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Secure ecommerce turns 20 (Plus: 95% of Brits now shop online)

Monday marked two decades since Philadelphian Phil Brandenburger made what is generally considered to be the first secure purchase on the Internet, when he snatched up the Sting CD “Ten Summoner’s Tales” through the now-obscure online retailer Net Market.

Commercial transactions had been conducted online before this, but according to an article in the New York Times that appeared the day after Brandenburger’s purchase, this was the first “retail transaction on the Internet using a readily available version of powerful data encryption software designed to guarantee privacy.”

This opened the proverbial floodgates, as shoppers, once fearful of their personal information being nicked by some cyber criminal, slowly but surely began to embrace the convenience, and safety, of ecommerce.

Shop Direct, a UK online retailer, released research to coincide with Monday’s anniversary. It showed that 95% of Brits now shop online. Books (64%), clothing and accessories (60%), music and entertainment (56%), electronics (54%) and holidays and travel (50%) are the most purchased items.

Only 12% of Brits were shopping online at the turn of the century. And those daring few willing to dip their toes into the ecommerce waters were more likely to have purchased a book than any other product category. Today, according to Shop Direct, fashion can make that claim.

In fact, ecommerce is the fastest growing retail market in all of Europe, with sales in the UK, Germany, France, Sweden, the Netherlands, Italy, Poland and Spain alone expected to reach a combined total of $212.8 billion (£111.2B or €155.3B) and projected growth at 18.1%, according to the Centre for Retail Research.

Emerging global markets aren’t immune to the “ecomm phenomenon” either. We’ve already highlighted on the blog how Chinese consumers increasingly favor shopping online; right on that country’s heels is Brazil, the second fastest-growing ecommerce market in the world.

Twenty years on and global B2C sales are expected to reach 1.5 trillion dollars in 2014. Imagine what the next twenty years will bring.

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