A history of eCommerce: How it began!
Ecommerce has been a force that has transformed the nature of business done both domestically and internationally. The landscape of ecommerce as we know it today was not always as it is now. What once was a questionable extra source of sales for business both large and small has evolved into a global source of profitability.
Today, business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs around the world depend on ecommerce for their livelihood. The internet has acted as a bridge for consumers young and old to be able to find products they need that in the past they would never have been able to access. Ecommerce has led to greater options, and as a result greater competition between businesses to deliver the best product for consumer needs. Almost everything and anything can be purchased online from toothbrushes to engraved musical instruments and beyond.
Why Did Ecommerce Begin?
It’s history shows a natural progression that is closed tied to the development of the internet as a tool for exchanging information and services. The spread of personal computers in consumer homes amongst the global population was a catalyst that lead to businesses adapting. Now, everyone from merchants to manufacturers use the internet to offer their products and services. Anyone can create a product to sell online whether due to their craftsmanship or the brand they have cultivated.
Business to business, termed B2B ecommerce has made the exchange of services/goods between businesses a necessity for many manufacturers and sellers in the electronics and business services industry. The internet is inescapable.
What is ecommerce? How did it begin?
To understand how ecommerce began, first it must be defined. Ecommerce can essentially be defined as “the process of exchanging information, goods, or services between two or more parties using electronic payment”. When ecommerce began, it was initially used for the sale of cannabis between Stanford University and Massachusetts Institute Of Technology students. This foreshadowed some of the more illicit uses of the internet for sales that would culminate in the creation of SilkRoad/The Dark Web.
Beyond asking what is ecommerce, understanding its early uses is equally essential. Michael Aldrich, an entrepreneur and inventor developed the first systems for allowing consumer communication with corporate entities for the purpose of being able to communicate regarding purchases. Tims Berner-Lee developed the first web server and browser for what we have come to known as the Internet. Their inventions combined led to the subsequent rapid commercialization of the internet during the next three decades.
Initially consumers were worried about the security of their credit card and other personal information that was required to make online purchases. Once the first SSL encryption was developed, information was able to be encrypted and then transmitted far more securely than before.
From Pizza Hut’s creation of the first online pizza shop, to Amazon’s rise to domination an ecommerce juggernaut, each step in the history of ecommerce has been toward bringing consumers and businesses what they need at a faster and cheaper rate.
What is an ecommerce website?
An ecommerce website, also referred to as an online store or online shop, is any website that offers goods or services in exchange for payment. An ecommerce website can either be a direct seller and producer of the goods or services or it can be a reseller/aggregator.
Amazon is both a reseller and an aggregator. Shopping search engines are ecommerce sites that offer customers the ability to search for a product they need and see comparisons/options for buying what they are looking for at different prices, colors, sizes and more. Sites like these have led to the hypercompetitive market that has been cultivated.
Ecommerce websites through a combination of marketing and superior customer service and competitive pricing attempt to turn the question of “what is an ecommerce website” in potential consumers’ minds to “why should I use any other website”. Customer loyalty is a dedicated focus for most ecommerce companies as not only making the initial sale is important but reliably capturing a portion of the market ensures longevity amongst constantly emerging newer business attempting to cut in.
The rising sales and use of handheld devices ranging from iPads, tablet PCs, and mobile devices have in turn led to a greater part of the global population being able to purchase online. This has created a cycle that as more mobile users are connected to the digital mall that the internet has become, the more sales occur. The accessibility provided by mobile devices has made the convenience of buying online from anywhere even more convenient through the use of apps. As the human population and the internet become more interconnected, ecommerce sales will continue to rise.