The History of Online Retail

Online retail has changed the way people shop a hundredfold. Today, people can now purchase products through the Internet at the comfort of their homes, without minding the store or mall opening times. It is fast-evolving and continues to transform, bestowing more features or options for shoppers across the world. Yet, online retails’ present popularity didn’t surge overnight, it took decades for it to emerge and flourish. In this article, let’s go back in time and take a look at the important events that led it to become nowadays’ most convenient form of shopping. Read on to know more.

1979: English inventor invented e-commerce by devising a system, which allowed the advertisement of services and goods on television, and provided customers and businesses the ability to make purchases or do transactions through telephone lines. A system called “teleshopping,” which Aldrich invented due to being fed up with constant trips to the market started revolutionizing the way people shop.

1982: Minitel, a videotex service, was launched by French innovators. It’s a free online service made accessible to customers via phone lines and allows them not only to place orders but also to check stock prices and book tickets. It was a hit and connected about 25 million people before it was eclipsed by the World Wide Web

1982: Boston Computer Exchange, an online market intended for people wanting to sell their second hand computers, was launched using a Delphi bulletin board system and became the first e-commerce company in the world.

1990: Tim-Bernes Lee created the World Wide Web, which is undoubtedly one of the most marvelous inventions, which soon connected people from all over the world. A year later, it was commercialized and changed the landscape of e-commerce, and became the significant proponent of online shopping.

1992: Book Stacks Unlimited was launched and predated the giant Amazon in online book sales.

1994: Concerns about the safety and security of online retails emerged, but this was solved with Netscape’s invention of the Secure Socket Layers (SSL) technology, which allows safe transmission of data over the Internet. SSL makes it difficult to intercept the exchange of information, protecting sensitive and private user data. Today, SSL remains one of the important features of web security.

1995: Whether it’s destiny or a mere coincidence, two online marketplace startups launched, namely  Amazon.com and eBay, and started their journey in dominating the world of e-commerce.

1998: Paypal entered the market and offered payment processing services for online users and vendors, further revolutionized e-commerce by serving as a safe gateway for online payments.

1999: Alibaba.com, a Chinese marketplace, joined the party.

2005: Amazon stepped up the competition by introducing Amazon Prime, which provided flat-rate, two-day shipping. Esty was also launched in the same year, catering to smaller crafters and sellers, signaling the advent of community e-commerce.

2011: Facebook entered the e-commerce arena by allowing businesses to make ads to target consumers through Facebook stories. Meanwhile, Stripe and Google Wallet both launched, further solidifying the industry of online payments.

2014-2015: Apple followed the bandwagon of smartphones and mobile payment by launching Apple Pay. Google introduced Android Pay a year later, but it was unified with Google Wallet and rebranded to Google Pay in 2018.

2019: ECommerce sales hit $3.5 trillion.

Today, it’s hard to imagine a world without online shopping. While it doesn’t completely replace the traditional way of shopping at grocery stores and malls, it served as a convenient alternative to get products and services. Yet, with the continuous advancement of technology and seeing how e-commerce progressed since its inception. Who knows how far online retail can go? While we aren’t sure what is there to come, we can be confident that all that will make online shopping even more beneficial and exciting.