employees, and updating inventory for the suppliers(Akamai, 2016). A single mobile application developed for the company can address multiple needs of multiple people within and outside of the company and streamline its supply chain operations with real-time visibility into the system. With the use of the mobile application, the company would also be able to update the customers about the new promotions or offers as well as communicate about latest happenings of the company(Mathew et al., 2007).

Having a mobile commerce platform would bring a number of benefits to the organization and to consumers such as bringing together the resources of the organization including people and information on a single platform, provision of data in real time, enhanced capability of monitoring information related to business, improvement in workflow through  integration of activities, and opening up of new business opportunities through mobile offering like mobile shopping, digital content sale, and location-based services(Bouverot, 2013).

Advanced mobile technology can be used by the company with the use of RFID tags that would be used for scanning and keeping inventory data of the products. This RFID tag scanning would allow employees of the company to automatically record the details of the product being stocked, transferred or sold eliminating the need for manual entry by operators that have possibilities of error. With this, the accuracy of data capture would be increased, and the data captured in this way can later be used to draw insights into users that can help a company in establishing marketing strategies.

Information systems infrastructure involves planning how an organization would build the IT infrastructure, deploy systems, use the data, share the same and manage the company processes and its assets. A strong IT infrastructure can help the company reduce its operational costs, improve the productivity of its employees, optimize the operations, increase profitability, and enhance growth for the organization. The infrastructure would consist of the networking, hardware and the software. Hardware includes physical devices like computers, mobile devices, and other IT assets like RFID tags. The software consists of the e-commerce portal, monitoring software, and mobile applications.

Mobile-Based Business Model for Bonsai Vet

NETWORK: The network consists of a communication system which would connect the multiple devices including RFID, computers, and mobiles. The network would consist of a client and a server. A client device would take the requests for accessing data from the servers while the server would respond to these requests with the delivery of the information required to the system users. Users can then individually access the data through the end user devices like computer, tablet, laptops, and mobiles(Sitepoint, 2011).

HARDWARE: The hardware system would consist of six key components including a central processing unit, with a control unit and an arithmetic logic unit, primary storage RAM containing temporary storage, secondary storage hard disk, electromagnetic medium, solid state devices, and other medium of storage such as optimum medium and RFID, output devices, and communication devices. The devices would be used for data input, storage, communication, and output. Input devices would include RFID scanners, e-commerce website consumer interface, mobile-based consumer interface, and computer systems used by company employees for data entry. The storage or processing devices would include the hard disk and other storage devices. Communication devices would include the devices that would be used for sending and receiving communication needed to run the system such as mobiles, routers and networking cables(Bonaventure, 2011). Output devices would include computer systems, mobile application, e-commerce application, monitors, printers, plotters, and speakers. The company would need database server and application servers to take care of the commands related to communication and database queries. Application server would help the end users access the data and reports on the company operations through user-friendly interfaces and would have the information contained in caches while database server would have the master data stored that can be retrieved upon raising specific queries through applications(Sherburne, 2014).

SOFTWARE: To set-up the software component of the IT infrastructure of the company, the company would be using two types of software. These would include applications used for controlling the hardware such as the operating system for mobiles and computer systems which would include Windows, Apple OS, iOS, and Android and the application systems including web browsers, databases, word processor, spreadsheets, email services, content management system, and mobile application. The e-commerce website would be integrated with the payment gateway to allow customers to place orders and make payments online. Besides this, the website must also have security solutions, SEO, backup features, and social media integration. This software can be used for providing needed functionalities to the consumers and other internal or associated users of the website. It would allow the website to create a position in search engine listing and allow to communicate with the company directly through chat and social media(V.Srikanth & R.Dhanapal, 2011).

Advanced Mobile Technology for Bonsai Vet

COMMUNICATION NETWORK: The communication network would provide a link between people in the company and its customers as well as suppliers so that information can be exchanged between them to gain strategic benefits. Some components would be needed to create this network in the company, and these include network interface card for storing hardware address, switch, hub or a router for distribution of communication signals through the internet, and modem to allow internet connection for devices through telephone connection(Muthukrishnan & Sullivan, 2012). With these networking systems and devices used, the company can build a local area network or wide area network for its companywide usage. LAN would connect the systems within the city where the company is operating and can be used for internal communication between employees. WAN would be used for connecting to external parties like partners and customers allowing company personnel to get connected to people living in different locations through the internet(Hajibashi & Bhatti, 2017).

