e-Commerce began as a trickle during the mid-1990s. By the turn of the century, online retailing had become a veritable bubble, and in the early 2000s, that bubble burst, causing millions of people to lose faith in online shopping.
During the chaos that ensued, a number of e-Businesses survived. In fact, some (like Amazon, Ebay and Shutterfly) actually thrived, and their success helped to restore confidence in e-Commerce and attract a lot more competition.
The impact of these early pioneers is with us even today, and their ongoing success continues to reshape the e-Commerce landscape.
Let's explore how.
1. The Internet Has Become a Buyer’s Market
The emergence of online selling removed physical barriers like geography. From the comfort of home, you can now shop for some of the lowest prices on the planet — and this benefit isn't just limited to services. Thanks to affordable delivery, you can order products on the cheap from around the globe.
2. Anyone Can Become an Entrepreneur
In the pre-Internet days, starting a new business was expensive. You had to invest money in equipment, rent and utilities — these upfront costs created serious barriers to entry.
However, with the advent of online shopping, anyone can launch a business. What’s more, they can work entirely from home using tools they already have, like laptops and a Wi-Fi connection.
This is obviously true for information products and services. Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook from his dorm room. Though this reduced barrier also applies to the physical world, thanks to just-in-time delivery and streamlined order fulfillment.
Even marketing became cheaper. Instead of sending flyers or buying radio time, small businesses can connect with millions using free tools like social media, email marketing and SEO.
4. Selling Became More Customer Focused
As costs fell and competition increased, it became harder to compete on price alone. This forced many companies to focus on other ways to make their customers happy — like offering faster delivery or providing better support.
This spurred the development of newer tools that could help businesses better understand their customers’ expectations. Forget about surveys. Advanced eCommerce platfoms and detailed analytics allow you to see what users want, how they behave and why they convert.
Accompanying this trend were user-side tools that allow customers to hold businesses more accountable. Review sites like Yelp and Angie’s List make providing quality support more important than ever.
5. Unprecedented Innovation
The Internet was built by innovators — for innovators. Over the past 20 years, we've seen a range of emerging technologies, including:
- New programming languages (e.g. Java, Ajax and HTML5).
- More payment forms (e.g. PayPal, Bitcoin and e-checks).
- Stronger security protocols (e.g. CVV, tokenization and fraud filters).
This pace of innovation will only accelerate as more competitors come online to meet the growing demands of an increasingly Internet-hungry customer base.
What Does the Future Hold for Online Selling?
The world of e-commerce is dynamic, and most of the above trends were non-existent 20 years ago. Now, they have become accepted best practices for millions of successful online merchants.
No one can predict the future, but if you need help bringing your own e-Commerce store up to the latest standards, contact our payment expert’s team today for a free consultation.