Life is to short to shop offline, web shop lovers will say, while others will frown at the prospect of buying a product they did not see, touch or try out. This just goes to show how slow we are at changing our little ways and habits.
Even though a pretty big chunk of population tends to look at e-commerce, or online shopping as a crazy new trend, this way of shopping is far from it – it’s been around for decades. Around three and a half decades, to be precise – it was “invented” by an English entrepreneur Michael Aldrich in 1979, who connected a modified TV to a real-time transaction processing computer via a telephone line. It was certainly a strange system, the so-called videotex, but he believed it was a ‘new, universally applicable, participative communication medium — the first since the invention of the telephone.’
The Idea Of Social And Interactive Shopping
He wanted to make this new medium ‘participative’ and interactive, something akin to the social media we have today – but a bit ahead of his time. Nonetheless, he started Redifon’s Office Revolution, a system allowing consumers, customers, agents, and vendors to make business transactions electronically, and in real-time.
He designed, and sold many online shopping systems, using his videotex technology, in the time before widespread personal computer and mass Internet access. It wasn’t until 1994 and online banking that the idea of shopping online picked up again. In the nineties, the first “web shops” as we know them opened up. Our friendly shopping giant Amazon.com launched in 1995, and so did eBay, and they grew to be some of the biggest retailers in the world.
Nowadays, e-commerce is a $364.66 billion dollar market in the US, $433 billion in Asia-Pacific and it is estimated that the European market has reached 425.5 billion euro in 2014.
Social Era – Social Web Shops
Most online shopping sites today stretch their services across the oceans and borders, making the World their market. But this is not reserved only for the online retail giants. We’re witnessing the rise of smaller sites or personal blogs, which can now enter the world of e-commerce without feeling dwarfed by the giant shopping sites.
There are different services that make it possible to simply integrate web shops into blogs, and one of the biggest ones is Zoolook.Me, a designer fashion web shop that can be integrated into your own site, like a sort of subsidiary.
This feature is intended for Fashion Bloggers, Stylists or Influencers, who can integrate the web shop into their personal blogs. Basically, the bloggers have more than 4000 designers to choose from and get a commissions from the sales.
But it’s more than a passive web shop – I guess you could call it “social” for a lack of a better term for an online store driven by people and social connections, where it’s users curate the content, finding the best deals, combining the best outfits and creating different styles.
Is “social” the next step in the evolution of online shopping? If so, it seems that Michael Aldrich, who imagined interactive and social connected shopping, was a true visionary and that we have made a full circle from videotex to e-commerce.