There was a time when travelers had to actually make a phone call to airlines to purchase a plane ticket. Or music fans had to wait in line at the box office to see their favorite band. The concept of online shopping was born in the early ‘90s when CompuServe released its home shopping service, the Electronic Mall, which comprised 110 online stores for users. Back then, e-commerce was just an experiment. But enough waxing nostalgic: the World Wide Web has evolved into the Internet, the Internet has survived the dotcom bubble burst, and now online shopping is wildly convenient. Why? The movers and shakers have introduced a host of game changers that make online buying and selling an absolute delight. In the past month alone, Amazon has stated plans to ship goods before customers actually buy them and new technology Voice Pay “uses biometric voice analysis to authenticate users,” meaning you can now sing your orders from anywhere you please.
With such a vividly bright future ahead of us, 2Checkout looks back to share five crazy clever innovations and ideations from the last decade that prove e-commerce isn’t going anywhere but up.
It’s 2000. After becoming a go-to destination for books and flirting with vending democracy via zShops, a fixed-price digital boutique 2.0, Amazon unleashed its Marketplace. An evolution of the eBay formula without the haggling, Marketplace wasn’t a genius concept because of what it did, but for the scale it embraced and the options it presented. If Amazon proper doesn’t have an out-of-stock antique movie poster or any other obscure good, a new democracy of basement merchants fills in the cracks easily, creating a cornucopia that could virtually offer anything for a price. Amazon Marketplace may have taken the fun out of vinyl hunting and ma-and-pa treasure coves, but its convenience and easy integration aren’t to be trifled with.
It’s 2009. An anonymous computer math genius hides 21 million Bitcoins in cyberspace. Pretty soon, a select group of individuals builds computers to solve ridiculously complex math problems to uncover this invisible, un-insurable Internet currency, or crypto-currency. Today, one Bitcoin is worth, give or take the current exchange rate, between $800-$900. Or don’t even bother converting, because Overstock.com is happily accepting Bitcoins these days.
It’s 2010. OK OK, this may technically file under omnichannel, but it’s still a big deal. Mobile commerce is an obvious wow. Who knew the world would be buying things direct from a phone, or ahem, a smartphone? Never mind that, Jack Dorsey, the co-founder of Twitter, took mobile transactions a step further with a nifty little iPhone accessory called Square. Now small businesses owners, entrepreneurs, and anyone selling anything can sell from their iPhone (or iPad) with the swipe of a credit card. Today, Squares are seen anywhere from book parties to the local winery’s booth at the farmers market. Point-of-sale innovation continues on today with products such as Groupon’s Breadcrumb. And speaking of Groupon…
The Gap Groupon
It’s 2010. Groupon partners up with Gap, giving the international discount giant its first national deal. Prior to The Gap Groupon ($50 worth of apparel and accessories for $25), the company had only been dealing on a small scale with local companies. Gap and Groupon sold 441,000 Groupons in one day — $11 million. The following year, Google tried to buy Groupon for a hefty $6 billion. But Groupon said no thanks, and has since partnered with thousands of merchants, from pet stores to yoga studios to flight schools to ice cream shops, to offer daily deals. Though its future remains murky, the potential for one of the quickest-growing-businesses in all history is anything but.
Delivery Robots (No…Really)
It’s 2014. Did someone say Amazon was going to use drones to deliver? eBay and Amazon ruled e-commerce in the ‘90s. They are still going strong today, and remain the early adaptors at the innovation table. This past year, both companies struggled over the Christmas season with sluggish delivery service from the overwhelmed UPS and FedEx carriers. eBay will now rely more on Shutl, its partner courier service, which connects the company to same-day local carriers. Meanwhile Amazon plans to put its stock in the care of flying robots. It’s called Prime Air, and it’s for real.