The Evolution of eCommerce Technology: Tracing its Roots and Predicting the Future
The world of eCommerce has undergone a massive transformation in recent years, evolving from a niche market to a multi-billion dollar industry. With millions of businesses worldwide relying on online sales, the advancements in eCommerce technology have had a major impact on the industry. In this article, we will explore the evolution of eCommerce and take a look at what the future may hold.
The Early Days of eCommerce
In the early days of eCommerce, businesses had to create their online stores from scratch, a process that required extensive technical expertise and resources. As a result, only the largest companies could afford to invest in eCommerce. However, as the internet became more widely available, more businesses saw the potential of selling online and the market for eCommerce platforms began to grow.
In the early 1990s, the first eCommerce platforms emerged with core eCommerce functionalities, such as ATG (Oracle), WebSphere Commerce (IBM), and Hybris (SAP). These platforms were primarily used by large enterprises due to their high cost.
The Rise of Open-Source Platforms
The rise of open-source platforms, such as OpenCart, Oscommerce, and Magento, marked a major shift in the eCommerce world. During the early to mid-2000s, open-source eCommerce platforms became popular, with other platforms like Zen Cart, Prestashop, and NoCommerce also emerging. These platforms provided businesses with a foundation for building their online stores and allowed for the addition of new features and functionalities as needed. The open-source model also meant that businesses could rely on a community of developers for support and to extend the platform. However, these platforms required businesses or their agencies to provide hosting and constant upgrades, and the quality and performance of eCommerce websites built during this time varied greatly.
The Emergence of SaaS-Based Platforms
As the eCommerce market continued to grow, a new generation of platforms emerged based on the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model. The mid to late 2000s saw the rise of popular SaaS-based platforms like Shopify, BigCommerce, Neto, Demandware (now Salesforce CommerceCloud), and Commercetools, which gained popularity in the 2010s.
These platforms offered a more streamlined solution for businesses, making it easier to set up an online store and start selling quickly. The SaaS model also meant that businesses didn’t need to invest in significant technical resources, as the platform was maintained and updated by the provider. The SaaS model solved several key challenges faced by eCommerce platforms, including scalability, security, and maintenance overhead.
In addition to eCommerce platforms, core eCommerce functionalities, such as search and merchandising, loyalty programs, reviews and user-generated content, subscriptions, and marketing automation, all moved to the SaaS model and became apps. This allowed for easier site extension without much coding and reduced implementation and maintenance costs compared to the open-source days.
A Glimpse into the Future
The eCommerce industry is constantly evolving, and two terms that have been making waves recently are headless commerce and composable commerce. Headless commerce refers to a decoupled architecture where the frontend and backend of an e-commerce platform are separated, allowing for greater flexibility and customization in the design and functionality of the customer-facing interface. Composable commerce, on the other hand, is an approach that allows for the modularization and reuse of e-commerce components, such as checkout, product listings, and recommendations.
From observing the evolution of eCommerce platforms, we can see a pattern emerge. New technologies emerge and are initially only accessible to large enterprises, but as the technology becomes more popular, it becomes more affordable and accessible to small and medium-sized businesses.
Currently, both headless commerce and composable commerce are in the second stage, where platforms are available for large enterprises. However, as headless commerce gains popularity and platforms like Shopify invest in headless frontend technology, it is likely to become more affordable and mainstream in the near future. Similarly, composable commerce is just starting to gain traction in the enterprise space and is likely to become popular and accessible to small and medium-sized businesses in the coming years.
In conclusion, the future of eCommerce technology is constantly changing, and it’s an exciting time to be a part of it. The evolution of eCommerce has made it easier for businesses of all sizes to connect with customers and sell their products online. With new technologies emerging and the pattern of commoditization, the future looks bright for the eCommerce industry.