Since the dawn of the Internet and the proliferation of the personal home computer, commerce in general has changed dramatically, from marketing and advertising, to B2B and B2C supply chains. Through the coalescence of ubiquitous online access and commerce, the world has witnessed the emergence of one of the most profitable and interconnected means of commercial transacting—e-commerce. There has been a plethora of thought pioneers who have helped to catapult e-commerce into the future and into a billion dollar industry. Through their part in changing the face of e-commerce, these businesses have also changed the world. The following three companies are noted for exemplifying and epitomizing the rise of e-commerce, and how it has changed our lives.
Founded in July, 1994, Amazon.com Inc. is now the world’s largest internet-based retailer by total sales and market capitalization. Since their start in 1998 as an online bookseller, Amazon has grown to offer nearly 130 million products in over 30 product categories.
Amazon has reached their supremacy through innovations such as:
- Amazon 1-Click—drastically reducing the time in which it takes a consumer to look for, decide, and purchase what they want.
- Recommendations—algorithms that identify customer buying habits and suggest similar products.
- Reviews—providing potential buyers with information about both products and vendors.
It is these types of innovations in e-commerce, those which focus on enhancing the consumer’s experience that have driven Amazon to the top of the heap in its industry, and changed the way we buy.
Like Amazon, eBay Inc. was one of the first to really carve out an e-commerce brand and, since its founding in 1995 has grown into an online giant that in 2013 enabled $205 billion in e-commerce volume. From the start, eBay has completely defined its own business path, and along the way created and defined the innovations it would need to see this path through. When eBay introduced Paypal in 2002, it not only revolutionized its own business, but also changed the face of e-commerce—providing businesses and consumers with the means to securely, easily, and quickly send and receive digital payments the world over.
A huge player that has recently gained an extraordinary amount of notoriety and attention in the e-commerce industry, Alibaba, is another innovator that has changed the world. In the years before e-commerce took off in China, there were a litany of problems holding back the launch of what has become one of the world’s greatest online consumer economies. For one, in 2004, the amount of Chinese people who owned a credit card was barely 1%. Without this quintessential piece in the B2C online supply chain, there was no real way for e-commerce to take off—it simply did not exist. With China’s lack of a payment system presenting such a monumental obstacle in the way of Alibaba’s business model, CEO Jack Ma thought, “Why not make one myself?” And, in what was his most genius e-commerce related innovation, Ma set his team to opening bank accounts in branches of every single bank in every city. In doing so he invented an online payment system that would enable buyers to purchase goods online, worry free. Now, Alibaba dominates online shopping in China, and through its various channels accounts for more than 80% of the country’s e-commerce industry.