The History and Future of Online Sales

The history of online sales is dotted and crossed with success after success. According to Statista, online sales accounted for 4.2% of all retail sales in the U.S. in the first quarter of 2010. By the second quarter of 2020, the percentage skyrocketed to an impressive 15.7%. RedStagFulfillment breaks these percentages down to $572 billion and 4.2 trillion, respectively. 

Based on this striking record, online sales courses make a bold prediction. The future of business is likely to be dominated by eCommerce. 

This article will take a quick dip into the past, survey the present and train its eye on the future of online sales. 

E-Commerce Yesterday 


In 1969, Jeffrey Wilkins was a recent graduate of the University of Arizona. If anything, he was a typical 21-year-old trying to find his footing in the world of business working for his father-in-law’s insurance company in Columbus, Ohio. 

At the insurance company, one thing bothered Jeffrey. Customers were making long trips to the company office and jamming the lobby. The situation was frustrating for both customers and the employees of the company. 

So, Jeffrey decided to solve this problem in a new and innovative way. He connected the customers to a computer via the existing telephone cable network. Bingo! 

This saw the birth of CompuServe, the first online sales platform. Customers across 700 cities could use the network to complete their electronic transactions. 


Ten years later, and across the ocean in gloomy England, Michael Aldrich had a lightbulb moment during a brainstorming session with his wife. Their problem? The taxing chore that was their weekly shopping trips. If only they could skip the supermarket queue and order their groceries online. Wouldn’t life be so much simpler? 

So, Michael hooked the family TV set to a PC and telecommunication equipment. He named the resulting fusion a “teleputer.” This invention is widely considered the second online sales turning point. His “teleshopping” assembly ushered in a new dawn for B2B and B2C sales. 

eCommerce Marketplaces 

However, the single online transaction that delivered the big break was to come 15 years later. Dan Kohn, an American internet technologist, created NetMarket, an online marketplace. He incorporated a secure socket layer (SSL) data encryption genius. 

In 1994, Dan put the platform to the test. He sold the Ten Summoners’ Tales album by the rock musician Sting to Phil Brandenberger, a friend from a different state. Phil used his credit card to pay $12.48 plus shipping and received the CD the following day via FedEx. This transaction will probably go down in history as online sales’ watershed moment. 

Ecommerce Today  

Since 1995, marketplaces like Amazon, Etsy, and eBay have marked their leading spot in present-day eCommerce. These giants seem to set the rules of the game.

These seemingly dissimilar eCommerce leaders have one thing in common, the NetMarket’s (SSL) certification. This feature has ensured online payments are secure and boosted the buyers’ trust in a company’s online sales service. Online buyers have since thronged these marketplaces, buying anything from cars to candles and all things in between. 

Besides these sizable marketplaces, the online business landscape is also brimming with independent merchants. These stand-alone players are jostling for the online sales cake too. They are investing time and energy to educate themselves through sales training courses on how they too can take their share of the profits.

Ecommerce Tomorrow 

Top sales courses have predicted some exciting and revolutionary trends for the future of eCommerce

Mobile Commerce Explosion 

Mobile commerce (mCommerce) is likely to increase twofold by 2025, according to a report by eMarketer. It’s expected to beat the desktop computer at its own game. MCommerce will eventually guarantee itself a brighter future. 

Some of mCommerce’s low-hanging fruits include: 

  • SMS 
  • push notifications 
  • mobile content 
  • eCommerce apps 

Social Commerce 

People have jumped on the social media networks train in the last decade. This great migration has turned the platforms into fertile online marketing grounds. As a result, most businesses are on a social commerce investment rampage and taking advantage of training offered by sales courses. Businesses today are ready to fork up the $79.6 billion of the social eCommerce annual sales volume to be reached by 2025, as predicted by Statista.

In the future, these social platforms are likely to hold even more sway. Social media platforms’ versatility can see online sales go through the roof.

Social media platforms are likely to turn the tide to their side when they include features such as: 

  • livestream shopping shows 
  • user-generated content 
  • in-app shopping and instant checkout 

Expect Another First  

The history of eCommerce is chock-full of unique timestamps. Looking at these past milestones with one eye and at the present state with the other can unveil one clear picture. The future of eCommerce is a basket of excitement.

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