Although technically E-Commerce began 40 years ago, we can really pinpoint the birth to the launching of Amazon and eBay in 1995. Ordinary people, who for years had to buy their goods by walking into stores or thumbing through catalogs and ordering by phone, could now shop online.

The Past

In the beginning, Amazon only offered books, as literature was in high-demand, becoming the largest “bookstore” in the world. As the company grew, they started selling electronics like cameras, videos, software, and computer hardware. For everything else, eBay allowed people to bid in auctions for a plethora of products ranging from baseball cards to automobiles. Slowly but surely, these E-Commerce pioneers started drawing more and more people out of brick-and-mortar stores and placing them in front of their computers. It seemed that the revolution had begun.

The Present

Fast forward to today and you can see how far we’ve come. No longer limited to books and electronics, Amazon now sells over 200 million products online. Sports equipment, clothing, jewelry, and even household grocery items are just a click away. With premier services, people can now subscribe annually and receive their items with free 2-day shipping. Could you have imagined this being possible 10 years ago? These days it’s completely normal. Anything you want is at your doorstep in two days. Additionally, for items that are to be released on a specific date (like new video games or books), you can pre-order and have that item in your hands on the launch date. Now, the only reason to camp out in front of the store is for the experience!

Pricing has also evolved. With services like Groupon and Livingsocial, significant discounts can be attained by a group of people claiming and locking into a deal. In many cases, the same item online is less expensive than at the physical store, giving people further incentive to shop online. Don’t think that deters your favorite stores, though, as many of them have their own web stores where you can purchase the same items for delivery or pickup. The best part? All of this can be done from your smartphone, meaning that even if you’re out and about, you’re seconds away from shopping for what you need.

And The Future…

So we know what E-Commerce is currently like because we use it every day. Whether we’re downloading apps on our smartphones It buying books on our e-readers. It’s become second nature. The real question is, what’s next? Well, the good news is we’ve already had a glimpse into the crystal ball.

Up until recently, people had to scour the internet for product reviews and articles before knowing what to buy. That meant reading tons of reviews from all over the place just to end up more confused than when you started. With today’s new technology, there are tools like Comparaboo that read and analyze millions of online reviews to help you find the best products. Just another great evolution of E-Commerce to make your shopping experience reach new heights.

Amazon now offers a service called Dash, which utilizes little physical buttons that connect wirelessly to your account. Each button has a logo of a popular home product that you use, like laundry detergent for example. The idea is you would stick this button on your washing machine, and when you see that you’re running low on detergent, you’d push the button and voila! Laundry detergent is ordered and on it’s way to you within a couple days. Voila!

Same-day delivery is also becoming a reality in bigger markets. Companies are renting urban warehouses for the fastest delivery possible, which means that if you really need that blender today, chances are you’ll get it today. In some cases, a notification will appear on your phone letting you know your item is paid for and ready for pickup at a location very close to you. The hassle of browsing and shopping at a store is on its way to becoming second fiddle to online shopping.

While E-Commerce has been around for the better part of 20 years, it seems that only recently it has become the norm. What used to be a limited selection is now the world’s largest catalog of items. Anything you want is accessible to you right from the palm of your hand at anytime. The future might be now, but we still can’t wait to see what else is in store over the next 20 years. The sky’s the limit!