eCommerce History and its Evolution – The Timeline

eCommerce History, Evolution - Timeline

eCommerce is a form of doing business that is performed online or over the internet. In simple terms, when you buy or sell something online or via an electronic medium, it is referred as electronic commerce, popularly known as eCommerce. Because of its vast reach and popularity, it has completely changed the way business is done and has been adopted by everyone from small businesses to the big giants. But, have you ever thought about how eCommerce got started and evolved over the years?

Here is the timeline of the history of eCommerce and its evolution:

1969: CompuServe, the first major eCommerce company is established by Dr. John R. Goltz and Jeffrey Wilkins by utilizing a dial-up connection. This is the first time eCommerce was introduced.

1979: Electronic shopping was invented by Michael Aldrich (he is also considered as founder or inventor of eCommerce). This was done by connecting a transaction-processing computer with a modified TV through a telephone connection. This was done for the purpose of transmission of secure data.

1982: The continued growth of technology, particularly in electronics led to the launch of the first eCommerce platforms by Boston Computer Exchange.

1992: The 90s took the online business to the next level by introducing Book Stacks Unlimited as an online bookstore by Charles M. Stack. It was one of the first online shopping site created at that time.

1994: Web browser tool introduced by Netscape Navigator by Marc Andreessen and Jim Clark. It was used on the Windows platform.

1995: The year marked the iconic development in the history of eCommerce as Amazon and eBay were launched. Amazon was launched by Jeff Bezos, while Pierre Omidyar launched eBay.

1998: The first eCommerce payment system was launched by PayPal as a tool to make money transfers.

1999: Alibaba launched its online shopping platform in 1999 with more than $25 million as capital. Gradually it turned out to be an eCommerce giant.

2000: The first online advertising tool named Google AdWords was launched by Google as a way to help retailers to utilize the pay-per-click (PPC) context.

2005 to 2009

The four years saw the development of eCommerce in the following ways:

  • Amazon Prime membership was launched by Amazon to help customers get free two-day shipping at an annual fee.
  • Etsy was launched in 2005 to enable small and medium scale retailers to sell goods online. In 2009, Jack Dorsey and Jim McKelvey launched
  • Square as an app-based service.
  • BigCommerce was launched by Eddie Machaalani and Mitchell Harper as an online storefront platform.


2011 to 2015

The years experienced huge development in the sphere of eCommerce, such as:

  • Google Wallet was launched in 2011 as the first digital payment option that allowed transactions to take place online.
  • Facebook came up with retailer sponsored stories, which can be considered to be the earliest forms of online advertising.
  • Stripe was launched as a payment processing company by Patrick and John Collison.
  • Apple Pay introduced in the year 2014 as a form of mobile payment for online transactions.
  • was launched in 2014 as an online shopping portal.


2017 to present

What does the eCommerce hold for us?

eCommerce business offers a potential competitive advantage to retailers and customers. Instagram Shopping was launched in 2017 as a global eCommerce platform. The growth of eCommerce also scaled a new high with record sales of $6.5 billion on Cyber Monday.

The present condition of eCommerce looks extremely positive as more and more people going online with their eCommerce stores and it is expected to be at its zenith in the coming years.


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