Chapter 1 The Changing Face of Retail

The Internet completely transformed the retail industry and the way we think about shopping. Retail changed from walking through a store to a click of a button while sitting on your couch in your yoga pants. The growth of mobile and technology has also revolutionized the industry.

The first online retail site was created in 1979. Michael Aldrich connected a television to a computer that processed transactions in real time using a telephone. He called it Videotex. This was even before the World Wide Web. Tim Berners-Lee created the first World Wide Web server in 1990. The first retail site was a book retailer, www.books.com. In 1994, a secure port was developed for online transactions. This meant that customers were able to purchase items online through a relatively safe process, avoiding fraud and identity theft. It was by no means 100% secure, but it was better than previous attempts. Still, people were somewhat skeptical about making purchases online.

Amazon and eBay quickly followed in 1995. I remember surfing for designer items on eBay in my younger years. I had somewhat of an obsession with Nancy Kerrigan during my childhood. My first eBay/online purchase was a Nancy Kerrigan refrigerator magnet. When it arrived, I discovered that it was literally a cut-out of Nancy Kerrigan from a magazine article, laminated, with a magnet glued to the back.

That was the risk you faced during eBay’s early years of bidding on items. Then eBay transformed ...

Get Style and Statistics now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.