Tribute Media | Inbound Marketing Blog

The Evolution of E-commerce

Written by Wally Narwhal | Aug 21, 2015 3:00:00 PM

Back in the dawn of the Internet, people viewed purchasing products online with a certain wariness. Images of scammers and other shady individuals looking to rip you off and steal your credit card information loomed large in users' minds.

Today, this is much less the case. While identity and information theft are still significant concerns, making online purchases has become a widely accepted practice for a majority of consumers. In this blog, we'll take a look at the steps by which Ecommerce entered the mainstream.

A Brief History of E-commerce

By common consensus, Ecommerce began in 1979, when British inventor and entrepreneur Michael Aldrich figured out how to connect a real-time order processing computer to a specially modified TV using a telephone line.

Some other significant events in the history of E-commerce include:

  • 1982--France deploys Minitel, a pre-Internet service that lets users check stock prices, make travel reservations, do online banking and more.
  • 1994--Netscape unveils its Navigator browser. Pizza Hut's website offers online ordering. The first online bank opens.
  • 1998--PayPal goes live.
  • 2002--Ebay acquires PayPal for $1.5 billion.
  • 2003--Amazon.com posts its first annual profit in eight years of business.
  • 2012--US E-commerce sales total $225.5 billion, an increase of almost 16% from 2011

E-commerce Challenges and Solutions

E-commerce still faces a variety of challenges that make some consumers wary of using it. These challenges include:

  • Concerns about identity theft and credit card fraud
  • The inability to see products before buying them
  • The inconvenience of returning damaged or unwanted goods
  • High shipping costs for online purchases.

There's no way to see and handle a product online before purchasing it (a good return policy can help here). However, prominent websites have worked to resolve the other concerns:

  • PayPal--PayPal offers customers refunds and secure servers to ensure that their funds and information are safe.
  • Ebay--The idea of buying something auctioned off by a complete stranger isn't especially appealing. That's why Ebay backs and protects all of its transactions.
  • Amazon--If you hit a minimum purchase limit or buy a particular product, Amazon offers free shipping. This policy has helped make free shipping a common practice in online shopping.
These companies have helped make E-commerce and online shopping an increasingly accepted way of purchasing products. In all likeliness, these and other sites will continue to do so in the coming years.