Online shopping, or e-commerce, has been around for over 30 years, though certainly not in the advanced form in which it is recognized today. In fact, it wasn’t something the general public could easily use before 1994, and wasn’t a generally trusted method of purchasing items until about 2004. And now in 2014, it seems people are as likely, if not more likely, to do their shopping online in the now commonplace tradition of e-commerce. So how did this fascinating progress from pop up ads to online shopping carts take place? To name a few major factors, innovation, determination, and technological advancement. With these, we have achieved a day when almost all business dealings can be done from just about anywhere.
How It All Started
When contemplating the beginning of online shopping, the first thought on the minds of many people would be Amazon.com. Yes this is probably the beginning of what we now recognize as e-commerce, but it actually got a start in 1979. English inventor Michael Aldrich is the father of online shopping. He used a telephone line to link a home television with a computer that processed transactions, and presto! Shopping from home was born. Of course, the idea took time to bloom and be accepted, but in May of 1984 the first home shopper bought groceries online. From there, each decade brought many new milestones for e-commerce.
So online shopping began, but not in the form by which we recognize it today. A more recognizable version of shopping from home began in 1994, when Netscape released the Navigator browser. Pointing and clicking became common in the home, and Pizza Hut® offered online ordering for the first time. Chief marketing officer Carrie Walsh was quoted at the beginning of this year saying, “… before shoppers were able to purchase such things as clothing items, books, video or music, even city breaks via the internet, they could order a pizza from the Pizza Hut online.” And of course, Amazon.com and eBay, quickly became popular and reliable sources, and were among the first to offer such modern conveniences as online shopping carts and shipping choices. By 2004, these companies were seeing net profits and much success.
The next decade led to what we see now, where advances in technology for security and convenience have caused people to feel comfortable enough to do much of their shopping online, and some to even do the majority of their shopping in this way, especially around busy times like the holiday season. If a company is successful in this day and age, it is very likely that it has a large web presence and offers products and services for purchase via the internet. Software for online shopping has progressed to a point that companies like Shopify offers a responsive shopping cart that can assist customers by suggesting items based on their shopping history, save items for a later shopping session, and allow them to buy multiple items at once, or adjust their orders at any point before the sale is finally made. It is all the convenience of a physical shopping experience, but adapted to fit into any situation or busy schedule.
The Future of E-commerce
E-commerce is stronger than ever, and is in fact still growing. One of the major reasons behind this is the ability to do online shopping from mobile devices. With technology quickly advancing, people of all ages own devices such as tablets, cell phones, and PDAs. In response to this marvel, e-commerce has evolved further to allow shopping from virtually anywhere. Customers no longer need to be sitting at a desk or computer to complete shopping desires; they can simply use a cell phone with web browsing capability. In 2013, some figures suggested that mobile devices accounted for 23% of all online retail sales, and further study suggested that it will only increase. With a future as bright as this, e-commerce has become essential to business in this modern world, and could potentially become the foremost method of conducting all trade.