Aviva Directory » Shopping & eCommerce

Shopping, of course, is an activity in which a potential customer browses an inventory of products available for sale with the purpose of potentially making a purchase, and eCommerce refers to online shopping.

At the turn of the 21st century, there were brick-and-mortar retail stores, and there were the, then new, online shopping sites. Today, many traditional brick-and-mortar retailers also do business online, while some of the larger online retailers, such as Amazon, have opened brick-and-mortar retail sites. A brick-and-mortar store is a physical establishment where customers can interact face-to-face with employees while shopping for products that are physically available on the premises.

Prior to the Middle Ages, people shopped at marketplaces and fairs, where goods and services were exchanged. Due to the transient nature of the sellers, consumers needed to make a careful inspection of goods prior to making a transaction. The forums of Ancient Rome were examples of early retail shopfronts.

Outside of the larger cities, up until the mid-20th century, markets supplemented the needs of people, who provided for their basic needs through subsistence farming and bartering services for goods, and vice versa.

Few permanent retail stores were found outside of the larger cities. Rather, customers dealt directly with tradesmen, while peddlers and other itinerant vendors offered home delivery to households in isolated communities.

By the 13th century, permanent shops were opened in the larger European cities, although merchandise was stored at the rear of the store, and items were only brought out on request. Many stores conducted business with customers through windows that opened out onto the street.

The idea of shopping for pleasure began with the emerging middle class in 17th and 18th century Europe. As standards of living improved, consumers began purchasing items that were beyond their basic necessities, particularly as trade routes were opened to China, India, and Southeast Asia.

By the latter part of the 19th century, shops were transitioning from single-product stores to the department store model, where a large variety of products were available. The term (department store) originated in the United States, however. In England, they were known as emporia or warehouse shops. Many early department stores, by whatever name, included libraries, art galleries, dining rooms, and concert facilities.

Later, shopping hubs developed under a variety of names, including shopping centers, shopping malls, town squares, flea markets, bazaars, and marketplaces.

Electronic commerce, known as eCommerce (E-commerce) is a reference to the electronic buying or selling of products through online services. Driven by the technological advances of computers and the Internet, eCommerce has become a major sector in the retail shopping industry.

Typically, eCommerce takes place through shopping websites, although transactions may also take place through email.

Three major areas of eCommerce include online retailing, electronic markets, and online auctions.

Online retailing (shopping) allows consumers to purchase goods or services from a seller over the Internet using a web browser or mobile application. Typically, shoppers will visit the website of a retailer directly, where they can view photos and other details about available products, including prices, and make purchases from the site, with products delivered electronically or shipped via USPS, UPS, FedEx, or another shipping company. Generally, payments must be made through a credit card, a debit card, or a service such as PayPal.

Through electronic markets, such as Etsy, sellers can set up storefronts where they can list and sell goods in return for either a set fee per item or a percentage of each sale. Amazon is both an online retailer and an electronic marketplace, as the company offers its own products for sale through its site, while allowing third-party sellers to list and sell their products, as well.

Online auctions, such as eBay and Sotheby's, offer products for sale by auction. Similar to in-person auctions, a variety of online auction sites come with different bidding and selling rules, with some of them open to consumers, while others are business-to-business auctions.

In the Shopping & eCommerce section of our web guide, it is recommended that brick-and-mortar stores that are available in a single location, as well as online shopping sites that ship to a small and specific area, be submitted to the appropriate Local & Global category, while most eCommerce sites may be listed in the appropriate sub-category of this section, as well as in the Local & Global category that represents the company's physical location or headquarters.


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