The Ever-Changing World of E-Commerce: What It Was Then and What It Is Now

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Today, leaving your home and physically going to the store almost sounds prehistoric… younger generations make it sound like one of those horrific times in history that they wouldn’t be able to survive if it ever came back! Well, that’s the thing about technological advancements… it comes with the good but it also comes with a few bad aspects as well but in the retail shopping industry, the good always outweighs the bad!

The good part about it is the convenience of it all. Do you understand how less of a headache it is to do ALL of your back-to-school shopping without having to set foot in a store? You no longer have to endure the long lines and parents fighting over the last Lisa Frank Butterfly backpack for their daughter… you can simply order everything you need, put it in your online shopping cart, pay for your items, and wait to receive them in the mail… it’s as simple as that!

In today’s day and age, the thought of living a life without online shopping would be the equivalent to the end of days. It’s just amazing how quickly people have adopted online shopping as a preferred method of shopping and see it as a detrimental part of life when it was only a few decades ago when the whole idea of e-commerce came in to play. Before that, you pretty much had to physically go out and buy what you wanted.


In a Nutshell…

The beginnings of e-commerce started about 40 or so years ago and now more than ever, the industry continues to grow and flourish with new businesses, technologies, and innovations emerging every year. Things like teleshopping and Electronic Data Interchanges (EDI) really gave the world of e-commerce the kickstart it needed to be the huge success it is today.

One thing to also keep in mind is that you can’t really share the history of e-commerce stores without discussing how closely intertwined it is with the internet. It’s because of the internet’s emergence in the early 90s that online shopping came to be what it is now. Amazon was one of the first e-commerce sites in the US to start selling products online so can you see now why Amazon is one of the leading e-commerce sites in the world?

In case you couldn’t quite fully understand the magnitude of that, it’s a huge deal. One of the major factors that search engines look for on websites that helps them rank higher is the age of a website. The longer a business has a website, that search engine is going to look at it as though it’s a more credible website. That reason alone is one of the reasons why whenever you search for a particular product, Amazon listings are one of the first few that you see… clearly, lots of other businesses did the same thing and saw huge success. 

Since the emergence of e-commerce stores, there, of course, things have been changed. Convenience, user experience, and safety have all improved drastically to create a better online shopping experience and the future of online shopping will only get better. 


The E-Commerce Timeline: Going Through the Years

1960 to 1982

It was during this time that EDI took over and ultimately replaced traditional methods of mailing and faxing important documents by way of digital transfers… computer to computer. This method allows the transfer of information without people getting involved at all.

1982 to 1990

In 1982, the predecessor to the internet was called the Minitel. It was free for people who had landlines, connecting millions of people to a computing network. The Minitel was short-lived though, falling to its demise three years later. The internet clearly won that race.

E-Commerce: Past and Present

It wasn’t until the early 90s, that the “World Wide Web” came to be, by Tim Berners Lee and Robert Cailliau. Lee is who wrote the first web browser and made it service on the internet, leading him to develop URL, HTML, and HTTP. With the invention of this, there was a restriction on commercial use of the internet but it was lifted and this is when online shopping had major growth. 

It was during that time where you could pay a small fee to get your domain name. Even to this very day, websites like allow you to get a domain name and be on your way to starting your own e-commerce business. Fast forward to today, the biggest enhancements in the e-commerce world is in the marketplaces, payments, and becoming mobile-friendly.


Amazon was launched in 1995. It was solely an online bookstore but has grown to be one of the biggest retailers of anything you can imagine in the world. It went from selling only books to now selling:● Music● Clothing● Housewares● Furniture● Books● Toys

Following in Amazon’s footsteps, other marketplaces like eBay and Etsy have quickly become one of the top go-to places to satisfy your online shopping needs but boy oh boy has it come a very long way!

The Evolution of Online Payments

With the emergence of e-commerce, the main payment platform was PayPal. It began serving various websites in 1998 and is utilized by over 200 different markets. PayPal allows users to send, receive, and hold money in different currencies all over the world but with this surge in financial dealings over the internet, there became a drastic need for a safe and secure way to handle the transactions.

In 2004, the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council was introduced to make sure businesses complied with the many security standards and requirements. In short, it was created to protect account data. By 2010, the payment platform Square emerged, adding a little more freedom with various payment options across mobile devices.

The Mobile World Grows

By far, mobile shopping is the most popular way to shop now. The ability to make purchases from the palm of your hand is what made this phenomenon grow. Amazon launched its first mobile e-commerce site and saw a huge increase in sales. That’s why one of the biggest parts of having a successful e-commerce site is to make sure it’s mobile-friendly.

In 2017, more than one-third of e-commerce sales were made by way of mobile devices… as mentioned earlier, it’s the comfort and convenience of it all. Not only that but people want what they want, right then, so being able to make a purchase from their phone through an app as soon as they think about it, satisfies their need for instant gratification.

This is not just some trend that’s here today and gone tomorrow… you can expect to see bigger and newer innovations unlike you’ve seen before. Just keep your eyes open and witness the evolution!


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