NETWORK Topology: For connecting various devices in the network, some different topologies can be used from bus, star, ring, hybrid, and wireless. Bus networks involve a connection of all the devices used by the company to a single backbone which makes the network strong but is high in cost. This topology is not recommended for the company as the company has distributed resources. In the star topology, all devices can be connected to a central hub through which all the data would pass. With a single location to operate from, this topology can be useful. As the company is operating from one store and selling the products online, this topology can be used allowing all the company systems to connect to a single hub that monitored and guides the data transfer across devices(TSALGATIDOU & VEIJALAINEN, 2000).

ARCHITECTURE: The architecture of the whole IT system of the company can be based on a peer to peer network or a client-server network. In peer to peer connection, the computing power of individual components of the network is used to carry out transactions, and in the client-server network, data is searched on a database that sits at the backend. The front end is handled by communication devices that are handled by the consumers or customers for placing requests for data while at the backend bulk processing of data is performed. This is the more appropriate model for the current company has it would have a centralized data storing all the information about orders, partners, inventory, and consumers which would be accessed through the servers based on the requests posted by individual users operating client devices that can be many(Sell, 2014).

Information Systems Infrastructure for Bonsai Vet

NETWORK Components: For establishing communication networks, the company would need to use the transmission media and data transfer protocols. Transmission media can include cables, Radio waves, and optical fiber. Protocols to be used would include the ethernet, File Transfer Protocol, TCP/IP, and Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP). The protocols should be unanimously used with all the software and hardware to allow for interoperability. The company would have a Domain Name brought for the website which would convert the internet protocol addresses into the domain for the company web pages allowing users to access the web pages through the domain name. The domain name would use the category codes for the country it is operating in which is “.us” to get an upper edge on indexing with location advantage. Alternatives to use as a category for domain are .com, .biz, and .org. For the transfer of data, different media would be needed which could be wired or wireless. The wireless media would be used for the external communications between the company representatives and the partners or clients while wired media would be used for internal communication and connections. Wireless media that would be used would include Wi-Fi and radio frequencies through the use of RFID(IBM, 2013).

SECURITY: The network allows an exchange of a large amount of data over the communication networks which can put the system to the security risks like data breaches, hacking, theft and more. To protect the company from such threats, the traffic generated over the web need to be encrypted which can be done using a secure socket layer and secure hypertext transfer protocol which combines SSL and HTTP. The company could be using this combination for enabling secure identification of any user of the system accessing the server through the internet(Englander, 2012). It is important that the data that is being exchanged over the mobile or web-based application is prevented from getting into the hands of unauthorized users who can otherwise use the sensitive data to harm a company or its consumers through misuse. Besides having SSL certification, the website can also be strengthened through the installation of plugins that are created for providing specific security functions such as data verification, authentication, monitoring, scanning, and more(Blossom et al., 2007).

DEVICES: The mobile devices used by the employees, partners, and customers with the application installed for the company data processing would be a part of the system. Basic internet connectivity from 2G to advanced connectivity through 3G or 4G would help users gain access to the company database through queries(Etxeberria et al., 2014). The devices would include internal computers, servers, and RFID readers as well as external devices like mobiles and laptops or computers that are used by the customers. While the company would have a specific count and configuration defined for the infernal devices, it would not have any control on the types of devices and their number for the external users and the company should have an architecture developed to accommodate as many devices as possible(Moertini, et al., 2014).1

Network for Bonsai Vet

The software used for the system would consist of DNS, storage space through hosting, e-commerce application, M-commerce mobile application, and security software. 






1 for ten years

.us extension for category


Storage Space on web

100 TB

Online hosting


E-commerce application




Product pages

SOcial Media sharing


Mobile Application

M-commerce application



Product pages

Communication system


Security Software

Enterprise-wide software




Data protection




The hardware used for the system would consist of 25 personal computers with each provided to one employee of the company and with installed operating systems. OTher than these computers for internet users, the hardware system would contain server hardware, networking cables, routers, Modems, RFID tags, and RFID scanners. 





