sachin mittal
fascinating history of E-commerce

Let me start with a story. About a decade back, when a friend needed to book urgent train tickets after a sudden death in the family, he woke up in the early morning and went to the nearest Indian Railways operated ticket counter for the tickets to be done. The time being just before the impending peak season for travel, he had to wait in line for hours before he could finally book his tickets.

Ten years later, a train ticket is just a few clicks away, thanks to the multiple websites that have simplified the daily time consuming chores. Such is the power of E-commerce!

We started off as a bunch of web infants, trying to figure out the big bad Web, back in the mid 1990s when online purchasing was taking baby steps. The anticipations were great and inhibitions greater, for all good reasons. Internet was mostly an unknown territory to many and as a result, people feared risks of being defrauded by online transactions.

B2B and B2C

Till the late 1990s, Business to Business (B2B) was the biggest source of revenue for E-commerce service providers, as it went on to connect companies with their supply chain. However, E-commerce as we know it wasn’t born until early 2000s. The late 1990s to mid 2000s saw launch of search engine giants like Google and Yahoo, birth of online stores like Ebay and Amazon. Internet was now available and affordable, which made the Business To Consumer (B2C) segment a greater focus.
But greater success came in 2004, with the formation of Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). Protection of online payments was introduced in order to reduce credit card frauds. All major card schemes were covered and the E-commerce industry spearheaded towards expansion. By 2009, as another revolutionary step, Bitcoin was introduced, which meant online transactions could now be directly between the consumers and the E-commerce platform, without any intermediaries involved.

Current times

So that brings us back to the current time, when social networking has reduced cost on advertisements and E-commerce is the biggest threat to brick and mortar businesses. I can sit in my living room on a lazy Sunday morning and transfer money to someone else’s account and all in a matter of seconds. I can create my own start-up company from a garage and build an empire out of it, working on my laptop. But what gives me the most pleasure is being able to do the smallest things for my family like sending flowers, ordering a surprise gift, booking a cab or ordering a pizza. Being able to run a life through a computer was a thought that crossed our minds as a fantasy, just about 20 years back. But with the rise and rise of E-commerce, nothing seems unachievable!

When was the first time you discovered the effect of E-commerce? Leave a comment!