As was the case with blogs, electronic commerce (e-commerce) was just in its infancy in 2000, and almost non-existent in 1990. However, over the past 10 years, e-commerce has grown over 300 percent in its total share of retail sales in America, now raking in over $130 billion a year, an amount that is expected to nearly double over the next five years. While still a small fraction of the $3.5 trillion of retail sales in the U.S. annually, e-commerce’s fantastic growth rate means it will have an increasing impact online and in the world. However, open source e-commerce platforms are less prolific than are open source CMSs for blogs and Web sites.
Simplified, e-commerce is the buying or selling of products and services over an electronic system. This system is usually the Internet, but companies can also use specified networks for their e-tail (electronic retail).
E-commerce began in the 1970’s with transactions between companies on purchase orders and invoices sent electronically. This coincided with the rise of credit cards, setting the stage for simple, immediate transactions over the Internet. During the 1990’s, e-commerce remained relatively small until security protocols, DSL, and secure connections became more widespread, and people and businesses became comfortable with e-commerce. Now billions of dollars worth of merchandise and services is bought and sold online, with almost every major retailer and company offering their services online.
E-commerce platforms generally offer a Webstore that allows consumers to shop for products, checkout and pay. They also can help organize orders and payments.
As far as open source e-commerce platforms, the largest ones aren’t as dominant on the net as open source CMSs are with blogs and Web sites. The biggest open source e-commerce providers are osCommerce, Magento CMS, Zen Cart, X-Cart, VirtueMart, and Ubercart, and they combine for less than a quarter of the e-commerce platforms online, according to builtwith.com. Premium e-commerce providers like IBM Websphere Commerce, Yahoo Store, and GSI Commerce, meanwhile, provide almost 75 percent of the e-commerce on the Web.