Personal computers


Intel Core i7 processor, 1 TB hard disk


Operating System


Windows 10


Server Hardware


1.7 GHz Tower server


Networking Cables


Optical FIbre








DSL 300 T




Wireless tags


RFID Readers


Silicon Wireless UHS system




The system would use a basic architecture with the internet allowing connection of user devices with the LAN and WAN network and RFID devices through the use of connection services like Wifi, Ethernet, and Radio connected to the local network. The data would get exchanged over these networks and would provide the output back to the devices through the internet(Regola et al., 2013). The data would be scanned from the pharmacy products through the use of RFID reader that would run over RFID tags supplied with every product. This data would get connected to the local area network of the company through Wifi or ethernet in the form of radio frequencies, and the data would get stored in the company database from where it can later or instantly be retrieved over the internet through other devices including computer and mobile.

The scope of the project involving the development of an e-commerce solution for the company would include the following deliverables:

  • Procurement Installation of the server and networking equipment’s in the offices of the company
  • Procurement and delivery of personal computers with operating systems installed in each of them
  • Setting up of the internet through broadband in the company and configuration of the official email account for the company
  • Creation of the backup of the website for future data recovery in case of a disaster or risk of loss of data
  • A configuration of firewall and security systems to manage the user accounts and  system administration safely

Some different communication tools are available that can be used for collaboration between the internal employees of the organization, between the company and its partners as well as the customers. Based on the capabilities of tools, purpose of communication and parties to communication, most appropriate tool can be chosen from blogs, wikis, Instant messaging, real simple syndication, podcasting, web conferencing, SEO, and spamindexing(Kanagarajoo, 2018).

Bonsai Vet can write blogs on the portal through posts on the WordPress which would allow the company to share what is the latest thing happening in the company as well as market itself through the use of content marketing by writing relevant blogs taking on the importance of Vet pharmacy. Blogging is a popular communication mode which influences the public and media opinion about the company(SCHÄFERHOFF, 2018).

Wikis are the communal narratives that cater to the exclusive information create to a particular industry of the field of study, With the use of Wikis, the company can create awareness of the pharmacy services for veterinary purposes in consumers(Zhang, 2016).

Hardware for Bonsai Vet

Instant messaging platform like Skype and Google talk can be used by the internal employee of the company as well as the suppliers and partners for internal and supply related communication so that they can share the information and documents as well as remain updated on whatever is happening on the orders and can sort out the issues(Clark-Dickson, et al., 2016). Other social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter can be used for creating business pages and a media for communicating directly with the customers or consumers of the pharmacy products(Maurer, 2012). A company can post updated on these platforms and enable customers or consumers to post comments or directly get connected to company representatives through chats and messages. These platforms can act as the opportunity for advertising as well such that the company can choose the target market consumers such as on the Facebook and post a customized advertisement for their promotion(Aulkemeier, et al., 2015)..

Web conferencing can be used as an internal tool for connecting internal employees of the organization in case they are unable to meet in person. (Elers, 2018) It can also be used to collaborate with partners and suppliers without the need for meeting for any high-level discussions. For web conference, several communication tools can be used such as Webex, NetMeeting, and Adobe Connect(D’Amico, 2002).

SEO can be a powerful tool used on the website for enhancing the indexing of its web pages such that organic search results can be used to attract visitors on the website. The SEO would be carried out using some relevant keywords associated with the industry in which the company is operating such as pharmacy, veterinary pharmacy, and more(Sheldon, et al., 2011).

When using the e-commerce platform as the business model for the company, the company would face a variety of challenges out of which privacy would be one that is required to be managed. The challenge would arise as the platforms used for collaboration and the e-commerce functions would have people exchanging data over the internet which can get exposed to unauthentic users risking the leak or theft of the private information of a user from the system. Consumers using the e-commerce website have to be protected from some privacy-related threats such as unsolicited communication and invasion of privacy(Techtarget, 2017).

To ensure that the privacy of users is protected, the company would need to implement the security systems to protect its IT assets from getting misused by hackers or malware builders. Privacy systems protecting consumer data are needed to safeguard the information of visitors and customers of the company.


