In the 1900s, the mass production of Model T cars and other items shocked the world; the idea that such heavy duty items could be produced in such a quick manner prompted the development of a new mindset: products can be available more speedily and can be produced more efficiently.
While the Model T cars represented freedom to the rambunctious teenagers of the 1920’s, the assembly line stood as a symbol for so much more; it foreshadowed a world where mass consumption would be the pinnacle of success.
As technology advanced, the mass production and consumption of goods increased exponentially; for most of the 20th century, supermarkets and box stores grew in popularity while quality usually suffered (often at the expense of the customer’s satisfaction).
With the advent of more sophisticated industrial technology came the realization that personal technology (the phone and radio) would have to be innovated to keep up with the changing technological paradigm. When having a radio was once considered a luxury, society’s view on technology evolved, creating the idea that everything can be improved and “new is always better”. This prompted the invention of the computer and business internet, which would eventually be used all over the world in every aspect of business.
The Evolution of the Computer
When the computer was invented, no one believed that it would one day become portable and accessible to everyone, much less the glue that binds producers and consumers together in today’s global economy. The first computer took up an entire room and caused the whole building to vibrate. Now, we have computers we can fit into our backpacks and phones that act as miniature computers. It is not surprising then, that the internet is considered the key to the future.
The computer has allowed us to multitask in ways that used to be almost unimaginable. Now, we can check our email, listen to music, and get updated on the news at the same time. It is only natural that we would find some way to shop online, too.
With the creation of Amazon, the online retail industry grew up. Waiting in line for new products was a thing of the past, as items could be purchased with just a few clicks and your credit card information.
When Amazon was born in 1995, it sold textbooks that were stacked on a makeshift table in a garage in Washington. It quickly morphed into a retail giant, selling everything one could hope to buy, all from the comfort of your own home. No more braving the condescending smirk of that perfectly dressed saleswoman; the time for shopping in privacy and comfort has approached.
Other companies have followed Amazon’s lead by selling their products online. Not only do they set up easy-to-navigate websites, they offer assistance and product reviews, demonstrating that the retail industry really has grown. In addition, many websites make the online buying process easier on the consumer; they offer free shipping for returns on certain items, such as shoes and clothing, because they know it will make the online shopping experience a little less scary.
The growth of companies like Amazon prompted the creation of websites like Etsy and eBay; individuals have the opportunity to sell their own possessions and creations online. For many people, the money earned selling original products on marketplaces such as Etsy or eBay supplements their primary income, helping them make ends meet where they would otherwise struggle financially.
These websites also allow for the nurture of originality and creativity. Amateur artists are given the opportunity to expose themselves to potential customers, thus allowing them to generate a second income and gain an artistic audience.