E-commerce (or “electronic commerce”) basically means buying and selling things online.  This is a very new field of business.  In 2014, e-commerce celebrated its twentieth anniversary.  The first item purchased through the Internet was a CD by musician Sting called “Ten Summoner’s Tales”.  The purchase was made on August 11, 1994 for $12.98.

Amazon.com is one of the biggest online retailers in the world.  Started in 1994, the company sold only books at first.  By 2014, however, it sold a huge variety of items, including DVDs, electronics, clothing, toys, and groceries!  About 63% of all books purchased online are bought from Amazon.  It sells 40% of all books sold in the world.

Books are one of the most popular items to buy online.  They make up 63% of all online purchases in Britain and 67% for Americans.  Clothing and electronics are also very common purchase items.  Surveys show that shipping costs play the biggest role in deciding to purchase something online.  80% of online shoppers say they are more likely to buy something from the Internet if it includes free shipping.

When it comes to online shopping, people in the UK spend the most money per person in the world.  In China, e-commerce is growing fast with almost $37 billion worth of sales in 2009.