One of the first big internet businesses was Freeserve, launched in 1998 when the internet boom had started.
For years people talked about ecommerce, but nothing happened. Smug people said “I told you so,” confident that the old ways would last forever.
But, in some cases a few years later than expected, companies such as Amazon became big players and the ecommerce boom was well and truly under way.
There were predictions that ecommerce would have a big effect on the high street but again nothing really seemed to happen at first, and the same smug people said “I told you so”.
But things have now changed radically and the big question is whether the tipping point has finally arrived?
Older people like me use the internet in one way, but younger people have grown up with it and use it in a different way.
The thing that’s changed everything is the smartphone. Wherever I go, people have got a smartphone in their hand. People are addicted to it – go on a train or bus and people are always looking down at their phones. When I look at my family at home, young and old, they are looking their phones – it’s part of their lives.
The other thing that’s changed is the next generation not only live on this technology, they don’t think twice about using it to buy something and they don’t think twice about returning something if it’s not right.
Older people often don’t like to send stuff back, but younger people don’t have a problem with it at all.
I’ve got three teenage daughters, and there is a constant stream of parcels to the house. I still prefer to go to town to spend my money, but my daughters are happy to use the technology and importantly to return things if they are not right.
When the internet first arrived, people used it just to surf. They didn’t use it to buy anything. The technology to buy wasn’t there.
When mobile phones first came out we only used them to make phone calls, the technology for anything else wasn’t there. Remember we only took them out of our pockets when the phone rang?
Now I am in a panic when I can’t feel my smartphone in my pocket. It tells me everything. Retailers are only limited by their imagination. Every time I pay for my pasty at Greggs using ApplePay I have a smile on my face, it’s absolutely fantastic.
I am in no doubt the tipping point has now arrived and the companies that are doing well are the ones that know how to exploit the technology.
As you read this, don’t forgot what you’ve got in your pocket and which companies are worth a fortune. Don’t be one of those who said “I told you so”.
- Ajaz Ahmed launched Freeserve and is the founder of Legal365.com