E-commerce emerged in the 1960s when businesses started using Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) to share documents. In 1979, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) developed ASC X 12, a universal standard for businesses to share documents through electronic networks.
The number of individuals sharing electronic documents grew rapidly in the 1980s but it was the dot-com boom and the emergence of eBay and Amazon in the 90s that accelerated the growth of e-commerce. Fast forward to 2020, the world has seen the internet exploding and the number of online shoppers skyrocketing.
COVID- 19 is accelerating the process of redefining shopping and restructuring the business landscape. We are praying and hopping life gets back to normal sooner rather than later but it is clear our consumer behavior will never be the same.
Change was underway before we got hit by the outbreak of the coronavirus. We had seen the evolution unfolding but we didn’t anticipate the coming of an agent of change operating this swiftly.
Over a quarter of a century ago, the genocide perpetrated against the Tutsi in Rwanda claimed close to 1 million lives and wiped out a significant portion of the nation’s skilled workforce. After the atrocities, the tiny, land-locked East African country embarked on a very challenging rebuilding process. Post-genocide Rwanda has weathered many storms and emerged more united and stronger than ever.
As the country started registering impressive growth in different sectors, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) wasn’t left behind. Before the lockdown, I used to spend a lot of time in the remotest parts of the country but I was always able to work remotely. The fruits of investment in basic ICT infrastructure across the country are evident.
Technological advancements stimulated innovation, which in turn, transformed the way we do business. We started doing business registration and tax declaration online. We turned to technology to pay bills, fines and bus fares, among other things. Technology changed our business communication and it didn’t stop there. It also altered our social interactions.
Although financial institutions and supermarkets are open during the ongoing lockdown, I haven’t gone to the bank since I was instructed to avoid unnecessary movements. I haven’t gone to any supermarket either. I haven’t gone anywhere. Since banking can be done online, going to the bank has become unnecessary. Since shopping can be done online, going to the store has become unnecessary.
We shall win the battle against COVID- 19 but life will not completely go back to normal. Our consumer behavior will never be the same.