E-commerce platforms have seen a huge rise in the past few decades. With the advancement of the internet, many businesses have moved forward to the internet in order to sell their products and services. Most businesses today use a multitude of platforms like websites, mobile and web applications and social media to sell their products and services and maintain their online business.
While it has been some time since businesses began to realise the importance of best e-commerce platforms, it is essential to look at the history of e-commerce platforms around the world as well as in India.
Although, in order to understand the history, let’s briefly understand what e-commerce is.
What are e-commerce platforms?
E-commerce, in simple words, refers to the process of buying and selling goods using the internet. Although, it is not just that. E-commerce also includes maintaining a relationship with clients online, ensuring delivery of packages, reaching out to the right clients around the world and marketing a business online.
Everything ranging from online shopping to making a digital payment through encryptions comes under the purview of e-commerce.
Businesses use websites and web and mobile applications, along with social media, to promote and operate their e-commerce businesses.
E-commerce doesn’t just consist of organisations that focus on business-to-consumer sales but also on business-to-business sales on online platforms.
The History of E-Commerce Platforms — Worldwide
Even when the internet was not known widely around the globe, businesses began to grow their organisations on the World Wide Web platform.
There have been many remarkable breakthroughs in the history of e-commerce platforms. Let’s take a look at where it all began.
In the 1960s, Electronic Data Interchange was developed which paved the way for e-commerce businesses. Through Electronic Data Interchange enabled effortless data transfer from one computer to another and eliminated the system of faxing and mailing documents.
In 1969, CompuServe, which was the first American commercial online service provider, was launched.
A decade after this, in 1979, Michael Aldrich invented the idea of electronic shopping. The idea of electronic shopping came to Aldrich when he was having a conversation with his wife about weekly shopping at the supermarket. This led to them hooking up a television in their supermarket and having them deliver the groceries they required. This invented the idea of teleshopping which gave premise to e-commerce.
In 1982, Minitel was launched by France which enabled telephone subscribers use Videotex terminals and connected millions through a computing network. In 1997, more than 7 million homes had a Minitel connection.
California State Assembly passed an act imposing some restrictions regarding selling and buying of goods through telecommunications network in 1984.
In 1990, Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau came up with the idea of launching World Wide Web. In 1991, World Wide Web was launched for the public to serve the internet, and that is when URL, HTTP, HTML were born.
National Science Foundation (NSF) in 1991, lifted most restrictions for people to begin using the net and giving way to online shopping. And in 1995, National Science Foundation began charging a fee for buying domain names.
In the 1990s, internet was advancing towards being used for commercial purposes. This began as websites like Amazon were launched in 1995, as an online bookstore. Since, Amazon was an online store, it was able to provide customers with a lot more options than general bookstores.
In 1992, Book Stacks launched its first online bookstore. In 1994, Netscape Navigator had been launched as a web brower.
While Amazon has grown to a huge scale today. It was through this that other businesses saw potential in e-commerce business. Amazon was also among the first websites that used user reviews for products and that technique. Which is still the most effective driving force for businesses.
In 1997, Miva launched its first e-commerce product based on a catalogue. Other than this, in 1995 an online auction site, eBay was launched.
In 1998, Paypal was launched as the go-to platform for e-commerce payments. Alibaba revolutionalised shopping in 1999.
E-Commerce History Under 2000
In 2000, Google introduced digital advertising tool Google Adwords that has helped millions of businesses worldwide. Shopify, which ahs made developing a website effortless, was launched in 2004. E-commerce platforms like Etsy came into being by 2005.
Facebook started sponsored stories for businesses in 2011 as a form of advertising on social media and in 2017. Shoppable Instagram came into being that has helped thousands of small businesses grow.
As the Covid-19 pandemic hit the world, it became difficult for businesses to keep away from the technology. It was during Covid that e-commerce growth was at its peak and there is no going back anymore.
The Growth History of E-Commerce in India
The idea of e-commerce came across the world a while before it came to India. E-commerce was first heard of in India in 1991. When only a few people had access to the internet but buying and selling goods online was not something anyone had imagined.
The first transaction that came into being through the Internet wasn’t until 2002, when Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) launched an online reservation system. This not only made Indians accept the use of internet but also made lives a lot easier.
This was also a time when Amazon had begun getting traction in the US.
India’s first real step towards e-commerce platforms was when two IIT Delhi engineers decided to sell books online and created Flikart.
Other online ticket reservation systems like airlines and Make My Trip came into being to enable people in booking their own tickets.
Soon after the launch of Flipkart, secure online payment mechanisms like PayPal were launched. It become easier for clients to make payments before the arrival of their order.
Online platforms like Myntra, Amazon and thousands other came into being and e-commerce flourished in India like never before.
With the arrival of Jio in 2015, the face of internet changed in India. It was through Jio that every Indian had access to internet at a limited cost and e-commerce platforms became more and more accessible.
As the Covid-19 spread across the country, big and small businesses adhered to the internet to continue their sales. Many SMEs sought help from the internet platforms like websites, web and mobile applications and social media in order to grow and earn profits.