eCommerce before Mondofora

by Mark Cahill

The History of Online Shopping


Online shopping is so linked to internet history that it may be hard for many to remember a time before it existed. But, while they are indeed inseparably related today, online shopping has its own evolution and adaptation towards its audience and the online stores they shop.     


Online shopping, Pre-ecommerce                              

From its very beginnings, online shopping followed a pattern of retailers leveraging current technology to satisfy shoppers’ needs. The goal has been to provide an innovative service to offer what audiences wanted but couldn’t get locally. This is the traditional problem with Brick&Mortar (traditional) stores, where you need to be present to purchase a product or even know what products are available. However, it may surprise you that tech-enabled retail preceded the internet.

Back in the 1970’s, an inventor named Michael Aldrich put together a device called Videotex, which consisted of a tv linked to a real-time transaction-processing computer through a dial-up telephone line. This system was simple; an interactive menu and the capability of sharing messages between two parties. 


From this moment, online shopping was a reality, bringing products to a bigger market. But even then, it required a one-to-one connection between store and individuals, which differed from the broadcast model of other universal services, like radio or TV.


From those early days, tech-enabled retail experienced many incremental changes before the internet was actually available for public use. During this time, the goal had always been to facilitate a retailer scaling their operations to increase the size of their market, and exploiting the inherent limitations of Brick&Mortar retail.   


The internet was born, online shopping became worldwide!  

After the internet’s birth, online shopping did become worldwide. As expected, businesses could offer their products to shoppers far from their physical stores. This model was dubbed “Disintermediation,” a fancy word literally describing the process of taking the local retailer out of the supply chain.  Eventually, aspirational monopolies (companies wanting to capture the entire market) appeared, with a business model of scaling their way to dominance and willing to endure years of investment (and operational losses) to eliminate local competition.


However, it only took shoppers buying one pair of ill-fitting shoes or a piece of furniture that didn’t look like the online images before the marketplace recognized some of the shortcomings of online-only vendors.  This, and over-investment in a raft of poorly conceived internet businesses, like and, lead to the Bursting of the Dot-Com Bubble and the net loss of billions of dollars of VC-funded investments.


In response, wary investors pulled out of the ecommerce pure-plays (Amazon and Ebay being notable exceptions) and required sound ROI-based business models to demonstrate the benefits of technology to more traditional retail models.  This approach, dubbed Click&Mortar, saw online technologies applied to more traditional vendors, allowing them to build an online presence to augment their established stores.


The modern era and the sudden change of direction  

But in a “once bitten” reaction, retailers limited their online capabilities to the old-fashioned catalog business model and fail to leverage the advantages of real-time global interconnectedness.  In this intellectual void, Amazon continued to invest in infrastructure and horizontal market expansion, and became “king of e-commerce”. By establishing technical superiority and marketing dominance, they positioned themselves as a marketplace portal – the go-to shopping destination for the world’s online shoppers.  In contrast to the disintermediation model, Amazon built a “re-intermediation model” literally inserting themselves not just between manufacturers and shoppers, but between thousands of retailers and their already existing markets – often at significant financial and marketshare loss for both manufacturers and vendors.


So, online shopping and Brick&Mortar shopping were the exact opposites. But none of them adapted to the real need of customers, so a new option was necessary. And therefore, Click&Mortar service was born.


This relatively new system consists of mixing the advantages of online shopping and the benefits of Brick&Mortar. To make it short, it allows customers to flexibly achieve their products, whether it’s starting or finishing their purchase online and/or in-store. 


That flexibility is the principal advantage of Click&Mortar. It gives a bit of control of the purchase back to the customer, allowing them to check their products or choosing when to pick them up, while still giving them the comfort to pre-shop or pay online., online shopping for local markets  

Here is where (and how) Mondofora flips the history of online shopping on its head.  Our goal is provide ecommerce capabilities to LOCAL retailers.  The products are yours.  The sales are yours.  The customers are yours.  We enable the searching (where can I find a Sassafrass-brand tennis racquet?), transaction processing (credit card payments, for now), and allow for a variety of delivery methods (pickup in store, local courier, or traditional shipping). 


What we propose is the possibility of buying online from your neighboring vendors through a local-oriented online platform.  

***  With the COVID-19 crisis devastating our economy, is rolling out our local shopping service on an expedited basis, recognizing the necessity of local markets to survive and provide for their communities.  In these unusual circumstances, we recognize the need to maintain social distance and will be emphasizing the need for our local retailers to offer “curbside pickup” to the public. We, collectively, may experience a few unexpected hiccups as we all try to accommodate these unforeseen circumstances.  ***


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