Ecommerce is enroute to uproot the global retail sales scenarios. It’s expected to take control of over 25% of all retail sales around the globe by the end of 2025 and 95% by the end of 2040.
The last couple of decades have been like a boon for the online shopping industry where many eCommerce platforms came to life and blossomed. Giants like Amazon and Alibaba offer great convenience, user experience, and deals to slowly creep into users' daily lives.
From the first online purchase to the invention of Cyber Monday, the history of eCommerce has been an eventful one. But do you know what eCommerce really means today? Let’s clear first before we get into the detailed timeline of eCommerce history.
What is eCommerce?
Electronic Commerce or eCommerce has evolved into much more than just trading goods or services over the internet. It includes broader economic activities and consists of business-to-consumer as well as business-to-business commerce.
In simple terms, eCommerce refers to all manners of conducting business, data exchange, and transactions online.
Today, the world participates in various eCommerce activities such as paying bills, transferring money, or buying goods every day. This has phenomenally changed the way we do business in this technology-driven world.
The access point of eCommerce is the well-developed websites, marketplaces, or mobile applications. These are digital spaces that facilitate users to trade goods and services with an accepted form of payment.
Each eCommerce portal is powered by shopping cart software or eCommerce development platforms. Since its inception, eCommerce has been growing at a mind-blowing rate. But do you know how it got here? Do you know the history of eCommerce?
The History of eCommerce
As long as our existence goes back, humans have known that necessity is the mother of invention. And it’s true for eCommerce too. What was born out of necessity, has become a multi-trillion dollar industry.
Here’s a visual guide presenting some most hidden details and unknown facts straight out of the pages of the eCommerce history book.
How and Who Invented eCommerce?
As we know from the above graphics, the history of eCommerce can be traced back to 1948-49 when telex — a C2C network of teleprinters was used for ordering goods and sending invoices. The 1950s and 1960s saw the implementation of EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) and ARPA (Advanced Research Projects Agency).
These technologies were pioneers for what was to follow. They enabled the development of the internet we know today and share business documents seamlessly through EDI, which replaced the mail and fax systems.
But it wasn’t until 1979 that the marvel of the internet age was born. In the September of that year, Micheal Aldrich and his team at Redifon presented their ideas at the Data Entry Management Association Conference in New Orleans.
Aldrich’s idea of using videotex to send text-based messages to the other end of the television sets via telephone lines received a massive positive response. However, the idea was born purely out of hatred of heading to grocery stores for weekly shopping.
Aldrich had imagined his idea to be implemented for the consumer (B2C) segment, however, the B2B market was more excited about this development and adopted the online shopping trend.
What Was the First Purchase Made Online?
It makes more logical sense that the first eCommerce purchase would have happened after online shopping was invented. However, the answer to the question “What was the first purchase?” is subjective and depends on how you perceive online shopping.
If we revisit the pages of eCommerce history, there are many contenders that can qualify for the first eCommerce transaction. Some are either illegal or did not check all the boxes of an eCommerce transaction. For the sake of it, we’ll list them here for you to decide yourself.
The first of the many is a deal struck between the students of Stanford and MIT university around 1971-72 to trade some weed via ARPANET. This represents the first deal of any kind taking place on the internet, though it was illegal.
Other contenders include when a person used a talking computer to call up a pizzeria to order pizza for himself in 1974. A similar instance took place when a 72-year-old lady named Jane Snowball used Videotex to order groceries and some magazines in 1984. They both paid in cash at the time of delivery, thus, many disqualify them as an online sale.
What counts as a legitimate eCommerce transaction is an online sale taking place in August of 1994 when a person sold a CD of Sting’s to a friend for $12.48 + shipping. The money was transferred online through a credit card by using data encryption software.
Since then eCommerce has never looked back as the world witnessed a multifold growth of online shopping.
History of eCommerce in Australia
eCommerce history in Australia is a bit short as the concept of online shopping took off a little late in the country. ARPANET was introduced in Australia around the mid-1970, but Australia’s first online store — SiteZero emerged in the mid-1990s.
Around the same time, Woolworths — a prominent eCommerce store of today started offering a limited form of online shopping. In 1999, Coles — an Australian supermarket chain commenced the online journey of offering grocery shopping.
By 2000, there were 2.2 million online shoppers and in 2001 eCommerce sales were reported to be $2.9 billion. Since then, eCommerce in Australia has seen tremendous growth due to which the country stands at 11th position and is expected to cross $66 billion by the end of 2025.
The Future of eCommerce
The detailed infographic on the history of eCommerce rightly mentioned that the future of eCommerce will be bright and shiny. With such massive growth in eCommerce around the world and in Australia, one industry will also be in equal demand and that is shipping & logistics.
Order shipping forms an integral part of your eCommerce business and revenue generation. Taking care of product shipping can really be a pain in the neck but not if you partner with industry leaders like PACK & SEND.