The history of online shopping

The history of online shopping
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eCommerce sales for 2021 are expected to exceed $4.9trillion USD!

The ability to go online and purchase what we want or need within a minutes is something that the world has become strangely acustom to, and is certainly something that over time will become even more integrated.

Check out these important steps taken to drive the e-commerce world we know today, the ability for instant access has been a long time in the making…

The History of Online Shopping Infographic

1979 – It all began when Michael Aldrich ‘invented’ online shopping.  Using videotex, a two way message service, it revolutionised businesses. We now know this as e-commerce.

1981 – Saw the first business to business transaction by UK based Thomson holidays.

1982 – Mintel, a videotex online service accessible by telephone lines, could be used to make online purchases, train reservations, check stock prices, chat and search a telephone directory. It is considered the most successful pre WWW online service.

1984 – The first ever shopper buys online at a Tesco store.

1985 – Nissan carries out the first online credit check.

1987SWREG was founded. This offered businesses a chance to sell products online.  As it is today, SWREG offers many payment options, as well as customization and distribution into international markets. Users can purchase items with their currency of preference using all major debit and credit cards.

1989 – In the USA the first online grocery store starts trading.

1990Tim Berners-Lee created the first WWW server and browser.  This started a whole new revolution. Nearly 25 years on, he is today still working hard at guiding the development and spread of the web, using the mantra ‘If it isn’t on the web then it isn’t happening’.

1991 – The internet is commercialised and we saw the birth of e-commerce.

1994 – Netscape launches the first commercial browser, which was once the dominant browser in terms of ‘visitors.’  It lost out in the first browser war.

1995 – Amazon started selling books online; currently it sells almost anything. Companies like Dell and Cisco started using the internet for all their transactions. eBay is founded by Pierre Omidyar, though it was originally called Auctionweb.

1997 – Began the era of comparison sites.

1998Paypal is founded. This enabled transactions of money without sharing financial information and gave customers the flexibility to pay using their PayPal account balances, bank accounts, PayPal Credit and other credit cards.  Today, people can now pay across their favorite apps in a single touch (one touch) on any platform, eliminating the need for usernames and passwords each time you pay.

1999 – the first online-only shop began, ‘Zappos’ although it was later bought by Amazon for $1.2 bn.

2001 – Amazon launches mobile services.

2003US online shopping hits $50 billion, in the same year Amazon posted their first yearly profit of $35.3m.

2005 – Social commerce emerges.  Consumers begin to recommend items to friends via Facebook and Twitter

2007 – A Pew Internet research study found that 81% of the Americans they surveyed had searched online for a product they intended to buy, with 15% doing so almost every single day. 66% of online users said they had actually bought something online.

2008 – Increase in growth of online shopping by 17% from the last year in the US, with ecommerce sales figures around $204 billion.  In the same year Groupon is launched as is Magneto – so anyone could have a go at creating their own online store.

2013 – UK shoppers spent a whopping £91bn online.

2014 – In 2014, 198 million U.S. consumers bought something online in the first quarter alone,(comScore) which is 78% of the U.S. population age 15 and above.

2015 – Today’s shoppers combine online shopping with real life shopping, using access to WiFi and the showrooming trend. They often make purchases in a retail stores at the same time as using mobile devices to buy something online.  In fact, this Forbes report tells us that 74 per cent of people use their mobile phone to help them while shopping, with 79 per cent making a purchase as a result.

2016 – Social media shopping arrives. Facebook Marketplace is launched in October to compete with industry leaders such as Etsy and eBay

2017 – Instagram shopping is introduced with help from their e-commerce partner BigCommerce.

2020 – The Covid-19 pandemic triggered a global lift-off for e-commerce as stores were forced to shut. By May 2020, e-commerce sales had exceeded $80bn displaying a 77% rise YoY.

It’s estimated that global eCommerce sales will reach $6.4trillion USD by 2024