E-commerce in growth: from the beginnings to today

E-commerce in growth: from the beginnings to today

Online retailing is a success story, no one can deny that. It began at the end of the 20th century and really took off at the turn of the millennium. Today, no one has to buy their furniture, clothes or stationery locally in a store. Modern shopping is digital: with just one click, everything arrives at your doorstep. This also applies to heavy, bulky items that previously posed transport problems for the buyer. In this case, convenience wins the day!

A look at history: This is how e-commerce growth began

The first online purchase by a private individual was made longer ago than most people think: some sources report it was in 1985, but solid evidence can only be found for a first private e-commerce purchase in 1994. At the time, payment was made using encrypted credit card data. The sales platform was called NetMarket, and it has changed hands several times since then, but still exists today. What did the person who can justifiably call himself an online pioneer buy? It was a CD by the English musician Sting, who was enjoying great success at the time.

This is how sales skyrocketed from 2014

In 1994, the first online e-commerce bookstore opened – and it wasn’t Amazon! The name was Books Stacks Unlimited. Another big year followed in 1995, and three giants were born: Ebay, Amazon and Dell. Amazon made a revolutionary leap forward in 2003: the global player developed the first mobile version of its store so early on. In 2008, Apple’s digital iTunes Store opened its doors, also a milestone in the history of e-commerce. By 2014, global sales of all online marketplaces had shot up to 31 billion euros, and by 2018 they had already reached 1,245 billion euros.

Mobile devices become the digital shopping cart

Services and product sales in online retail are becoming increasingly diverse. In 2020, around 2.54 billion people used e-commerce offerings, and by 2025 this figure is expected to rise to 3.69 billion, according to the Digital Market Outlook. The stationary computer is no longer the number one shopping cart; most orders now come from mobile devices. This trend is only natural because the smartphone is now also the number one device in many other respects. There’s nothing more convenient than making purchases spontaneously on the go, with a few taps on the touchpad!

These are the advantages that e-commerce offers its clientele

Evolution always means: the better prevails. This rule also applies to the global market, and here e-commerce has excellent cards in its hand. These are the advantages for customers:

  • Ordering from any location with a click
  • Comparisons can be made quickly and conveniently
  • Countless customer reviews point the way
  • Prompt delivery in most cases
  • Own transports no longer necessary
  • Delivery to the front door
  • Many different convenient payment methods

Logistics and e-commerce: storing goods close to the customer

Successful e-commerce logistics must “deliver” – and deliver quickly. The goods must be permanently available and reach the customer quickly, preferably the day after the order is placed. To achieve this, large online stores rely not only on large-scale central warehouses, but also on many smaller warehouses distributed throughout the country. That’s where the bestsellers are that cross the virtual counter from north to south, from east to west, day after day. Then there are the fleets of vehicles that fan out early in the morning to distribute the goods.

Anything that is not in the direct vicinity of the customer has to be transported via a complex supply chain. Today, these processes are also digitally controlled to ensure that the flow of goods is unhindered. End customers can often even track their delivery on the display and thus know where their order is at any time. E-commerce is therefore also making transport processes like ours, ECL, more transparent than ever.

ECL offers you e-commerce logistics services. We take care of the import of your goods and store them in our warehouse. Depending on your needs, we ship your goods by pallet shipping to e-commerce warehouses like Amazon or by parcel shipping directly to the end consumer.

The heyday of e-commerce: new trends accelerate growth

In the beginning, e-commerce itself was a new trend, but now it has become a daily habit for most people. New services are needed to excite customers and bind them to the provider in question. Through innovation and constant further development, the well-known giants of online business have grown steadily and remained strong to this day. The focus is on the customer’s wishes, and in modern e-commerce these are not just in the direction of speed.

Trendsetting: online stores as experience portals

The Internet continues to evolve, as does e-commerce. Increasingly rapid data transfer is making applications possible that no one would have thought of in the last century. Authentic worlds of experience have been created on the World Wide Web, and the gaming industry in particular has come up with an enormous amount of new ideas to keep its target group enthralled. E-commerce is following suit with sustainable supply chains, among other things, and is making it possible to experience the items on offer live.

Today, it has long been possible to try on glasses online. Virtual tours of hotels, theme parks and real estate, for example, are no longer uncommon. The whole thing works three-dimensionally, of course, so that it almost feels as if you are actually there. This is where the biggest shortcoming has been so far: the products cannot be experienced online, they cannot be touched, they cannot be tried out. You still can’t touch them, but you can turn them around in three dimensions. Maybe one day there will be the possibility to transmit textures digitally, then this shortcoming of e-commerce will also be solved.

Dash button and cross-selling: sales-promoting innovations

Sales-promoting innovations existed in e-commerce before the 3D revolution, however. The Amazon Dash button was one such example: This was a small analog device used to place orders at the touch of a button. Based on the principle: “Almost out of detergent? Just press the button! However, users prefer to use their smartphones for such cases, so this service was discontinued. Instead, there are now savings subscriptions, which ensure that certain items in the household never run out thanks to e-commerce.

Cross-selling has become established on almost all major platforms in e-commerce. Fashion stores, in particular, rely on offering their clientele individualized deals, for example, entire outfits or matching shoes to the dress they have just put in their shopping baskets. Preferences from previous purchases are also usually taken into account: This makes e-commerce more personal and fuels sales. For ongoing success.

ECL Kontor is an international logistics company established in 2004 with roots in customs clearance and transport organisation.


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