E-commerce VOL I; Are We Going Shopping?

E-commerce VOL I; Are We Going Shopping?

E-commerce VOL I; Are We Going Shopping?

E-commerce, so present in society today, it seems like something completely new that someone came up with just a few years ago, but the truth is that even if it's experiencing an increasing growth, its history goes way further back than what you may expect.

Cristina Cueto



Like anything else, everything has a beginning, and that of the e-commerce goes back relatively speaking to the beginning of the 20th Century. Yes, that's right around the 20s and 30s, in the United States, they started doing what was known as mail order. A new format that sold products without showing them phisically, just through images along with a text explaining the features and the price. After the physical format, the phone came into the equation, which became a new tool for sellers as it spread through people's homes, and notice that this also made credit cards popular.

A few years after, in 1960 there was another milestone in e-commerce history, because the Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) was also created, an innovation that allowed to send finance information electronically. A formula that would expand along with the popularization of teleshopping that employed the phone to make purchases.

A whole new revolution

Almost reaching the 90s, with the expansion of the World Wide Web, e-commerce experienced a new and significant change when shopping started taking place through the Internet. People started buying computers and they soon became one of the commodities people would have at home, so online shopping became generally extended.

As the 90s went by, the first online-exclusive shopping portals started appearing, thanks to the creation of the National Science Fundation, that allowed using the Internet for commercial purposes. In 1994, thanks to the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) created by Netscape, more data could be sent and more personal information could be shared safely. That same year Pizza Hut had a game-changer idea in e-commerce history by selling the first pizza online.

People started buying computers and they soon became one of the commodities people would have at home, so online shopping became generally extended.

That decade was filled with so many back-to-back developments, one after the other non-stop. With the Internet working on increasingly more homes and the online shopping portals we talked about before being popularized. Two of these are specially outstanding: eBay y Amazon. Do they ring a bell? Just a few could guess at the time that this two companies would become the industry giants they are today.

From there even faster developments took place and all sectors started getting into e-commerce. A few years later you could get anything you wanted or needed online on the Internet, to such an extent that in 2005 there was a new day to check on our calendars "Cyber Monday" to enjoy sales, but in this case e-commerce sales.


E-commerce platforms

As we have seen, e-commerce has experienced a huge evolution throughout the years. However there's a factor that is absolutely necessary for its development; we're talking here about open source platforms.

Towards the end of 2007, and the beginning of 2008, Prestashop and Magento appeared simultaneously. They are two similar platforms, based on the open source model and in self-hosted mode, which means they can be installed on any server, so that it is easy for anyone to create their own online shop.

They are currently the two more important platforms in the e-commerce sector. 

Global expansion

In 1995, e-commerce barely reached 16 millon users around the world, with a market penetration of 0’4%, a figure that nonetheless grew very fast and in 2019, reached 4.131 millon people and boasted about a world market penetration of 55%.

In 2020 We are Social and HootSuite, presented the Digital 2020 Global Digital Overview, according to which 74% of the Internet users from 16 to 64 years of age bought an online product in the previous month, while 52% did shopping through their cell phones. This percentages make us realize about the integration of this business model.

And what about Spain?

We discussed the creation of Amazon and eBay, but in Spain there's also a business that came in first when we talk about e-commerce and we have the name of course. In 1995, in Benasque, in the Aragon Pyrenees, brothers Barrabés opened their online shop to sell hiking and rock climbing equipment, even though they already had a physical shop. Just a little bit later, of course other big corporations that had had a strong presence in the Spanish market for many years adopted this model such as El corte Inglés or Inditex, but also new businesses were created such as Idealista or El Tenedor, referents in their respective sectors and fully digital.