Throwback Thursday: The Evolution Of Online Marketplaces

Remember when?

Remember when...Amazon was just books and eBay was just descriptions of random products without pictures? 

Ah, the age-old familiar saying that can take anyone back to a nostalgic time. A time before smartphones and apps, a time before payments meant anything but cash or check, and a time way, way before retail was being rapidly disrupted by eCommerce. 

There was no omnichannel, no concept of monetizing mobile and there wasn't a weekly headline that involved a cyber attack, a data breach or an app glitch that compromised the data of everyday consumers. Oh, those were the days, huh? 

The payments and commerce industry moves so fast, with headlines focused on innovation and the "next big thing" that we often forget the industry's roots. That's why we've taken just a bit of your time to offer this Throwback Thursday piece to the iconic side of the online marketplaces that flood PYMNTS' headlines on a daily basis. 


When eBay launched, it was the bee's knees — there was just nothing like it. Now, 20 years later, the colors on the logo are still the same, but it's gotten a ton more sophisticated. Users can actually shop by category, instead of being pigeonholed into just a few select types. There's actual revolving photos and interactive features.

You may be surprised to learn that the original eBay, however, looked a lot more like a glorified classified section (which also caused a legal tussle with Craigslist), and eBay (as shown below in the 1995 version), wasn't quite the marketplace that an estimated 157.3 million active users are said to use. 




And then there's Amazon. 

Talk about a transformation. Take a look at Amazon, the 1994 edition when Amazon was just books and people actually said "" It didn't threaten most retailers yet, but it started encroaching on the publishing industry and local bookstores. 

There was no easy way to navigate the site, no search bar at top and no colorful pictures. No recommendations based on a consumer's search history. No Kindle. And no hint of any loyalty program called Prime. 

Its biggest challenge was getting more book titles and convincing consumers why they should buy books online, and now its biggest challenge is turning quarterly profits on 20-some billion in sales. 

Ah, 1994. 

Remember when? 



And then sometimes, when you say "remember when," it doesn't seem all that different.

Of course, for sites like Craigslist, there's a lot more categories, it's more visually appealing, and the search options are much more localized and sophisticated. But it's still the same blue and white text — just on steroids.

Today's version has photos, many more categories and plenty more search options. "Remember when" might not be so relevant when talking Craigslist's site design.





About: Accelerating The Real-Time Payments Demand Curve:What Banks Need To Know About What Consumers Want And Need, PYMNTS  examines consumers’ understanding of real-time payments and the methods they use for different types of payments. The report explores consumers’ interest in real-time payments and their willingness to switch to financial institutions that offer such capabilities.

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