Amazon Basics

Introduction to eCommerce

Lesson 2 Chapter 1 Module 1

Have you ever purchased something online? Think about it for a bit...

Maybe you bought a cool kitchen gadget from If you're more in to outdoor technology you might have bought a drone from Maybe you buy clothes from And, of course, many people spend time buying stuff from

Even if you've never heard of the websites mentioned above, I'm pretty sure you've:

  • either shopped for second-hand goods on places like Gumtree, Junkmail, OLX or Facebook; or 
  • listed old stuff you didn't want anymore for sale on the same platforms (mentioned above).

If you have ever bought or sold something using the internet you have, in fact, engaged in eCommerce (or electronic commerce)​​.


Although the internet was officially opened for public use in 1991, "online shopping" was invented in 1979 by an innovator named Michael Aldrich.

He connected a modified domestic television via a telephone line to a real-time multi-user transaction processing computer. The system was marketed early in 1980 and offered mainly business-to-business systems that were sold in the UK, Ireland, and Spain. 

One of the earliest consumer shopping experiences was Book Stacks Unlimited, an online bookstore created by Charles M. Stack in 1992. Stack’s store began as a dial-up bulletin board two years before Amazon was founded by Jeff Bezos. In 1994, Book Stacks Unlimited moved to the Internet as and was eventually acquired by Barnes & Noble.

The first online shopping transaction on the internet was recorded in 1994 between two friends. The sale was a Sting CD. 

The New York Times reported on 12/08/1994:

Attention Shoppers: Internet Is Open

At noon yesterday, Phil Brandenberger of Philadelphia went shopping for a compact audio disk, paid for it with his credit card and made history.

Moments later, the champagne corks were popping in a small two-story frame house in Nashua, N.H. There, a team of young cyberspace entrepreneurs celebrated what was apparently the first retail transaction on the Internet using a readily available version of powerful data encryption software designed to guarantee privacy.

Instead of a lengthy discussion about how eCommerce evolved and became the giant it is today, here's an infographic for you. It highlights the major milestones in eCommerce history:


There is one thing I want you to realise from this lesson.

eCommerce, since its beginning, has been marked by a single factor: growth, growth, growth.

Many people who consider eCommerce for the first time get overwhelmed. They see too many options, too many opinions and too many numbers.

Then most of them shrug their shoulders and say, "Oh well, it's oversaturated."

They (literally) walk away from the best opportunity anyone can grab to secure a better life.

Dear student, oversaturated markets stagnate and (eventually) die. They do not grow.

Study the infographic again. See the growth. Embrace the growth. Using that growth to your own benefit is well within your reach and (now more than ever before) achievable.

Are you ready to grow, grow, grow with eCommerce? 

See you in the next lesson.