Evolution of Online Shopping


Evolution of Online Shopping

The Internet has been a major vehicle for changing the way people shop. Online shopping has revolutionized commerce, making it fast and easy to make purchases from literally anywhere. Even people who may not actually make purchases online will often browse the Internet to read product reviews, compare prices, and educate themselves about product features. While the rise of online shopping was largely catalyzed by retail giant Amazon, the roots of Internet retail go back much farther.

Home shopping was in its infancy during the 1980s, as a few different companies dabbled with offering home shopping services. When Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web in 1990, the stage was set for consumers to begin using this platform to buy things. Amazon launched in 1994, and eBay launched in 1995. Both of these retailers were instrumental in creating and improving e-commerce platforms.

  • An estimated 16 million people used the Internet in 1995. This number ballooned to nearly 3 billion users by 2013.
  • Google launched in 1998, providing improved search capabilities to Internet users.
  • PayPal's history began in 1998 as well, starting out as a security software company called Confinity. After a merger and a few shifts in focus, it would be renamed PayPal in 2001.

The dot-com boom happened as people rushed to invest in Internet-based companies during the late 1990s. Investors threw caution to the wind to get in on the exponential growth of the Internet, engaging in speculative investing and excessive venture capital funding for startup companies that never succeeded. Companies worked feverishly to establish their brands during this time, even spending close to their entire budget on advertising instead of spreading it out more conservatively.

  • The world of Internet commerce grew quickly into the new millennium, but in 2001 and 2002, the dot-com bubble burst.
  • Many Internet-based companies folded, and investors suffered sizable losses.
  • Amazon, eBay, and Priceline were three of the biggest companies that managed to survive after the dot-com bubble burst.

While the dot-com bubble and its end almost killed online retail, some important logistical changes came about that were key to the ultimate success of online shopping. Online retailers needed to pay close attention to managing warehouses, planning inventory, and figuring out how to make the supply chain operate. Amazon succeeded in optimizing these processes, which enabled its fast growth in the early 2000s.

Today, Amazon is arguably the biggest and most successful e-commerce business in the world. In 2018, Amazon boasted 49 percent of the e-commerce market share in the United States. Consumers use Amazon consistently because of its low prices and fast, free shipping offered via Amazon Prime. Walmart remains the largest retailer in the country, but it trails Amazon in the e-commerce business. Plenty of other retailers have fallen victim to Amazon's dominance, unable to withstand the competition.

  • Toys R Us, Sears, and JCPenney are among the many stores that have closed or are in danger of closing as more retail business shifts to the Internet.
  • Between 20 and 25 percent of all malls in America may close by 2022.

Retail sales in physical stores have slowed significantly in the past several years, while e-commerce sales are steadily climbing. With more consumers using mobile devices to search for products and research them, merchants have to have mobile-optimized websites and effective mobile advertising in place. However, while brick-and-mortar stores may not be keeping up with e-commerce in influence, e-commerce isn't expected to replace them completely: Most retailers are using both an online and a physical place of business to reach consumers.

  • Consumers like to be able to shop 24/7 online.
  • Consumers also like to be able to easily compare prices, use coupons, and receive free and fast shipping.

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