Before we talk about e-Commerce and its evolution through time, let’s define it: In simple terms, we can say that e-Commerce is the process of purchase of goods, products or services in which two or more parties carry out a business transaction through the internet, or in other words, they trade online.
This type of commerce is becoming more popular thanks to the internet and the growing interest among users to make their purchases this way, since it provides many advantages compared with traditional methods. Among other advantages, it's available 24/7 all year round, it doesn’t have geographical barriers, it has a greater market reach, it's open to new niches and it costs less.
That's why this trading method has become more popular and is attracting new people every day. There are different types of e-Commerce, depending on the nature of their transactions:
- B2B (Business-to-Business): Companies dealing with other companies or organizations.
- B2C (Business-to-Consumer): Companies dealing with consumers (the most common type).
- B2G (Business-to-Government): Companies dealing with government institutions.
- C2C (Consumer-to-Consumer): Trading among particulars, meaning consumers buying and selling with other costumers.
- C2B (Consumer-to-Business): Consumers that sell to business.
The e-Commerce is based in the growth of the internet. It had a difficult beginning caused by the mistrust on online shopping by people who felt exposed to scams or identity thefts. Although these problems still persist, they have decreased considerably over time, which is why increasingly more people are joining this new form of commerce.
The e-Commerce era began in 1979, with the British Michael Aldrich, who discovered a way to connect a computer to a television through a phone line in order to process orders in real time.
The predecessor of what is known today as the internet, called Minitel, was developed in France in 1982. With this method, people were able to review stock prices and do online banking, among other things.
But it is until 1994 when e-Commerce truly started, executing and recording the first online sale of a pepperoni pizza. That is the same year Netscape Navigator browser made its debut and the Pizza Hut’s website began talking online orders. Also that year, Stanford Federal Credit Union was the first financial institution to offer online internet banking services to all of its members.
Companies accepting electronic payments began to appear in 1998, and since then this form of payment not only has thrived but expanded to new technologies, like cryptocurrencies.
Here is a list of some companies that have accepted online payments almost since their beginnings:
Amazon: The 'king' of e-Commerce and one of the first companies that relied on the internet to sell their products.
eBay: Online store whose model of operation is the auctioning of products.
Alibaba: Chinese multinational e-Commerce, retail, and technology conglomerate, where people can trade multiple products from the Asian country. It is the world's sixth-largest internet company by revenue.
Apple.com: One of the largest and most innovative companies on the planet. Its products –iPhone, iPad, iPod– are sold all around the world thanks to its virtual store.
Wal-Mart: In addition to being the largest retail chain in the world, the company has strengthened its brand by selling its products online.
Hewelett-Packard: It's the largest seller of PCs in the world and continues to be in that position thanks in part to the strengthening of its online store.
Mercado Libre: The largest e-Commerce website in Latin America and the fourth-largest in the world. It has offices in most countries of the region and its operations continue to grow with the booming of electronic commerce in the continent.
We can see there is a huge business potential through the internet worldwide and how every day different companies join this trend to avoid becoming outdated.
By Ana María Morales
Sources: Entrepreneur, Actualidad e-Commerce, Portafolio