People alive at this article’s date of release are fortunate enough to live with the help of advanced technology. It seems that wireless internet is everywhere, smartphones are highly prevalent, computers help businesses be more efficient, doctors use technology to save lives — the list goes on. While shopping malls like Sears and JC Penney used to be popular, malls and department stores are quickly dying out. In 2017, the number of store closings in the United States nearly doubled, with 3,296 brick-and-mortar stores closed. This isn’t hard to believe after realizing 54% of millennials’ purchases are made online, with other age groups shopping digitally almost half the time at 49%.
Now, let’s uncover exactly why eCommerce is so popular and what factors have influenced its widespread use.
The Birth of the Internet
The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) released the world wide web to mankind in 1991. Scientist Tim Berners-Lee was helping develop a way for scientists and researchers to share information quickly and painlessly, oblivious to the web’s full potential.
Just four years later, eBay, Amazon, and Craigslist were founded, while the unbuilt remainder of the Internet slowly began speeding up. Google’s revolutionary search engine went live in 1998. However, back in these olden days, very few people used the Internet. It wasn’t until 2005 when the first billion Internet users accumulated, rising from less than 350 million in 2000.
The Price of Computers
Twenty years ago, people waited minutes for single pages to load through dial-up connections, making Internet browsing infeasible for most functions, recreational and business uses alike. Computers didn’t process information very quickly, weren’t required for school or work, and — most importantly — weren’t popular. As such, computers, in the early days, were exorbitantly expensive. Unless you were wealthy, buying a computer simply wasn’t worth it.
For example, a Toshiba laptop cost more than $3,000 in 1996. Today, some Toshiba laptops can be purchased for less than $250. Similarly, from 1997 to 2015, the average price of personal computers dropped more than 60%. With cheaper computers came increased eCommerce.
Stores have hundreds upon thousands of products. They’re large and crowded. People prefer shopping online because eCommerce stores don’t hold these disadvantages. Online shoppers can search for exactly what they want, filtering out unwanted listings. Niche stores are only around in large, metropolitan areas. On the Internet, niche stores serve the entire world, not exclusively relying on small local populations for business.