E-business, or electronic business, is the use of electronic media to conduct buying and selling activity. The first major milestone in e-business was the introduction of the Internet to household consumers in 1994. The rise of e-commerce has been meteoric as consumers gained greater access to the web and businesses large and small found effective ways to reach them.


As the Internet emerged and gained momentum into the late 1990s, companies had wild aspirations as to how rapidly advertising and retail would shift from traditional brick-and-mortar shops to the web. Aggressive companies dumped millions of dollars into online banner ads without little concern for analysis or return on investment metrics. This dive into unchartered waters met the same concrete foundation as the dot.com era itself. In a June 1999 "Information Week" study, 81 percent of businesses indicated they had a website at that time.

Early 21st century

After the bubble burst on the initial enthusiasm for Internet-based companies, the start of the 21st century saw a more healthy but still rapid growth rate in Internet usage and business activity. In February 2005, Forrester Research projected that online retail sales would reach $316 billion by 2010, more than doubling the sales in 2004. In 2004, online sales accounted for 7 percent of all retail sales.

From "Electronic" to "Mobile"

The latter half of the 21st century's first decade saw the emergence of mobile commerce, which is the use of mobile devices for business and advertising. Collectively, e-commerce and m-commerce combined for significant growth in customer access to promotional messages, shopping platforms and research information often contributing to in-store purchases. More small-business start-ups emerged thanks to the ability to set up an online shop through various third-party providers and offer products out of the home to a global audience.

E-Business 2013

Electronic business growth remained strong as of early 2013. Forrester revised its somewhat ambitious forecast in early 2010 to indicate expected online sales of $250 billion by 2014. Online retail sales are expected to grow by about 10 percent per year through 2014, at which point the Internet will account for 8 percent of all retail sales. Advertisers poured more than $40 billion into online advertising during 2012.