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History of Ecommerce


The history of ecommerce is a history of how Information Technology has transformed business processes.

EDI Some authors will track back the history of ecommerce to the invention of the telephone at the end of last century. EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) is widely viewed as the beginning of ecommerce if we consider ecommerce as the networking of business communities and digitalization of business information.

Large organizations have been investing in development of EDI since sixties. It has not gained reasonable acceptance until eighties. EDI has never reached the level of popularity of the web-based ecommerce for several reasons:

  1. high cost of EDI prohibited small businesses and medium-sized companies from participating in the electronic commerce;
  2. slow development of standards hindered the growth of EDI; and
  3. the complexity of developing EDI applications limited its adaptation to a narrow user base.

The Internet and the Web The Internet was conceived in 1969, when the Advanced Research Projects Agency (a Department of Defense organization) funded research of computer networking. The Internet could end up like EDI without the emergence of the World Wide Web in 1990s. The Web became a popular mainstream medium (perceived as the fourth mainstream medium in addition to print, radio and TV) in a speed which had never been seen before. The Web users and content were almost doubled every a couple of months in 1995 and 1996. The web and telecommunication technology had fueled the stock bubble in the roaring 90s and eventually pushed NASDAQ over 5,000 in 2000 before it crashed down to 1,200 in 2002.

XML and Web Services Besides the availability of technical infrastructures, the popularity of the Web is largely attributed to the low cost of access and simplicity of HTML authoring, which are the obstacles of EDI development. The Internet and the Web have overcome the technical difficulty of EDI, but it has not solved the problem of slow development of ecommerce standards.

XML, as a meta markup language, provides a development tool for defining format of data interchange in a wide variety of business communities. Web Services offers a flexible and effective architecture for the implementation. There is no doubt that XML and the Web Services will shape the course of ecommerce in years to come.

Related Topics
Definition and Concept of Electronic Commerce
Benefits of Ecommerce - digitalization and networking
Future of Ecommerce
Internet Users
Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) - Overview and Standards
Key success factors in e-commerce
E-commerce problems
Ecommerce Product suitability - What Sells Best Online?


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