Nowadays we happen to see birth of online shopping sites just as mushrooms spring up. Have you ever thought about the first online shopping site? Have you ever thought about that particular person who imagined about creating web platforms for online selling and purchasing? This article invites you to have a voyage back to the interesting history of online selling sites.
1979 – It all began when Michael Aldrich, an English inventor, innovator and entrepreneur started something called online shopping. It was the commencement of the history of online business transactions. Using videotex, a two-way message service, he was launching something which brought radical changes in the field of business, though he mightn't have imagined so. We call it now as e-commerce, online shopping, and e-business. Michael Aldrich connected a domestic television by telephone line to a real-time transaction processing computer and started the first form of this online business. He called it teleshopping.
1981 –Thomson Holidays, a company launched in UK in 1965, added another feather into the history of online business. Thomson Corporation of Canada attained, Skytours, Riviera, Luxitours and Gaytours, four major tour operators together with the airline Britannia Airways, and termed the combined business Thomson Travel. They picked up 66 travel agents from UK and connected them through online. It is regarded the first form B2B (Business to Business) online shopping. These agents were able to collect data online and realize what was available from the Thomson Brochure so as to serve customers immediately.
1982 – Mintel, a private market research firm, launched a videotex online service available through telephone lines, offering online purchases, train reservations, check stock prices, chat and search a telephone directory. It is regarded the most successful online service before the emergence of WWW.
1984 – Mrs Jane Snowball, a 72-year-old lady became the first online shopper. She was sitting down in an armchair and watching TV in her home in England. She just saw some groceries listed on the screen of the television in her room. It was that online-shopping system which we mentioned earlier i.e. Videotex, invented by entrepreneur Michael Aldrich. The items were posted on T.V. by local Tesco store via a domestic phone line.It is to be noted that there were no product images, no feedback, no reviews etc. But what attracted Mrs. Snowball was a never-heard tag line “buy-anything-you-want-without-leaving-your-chair experience”. Deliberately or unintentionally, she offered something with the TV remote in her hands. She understood how it would work by 15 minutes. She just pressed with her fingers the numbers 0-9 on the remote to navigate the menu on the television screen. She went through different types of groceries to verify the items she was in need of. Mrs. Snowball finally ordered these three items: Cornflakes, eggs, and margarine. The first online shopping, thus, was completed when the delivery man came, handed over the item to Mrs. Snowball, and she handed over the money to the delivery man.
1987 – Another major event in the history of online selling and purchasing was that SWREG was launched in 1987. This provided opportunity for businesses to sell products online. Now, SWREG offers various payment options. It also facilitates customisation of different features that users can buy items from international websites by selecting their own currencies.
1990 – This is landmark year in the history of e-commerce and online business. Tim Berners-Lee who had invented World Wide Web (WWW) in 1989, created the first WWW server and browser in 1990. It really brought revolutionary changes and progress in the online business world.
1991 – The internet was commercialised, and world saw births of e-commerce in its real sense. People around the world started creating various types of web portals.
1994 – Netscape introduced the first commercial browser. It remained the dominant browser in terms of number of visitors until it was defeated by Microsoft’s ‘internet explorer in the first browser war. Later more browser wars occurred and internet explorer was side-lined by browsers such as Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari, and Opera. Though Microsoft launched ‘Edge’, a cross-platform web browser developed by Microsoft in 2015, it hasn’t yet recaptured the dominance, as most of the people prefer Google Chrome as default browser. Edge is now forth in the list which is used by only 6.32% of internet users while Google Chrome is used by a huge 69.87% internet users all over the world. These modern browsers made lots of progress in the field of e-commerce.
1995 – Another landmark year in the history of online selling and e-commerce. Amazon, the biggest and largest e-commerce firm in the world, started selling books online. Now, Amazon sells almost all the items belonging to different categories.
1997 – Comparison sites which compare the prices of items in different online selling platforms were started to be built. This facilitates customers to select from the site which sell items for cheaper prizes.
1998 – Paypal was founded in 1998. This enabled transactions of money without sharing financial information and gave customers the flexibility to pay using their PayPal account balances, bank accounts, PayPal Credit and other credit cards. Today, people can now pay across their favorite apps in a single touch (one touch) on any platform, eliminating the need for usernames and passwords each time you pay.
1999 – ‘Zappos’ the first online-only shop was launched. Later it was bought by Amazon for $1.2 Billion.
2001 – Mobile services were introduced by Amazon. It was the first step in the case of purchasing on the go
2005 – Another significant year in the history of online business. Social commerce started, as Consumers started recommending items to friends via social media platforms such as
E-commerce in India
The idea of e-commerce first reached India in 1991. It was a time when there was no practical use of internet in India. At international level, too, there were not many who could even imagine the concept of e-commerce as a daily routine even in a distant future. However, during the latter half of ’90s, people started getting knowledge on the thing called the internet. At the same time, it was a luxury for a majority of them. We cannot help admitting that it was only in 2002, that the majority of people started seeing the internet as something useful, the IRCTC launched the online reservation system. India's first e-commerce company was Fabmart.Com which was launched in 1999 by K Vaitheeswaran. This company later acquired by Aditya Birla Group. Vaitheeswaran later founded another online platform under the title, Indiaplaza.Com. But he was forced to shut it down in 2013 as he was not able to compete with Filpkart and Snapdeal, the present Indian giants in e-commerce.
The landmark year in the history of e-commerce in India is 2007. It was in that year that Flipkart was founded by Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal . You may think that they are relatives seeing the same last name. But they are not, though both of them belong to Chandigarh. They were the students in the same batch of IIT-Delhi. They got an opportunity to work at Amazon where they became friends. They returned home together and started Flipkart in Bangalore as an online book selling company. Now it is the largest e-commerce company by Indian citizens, though the largest e-commerce company in India is now, Amazone.in an Indian version Amazon.com, the world’s biggest e-commerce company that is owned by Jeff Bezos the richest man at present in the world, who belongs to American.
Snapdeal, another Indian giant in e-commerce, was founded on 4th February 2010 as a flash deals platform. The founders of this Indian e-commerce company were Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal who had been close friends during their school days. However, they could expand it into an online marketplace. Gradually they could become one of the largest online marketplaces in India.
Assistant Professor of Education, Keyi sahib Training College
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