Development of Electronic Commerce
Historical Development of Electronic Commerce
The meaning of the term "electronic commerce" has changed
over time. Originally, "electronic commerce" meant the
facilitation of commercial transactions electronically, usually
using technology like Electronic Data Interchange (EDI, introduced
in the late 1970s) to send commercial documents like purchase orders
or invoices electronically.
Later it came to include activities more precisely termed "Web
commerce" -- the purchase of goods and services over the World
Wide Web via secure servers (note HTTPS, a special server protocol
which encrypts confidential ordering data for customer protection)
with e-shopping carts and with electronic pay services, like credit
card payment authorizations.
When the Web first became well-known among the general public in
1994, many journalists and pundits forecast that e-commerce would
soon become a major economic sector.
However, it took about four years for security protocols (like
HTTPS) to become sufficiently developed and widely deployed (during
the browser wars of this period). Subsequently, between 1998 and
2000, a substantial number of businesses in the United States and
Western Europe developed rudimentary Web sites.
Although a large number of "pure e-commerce" companies
disappeared during the dot-com collapse in 2000 and 2001, many "brick-and-mortar"
retailers recognized that such companies had identified valuable
niche markets and began to add e-commerce capabilities to their
For example, after the collapse of online grocer Webvan, two traditional
supermarket chains, Albertsons and Safeway, both started e-commerce
subsidiaries through which consumers could order groceries online.
As of 2005, e-commerce has become well-established in major cities
across much of North America, Western Europe, and certain East Asian
countries like South Korea. However, e-commerce is still emerging
slowly in some industrialized countries, and is practically nonexistent
in many Third World countries.
Electronic commerce has unlimited potential for both developed
and developing nations, offering lucrative profits in a highly unregulated
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