E-commerce: Revolution or Evolution?

You can’t wait for customers to come to you. You have to figure out where they are, go there and drag them back to your store.

-Paul Graham

It has been about two decades since we were introduced to this term- E-commerce and in these two decades, e-commerce has shaped the revolutions in many industries. Electronic ticketing, electronic documentation, online shopping, online banking, instant messaging, digital wallets and pretails (that’s pre-retail marketing) are all products that have been made available to us because of e-commerce. But, this one question had me bamboozled until quite recently, and led me to dive into research on this topic, was the emergence of e-commerce a revolution or just evolution?

Talking simply with reference to online retail, the emergence of e-commerce brought a humongous revolution in the way people used to shop. Amazon and Ebay provided sellers a portal to showcase their products while the buyers now had the advantage to get their hands on the products of their choice right from their homes, without even having to lift a finger. As times changed, and the customers wanted more, certain features, such as product comparison, reviews, product customization, were added to e-commerce websites to make shopping online more lucrative. To grab the people who would check products online but shop at stores offline into the consumer base, e-tail sites started providing discounts. As time progressed, and the consumers still asked for more, another idea surfaced, which led to the development of CashBack websites. While we were faced with a major economic crisis due to the industrial revolution in the early 20th century, when supply failed to create its own demand since many people had lost their jobs to machines, with the e-commerce revolution, industrial demand increased manifold. Production saw a boost. More jobs were created since with the right tools, anyone could run an online store. Generally, people were happier since it saved them from a lot of hassle and the general perception had become that the prices being offered to them were competitive.

Thus, e-commerce revolutionised shopping, but, to call e-commerce a revolution in itself seems a bit odd. In fact, in my opinion (which I share with a number of people), the idea of e-commerce was an evolution brought about by the telecommunication and internet revolution. As internet gained popularity, and everything was moving online, in order to cope up with the changing times, businessmen started looking at various business models. E-commerce was nothing but a business model that the businessmen at the time thought could help in their situation and make their products visible to the masses. In itself, e-commerce is just an idea. When this idea finds its way into various sectors of the economy, be it banking, ticketing, documentation, warehousing, retailing or marketing, then it becomes a business.

But hey, that’s just my opinion!

Devina Chaturvedi
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A Business Economics Student at Delhi University, interested in anything 'hatke'.