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20 today!

It’s 20 years to the day, since NetMarket claimed they conducted the very first secure retail transaction via the internet - the sale of the Album “Ten Summer’s Tales” by Sting. It’s contentious whether this really was the first secure transaction via the web, but it’s the event which the media remembers as ‘the one’.. This set the stage for the development of ecommerce and online shopping to the level we know today. The rest is history!

Here’s a brief timeline of the major shifts and developments in ecommerce in the past 20 years:


The stage was set with the development of the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), by Netscape, which allowed for the secure communication of data over the internet. This opened the door to the flow of encrypted data between two parties and therefore the secure exchange of payment data.


Enter two of the biggest players in the ecommerce market today - Amazon and eBay. They proved that if you spot a gap in the market early, you have an amazing chance of success.

Amazon was founded by Jeff Bezos in 1994 under the name of, but by the year of launch in 1995 it’s called and goes live as a bookstore. Today the company employs 132,600 people and has an annual revenue of $76bn.

eBay was founded September 3, 1995, by Pierre Omidyar, as AuctionWeb. The first item sold on Auction Web was a broken Laser Pointer and once it was sold, Pierre instantly recognised the huge potential that the site had. It soon became Pierre’s main project as, short for Echo Bay.


Confinity were the original creators of PayPal, founded in December 1998. It was acquired by the financial services company, owned by Elon Musk in March 2000. Musk saw huge potential for PayPal and it soon became the only product they focused upon. It became more and more popular from 2001 onwards, mainly due to its use on eBay. PayPal was bought by eBay for $1.5bn in 2002 and has continued to dominate online payments, due to its wallet based solution which avoids shoppers having to enter credit card details at the checkout on most popular websites.


In 2002, Google started what is today known as Google Shopping. Back then it was called Froogle, a price comparison search which used Google’s web crawler to gather products and display them in relevant search results in it’s ‘Shopping’ tab. It changed the way shopping was done online as it offered a good place for smaller retailers to advertise their goods to a huge audience, for free. Those days are gone now though, after a couple of re-brands ‘Google Shopping’ is now based on a pay per click model, but the audience of shoppers using it now is bigger than ever.

The same year also saw the creation of ekmPowershop, the first cloud based ecommerce platform in the UK. It made it possible for small business with little or no experience of websites or IT, to start their own online shop without high costs, contracts or hassle. The development of cloud based technology meant that businesses didn’t need to buy any webspace to host their website on, which was a massive money saver at a time where it wasn’t necessarily cheap to rent servers.


Web 2.0 as a term was first used in January 1999, but it didn’t reach general acceptance as a term until the year 2005. The name suggests a second version of the world wide web, but essentially only means that the Web became less static and sites became more interactive. Essentially it changed the average internet user from a ‘downloader’ to an ‘uploader’, with social networks benefiting hugely from the technology.

The year also saw the launch of YouTube, now the world’s second largest search engine after Google. The potential of youtube as a marketing tool has become more evident over the past few years and ecommerce is no exception, with product videos forming prominent parts in YouTube’s listings on any given day.


In 2007, the cornerstones of a revolution are set. A revolution that will change the way we live our lives for years/decades to come. It’s the release of the iPhone and other Smartphones. Smartphones have given ecommerce a further aspect, namely mCommerce. We were given a tool that has given us the option to be online at any time and in any place. The addition of apps to phones means that we are able to purchase items via these or the mobile web, and we even pay to be able to use certain apps. It meant pages had to be redesigned to be viewed by mobile technology and a market specific to mobile smart devices was created.


ekmPowershop becomes the largest ecommerce platform in the UK, powering 1 in every 5 online shops - from one man bands to blue chip giants.


Social commerce as a term was first reference by Yahoo! in 2005 when it was used to describe certain online shopping tools that would let you rate and share online product information. It really took off however via Facebook and Twitter, who would give businesses the platform to sell and market their products for free to a huge audience who were hungry for information and goods.

Today it has many faces and branches, from being able to sell on Facebook, to group buying sites such as Groupon and Wowcher.

Social has continued to grow and is now one of the most important factors when selling goods online, due to user generated confidence signals such as recommendations or ‘thumbs ups’ which are then shared - making it the marketing tool of choice for many businesses.


The first cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, was started in 2009 by developer Satoshi Nakamoto. It’s an alternative ‘peerless’ currency which is not controlled by any state or governing body.

Until recently it was seen as more of an underground currency, used mostly for the purchasing of PC hardware and other ‘murkier’ wares. However, the value of various Cryptocurrencies have recently exploded, giving them increased popularity and leading to them being accepted on the first major ecommerce sites in 2013.


Mobile commerce continues to rise in 2014, with spends via smart devices in the US expected to reach $114bn. As tablets and smartphones increasingly become the weapon of choice for online shoppers, more transactions and more money will be spent by more people on the move. The present and the future is mobile!

Speaking of the future - it’s always hard to predict 20 years ahead, but what we do know is there will be a blend of the experiences built by the architects of the past 20 years. eBay, Amazon, PayPal and Google will continue being strong and innovating, with new startups trying to work their way onto their turf almost daily with more great innovations.

What next twenty years will bring, nobody knows for sure - but it’s certainly going to be influenced by the continuing rise of mobile, social media and more convenient ways to pay.

This press release was distributed by ResponseSource Press Release Wire on behalf of in the following categories: Consumer Technology, Business & Finance, Computing & Telecoms, for more information visit