What is Ecommerce?

It seems like a growing number of business blogs have been talking about ecommerce, but what is ecommerce? Ecommerce, also known as electronic commerce, is a business model which involves transactions taking place on the internet. Stores that sell their products online are called ecommerce stores. For example, Amazon.com is one of the most popular stores in the ecommerce industry. Learn the history of ecommerce, ecommerce statistics, platforms, popular ecommerce sites, and more.

History of Ecommerce

The foundation for ecommerce was created in 1979 by Michael Aldrich. He connected his television to a computer using his telephone line. While it was unlike ecommerce as we know it today, his idea sparked the idea for shopping without having to go to a physical store. At the time, most people didn’t own computers. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs popularized computers for the average person. Bill Gates even said that his goal was to put “a computer on every desk and in every home.” Without computers, ecommerce would be remarkably different.

In 1994, Jeff Bezos founded Amazon as an online store selling over one million different books at launch. Amazon would eventually go on to become the most popular online store for consumers to buy all types of products.

By the mid-1990s and early 2000’s, people were adding computers to their home and paving the way for the growth of ecommerce. Companies were accepting cheques in the early to mid-1990s as there wasn’t an online payment gateway to transfer funds from customers to businesses. When PayPal was founded in December 1998, it simplified the shopping experience for customers as credit cards were easily accepted.

By 2008, ecommerce sales made up 3.4% of all sales which shows industry growth. In 2014, it was estimated that there was around 12-24 million online stores worldwide.

Ecommerce Platforms

An ecommerce platform is a software solution that allows businesses to create online stores. The four most popular ecommerce platforms are Shopify, WooCommerce, BigCommerce and Magento.

Shopify was founded in 2004 by Tobias Lutke, Daniel Weinand and Scott Lake. In 2016, Shopify had 377,500 merchants using their platform who made a total of $15.4 billion in gross revenue. Their platform allows store owners to install apps and it is considered the best ecommerce platform with a 10/10 rating.

WooCommerce is an ecommerce platform made for WordPress stores. It was officially launched on September 27, 2011 by creators Mike Jolley and James Koster. Their official website claims that it ‘powers over 28% of all online stores.’ WooCommerce is currently being used by over 380,000 online store owners.

In 2009, BigCommerce was founded by programmers Eddie Machaalani and Mitchell Harper who happened to meet in a chat room. BigCommerce users have generated $9 billion in sales. There are currently over 95,000 stores using the BigCommerce platform.

Magento is an open-source platform created by Varien, Inc. It was founded March 31, 2008. It is currently known as the most flexible eCommerce platform. Being literally a masterpiece of software craftsmanship, it offers nearly unlimited possibilities for tech-savvy store owners.

Future of Ecommerce

Ecommerce is largely about execution. If you get the math right, the rest should follow, given enough traffic and time for your site to establish. But for anyone involved in the ecommerce game, it is an environment that is constantly changing and upgrading as technologies improve and companies battle against each other to win a greater share of the pie.

The future of ecommerce is uncertain, but some things remain constant – delivery times will improve, customer service will get increasingly better, and product selection will become ever greater. What will you be implementing in your own business over time to stay ahead of the curve?

For more information, learn about Websites on WordPressEcommerce Best Practices, Mobile Website Optimization, or find out if it’s Time to Update your Website.

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