Ecommerce or electronic commerce is referred to as the process of buying and selling of goods and services on the Internet. Since the past decade, the internet has changed the way people buy and sell products and services. Being a part of ecommerce can be in various forms, such as, purchasing goods, buying services, opting for subscription plans, or even scheduling bill payments. Imagining a life without ecommerce and the internet is not only unimaginable but also practically inconvenient and complicated. However, as long as the internet and ecommerce have been an indispensable part of our lives, there existed a time when these were not even prevailing, and that’s not far ago. Ecommerce was first introduced in its earliest form, only 40 years ago. Since then, ecommerce has facilitated the growth of many businesses with the help of newer technologies, the internet, widespread business adoption, and improvisations. In this blog, we will be answering to two of the major and trending questions in the ecommerce market:
- What is the history of the internet?
- How did ecommerce begin?
What is the history of the internet?
The invention of the internet cannot be confined to a single person; it was a combined work of many pioneering scientists, engineers, and programmers, who individually developed features and technologies that merged into one to become the information highway, popularly known as the internet. Long before the existence of the technology, a few scientists had predicted the presence of worldwide information networks. During the early 1900s, Nikola Tesla played with the idea of a global wireless system. Between the 1930s and 1940s, visionary thinkers such as Vannevar Bush and Paul Otlet pictured of automated, searchable storage systems for books and media.
In the early 1960s, J. C. R. Licklider made the idea of an intergalactic network of computers, widely popular. Soon after, the concept of packet switching was developed that implies to a method for transmitting electronic data effectively; which later became one of the major building blocks of the internet In the late 19060s, the first functioning internet prototype., ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network), utilized packet switching to let multiple computers for communicating through a single network. In the year 1969, ARPANET accomplished its 1st node-to-node communication from one computer to the other, wherein the first computer was located in LUCA and the other one at Stanford. The computers used were each of the sizes of resembling a small house. However, the Stanford computer received only the first two letters of the note in this attempt.
The technology was developed continuously in the 1970s when scientists Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf formed the Transmission Control Protocol and Internet Protocol (TCP/IP), which referred to a communication model that establishes data transferring standards between multiple networks. In 1983, ARPANET adopted TCP/IP from wherein researchers started to compile the network of networks, which is now, in the modern world, known as the Internet. When computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee, in 1990, invented the World Wide Web, the online world took a more substantial form. While the WWW is mostly confused with the Internet itself, it is simply a means of accessing online data through websites and hyperlinks. The web aided in popularizing the internet and served as a major step in developing the vast information that we get to access every day now.
With the trend of internet connection and web browsers becoming the new normal, businesses started purchasing domain names and aimed at creating a website. In 1991, the restrictions on the commercial use of the internet were lifted by the National Science Foundation. Two of the most successful ecommerce giants today, Amazon and eBay, were established back in the year 1994. In the late 1900s, the rush in the ecommerce business investment led to the dot-com bubble and in the early 2000s, the dot-com bubble busted. Although the dot-com bubble had a few drawbacks, it helped in internet connections were laid around the globe for thousands of miles during the time.
How did ecommerce begin?
When in 1979, Michael John Aldrich connected his phone line and a 26-inch tube TV to his computer in Sussex Industrial Estate to activate a simple program known as ‘Teleshopping’, he might not have the farthest knowledge of how his idea would develop in the future. Aldrich wanted to find a way out after being frustrated for having to walk to the grocery store with his wife, every week. He wanted to make things simpler for himself as well as his wife. The continuously emerging technologies were laying opportunities for him to make purchasing of products possible without having to leave the comfort of one’s home. Like many other innovative ideas of the modern age, Aldrich’s aim was to make life a better and convenient place to live in, using technology. Although due to lack of technological developments and the public understanding of digital technology, his idea was indeed tried to be destroyed; but, it didn’t stay for long.
While the awareness for computer technology was speedily growing during the 1980s, the majority of the population didn’t understand what these quick developments actually meant. While the Business to Consumer ecommerce model was primarily nonexistent, a few Business to Business dealings were already made in the 1980s, only at the elemental level. In the year 1984, the British grocery super brand, Tesco brought the first online shopping basket through its first online shopping system with the first B2C consumer — Jane Snowball, a British pensioner. While some understood the powerful potentials of the internet and ecommerce, there were still some who weren’t completely ready to accept it as a way of life. However, things soon changed with the invention of the internet and the World Wide Web. In the year 1991, the WWW was unleashed. However, it was only confined to the globe’s biggest computer scientists, under the control of the National Science Foundation or NSF.
Soon enough, the public showed interest in getting access to the World Wide Web, and by 1993, the electronic mail, commonly known as email, laid its inceptions, paving ways to firing up the global internet usage. Later, third-party services began to propagate for processing the online credit card payments. In the latter-1900s, the ecommerce brands bloomed, being able to deliver practical ecommerce solutions, more conveniently. As the world started acknowledging the potentials of earning money through internet commerce, cash flow doubled, and tripled in the early ecommerce brands. eBay and PayPal carved their names in establishing their space in the ecommerce market when the dot-com bubble had become a serious concern. By 1999, the ecommerce business skyrocketed and the dot-com bubble eventually busted. Even with the agitation of the ‘millennium bug’, growth was determined and continuous in the ecommerce market. With the evolution of the new millennium of the digital age, the brick and mortar stores were slowly losing their power over the market.
With the beginning of the new millennium and the public overcoming from the fear of the bug, ecommerce bloomed to become a successful and long-lasting power. Amazon continued to become the superpower in the ecommerce industry. Global retail sites such as eBay saw unbelievable growth in sales. As eBay acquired PayPal in the year 2002, the fear of security in online payments in the public minds started ebbing. Soon enough, PayPal turned to become the gold-standard for online payments. With the introduction of social media platforms such as Facebook and Myspace, the way people interacted on the internet drastically changed. Gradually, with the invention of smartphones and other mobile technologies, ecommerce started shifting to mobile phones, and the term hence coined as m-commerce.
The 2010s is known as the digital generation wherein the people born during this age will know the internet as something that always existed. The ecommerce revenues reached unimaginable heights,. The ecommerce brands kept evolving and Amazon became the ecommerce giant in the global ecommerce market. The products that were ruling the ecommerce services, now gave ways for smaller and essential products to be delivered online. The Asian ecommerce giants such as Alibaba established their global presence. By the year 2015, Amazon accounted above half of the global ecommerce market. With Amazon, Google, and Facebook pushing all the boundaries of development by implementing every technology out there, the ecommerce market has taken the shape of what we see today. Indeed, today, everything is available online and this was the journey taken for what we get today.