In the days of interweb infancy, the action of purchasing products online was often accompanied by visions of shady characters ready to steal your credit card information. This image, however, has changed in recent years to become a fully accepted part of the buying process for a vast majority of consumers. How did this come to be?
Entering your credit card information online may still trigger an irrational fear in the back of your mind. In spite of this, you may still proceed with an online purchase, trusting the advanced state of online security to ward off identity thieves.
At what point did we transition into acceptance, paving the way for online shopping frenzies like Cyber Monday?
Milestones of E-commerce
To answer this question, it may be pertinent to take a brief look at how E-commerce has evolved over the years and examine the obstacles it had to overcome.
1979- Michael Aldrich is credited with inventing online shopping by connecting a modified domestic TV to a real-time transaction processing computer via a domestic telephone line.
1982- Minitel was introduced in France and was used for online ordering.
1994- Netscape releases the Navigator browser. Pizza Hut offers online ordering on its web page, and the first online bank opens.
1998- PayPal comes into existence.
2002- eBay acquires PayPal for $1.5 billion and changes the scope of online shopping forever.
2003- After eight years, Amazon posts its first yearly profit.
2012- US E-commerce and online retail sales are projected to reach $226 billion (an increase of 12% over 2011).
Fears of E-commerce
So what are some of the main obstacles and deterrents that are blocking the path to a complete acceptance of Ecommerce over all demographics?
Anxiety over online identity theft and credit card fraud.
Not being able to physically see or feel the product before purchase. Some companies have overcome this hurdle through sampling.
The hassle of returning unwanted goods (which many companies are getting better at).
High costs of shipping associated with online purchases.
Addressing the Concerns
Some organizations have addressed the concerns of these remaining obstacles to produce a greater acceptance of Ecommerce:
Do you like the idea of purchasing something at auction from a complete stranger? Neither does anyone else. eBay became successful due to the backing and protection of its consumers. If your item doesn’t arrive as promised, Ebay has your back!
Securing information since 1998, Pay Pal has taken the worry out of entering credit card information online. Similar to eBay, it protects consumers by offering refunds and secure servers to keep information safe.
Like eBay, Amazon offers free shipping depending on the product and if you exceed a certain purchase limit. This has helped lead the industry in making free shipping a mainstay of online shopping.
These companies above have virtually revolutionized Ecommerce and have allowed us to avoid the craziness of Black Friday shopping by purchasing desired products online in the comfort of our homes. Although having inherent limitations, online shopping is becoming a more and more accepted means of making purchases and will continue to make advances in the consumer landscape in the coming years. That being said, it is important for companies desiring to attain an e-commerce site to understand its history and the fears associated with e-commerce. Understanding these things put you in a position to strategically approach your own buyer personas in a way they will respond positively to.