Besides this, the company would also be using mobile-based systems with RFID tags which would again expose the system to the privacy concerns as RFID details can be shared by unauthentic users causing disruptions to the privacy of the users. If privacy of users is compromised, it can lead to a loss of trust in them on the company which would affect the reputation of the company negative and which could also lead to a loss of a customer. E-commerce websites collect a large amount of data that could include personal information of users, their shopping preferences, information searches, and shopping patterns. If this data can be retrieved by anyone, it can let people know the consumption patterns of the consumers and understand their preferences. If the data is stolen, it can be reused for different purposes violating the privacy of people and the data may get shared to the third parties who can misuse it or gain unauthorized access(Burelli&Lularevic, 2015).

Thus, it is important to address privacy issues sufficiently. A simple process that can be used for this is the use of encryption through the provision of strong passwords to users for authentication, encryption of the communication exchange happening between the client and the company server, and use of public key encryption schemes to protect data from hackers (Joshi & Kapoor, 2013).

Some technologies are available that can take care of the privacy concerns for the company system users. These can be surveillance technologies such as firewall, and cookie managers, contract agreements on the private data used, technologies used for labeling of products, and use of privacy enhancement technologies (Gupta & Dubey, 2016).

Conclusions & recommendations

The aim of this report was to propose a system for reorganization and re-engineering of the company into the veterinary pharmacy from the manual systems to e-commerce based business model. The report explored the current business model of the company and suggested to make a change in it by adopting the e-commerce and m-commerce business model. In the process, the need for the technologies including software, hardware networking, and tools was discussed. Common communication tools were discovered that could help companies in enhancing coordination among people working in the organization as well as collaborating with external parties including suppliers, partners, and customers. These included SEO, web conferencing, blogs, and instant messaging.

The report proposes the development of an e-commerce website on an open source model with the use of the WordPress content management system. For e-commerce, the proposal is to develop a mobile application with multiple user interface for consumers, employees, and partners to enable the integration of different business functions. While these technologies bring new capabilities and benefits to the organization, they also present privacy challenges before the company, that are required to be addressed, such as data theft form e-commerce information exchange and leakage of RFID tag information in un-authentic users who can misuse private information for their benefit causing problems to consumers. Based on the insights obtained from the case study report, following recommendations can be made for the company to make the best use of the opportunity to transform the company into an e-commerce and m-commerce business model while also maintaining the privacy of the users:

  • A responsive theme must be used for the WordPress website allowing unique features created for retail services websites. The responsive theme would ensure that the website performs well on all platforms where it may be accessed including personal computers, laptops, tablets, and mobiles.
  • Some essential plugins can be installed on the e-commerce portal to achieve the objectives of the website including SEO, backup, security, social media sharing, chat, payment gateway integration, and analytics. These features would allow company to manage SEO keywords for indexing, create backup of web pages, secure website from unauthorized users, enable sharing of blog articles and other content on social media(Djuric-Atanasievski, 2014), allow customers and visitors to chat with the company representatives through chat feature, take online payments from customers for the online purchases, and monitoring of online user activities to gain an understanding of their preferences and website visit patterns through analytics(Ovum, 2017).
  • To ensure that privacy of the website users and visitors is maintained, some different technologies should be used for surveillance such as firewall, cookie managers, contract agreements on the private data used, and privacy enhancement technologies.
  • Some communication technologies are available that can be used collaboratively to achieve a seamless communication in the whole supply chain of the company involving company employees, end users, and partners. These include web-conferencing through platforms like Webex for internet and partner meetings, skype connection for individual discussions between employees or partners and the company.
  • Some software applications that could be installed in the company for its internal use on operational processes such as Windows, Apple OS, iOS, and Android and the application systems including web browsers, databases, word processor, spreadsheets, email services, content management system, and mobile application.
  • The company must provide training to the employees on the use of mobile and web-based applications before the project goes live so that they can effectively start using the new applications for carrying out internal operations.
  • Star topology can be used for building the network with one server providing as a hub to which all the other devices are connected such that the data is transferred by them to the database server that centrally stores all the company data.
  • Some features can help the company enhance the value of the mobile application offered including push notification, product review, checkout, analytics, and RFID tracking for inventory information. These features would enhance the value of the services and products offered by the company for the end users or buyers.



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