Examples of Ecommerce Businesses

Ecommerce became a mainstream phenomenon beginning in the 1990s. Amazon.com—which is now the world’s largest ecommerce platform—debuted in 1995, and other large ecommerce businesses such as Alibaba, PayPal, and eBay soon followed. By the early 2000s, businesses of all sizes were offering ecommerce experiences.

Some B2B and B2C businesses, such as Amazon, originate as ecommerce businesses with no brick-and-mortar retail outlets. These pure-play businesses typically identify a gap in the traditional retail market that can be filled through an ecommerce-only solution.

Warby Parker is an example of a company that recognized that consumers wanted to try on glasses in the comfort of their own homes. The company was founded in 2010 as an online-only retailer of prescription glasses, and by 2015 it was valued at more than $1 billion. Today, Warby Parker operates a limited number of brick-and-mortar shops to complement its ecommerce sales. (Pure-play companies that later add physical locations are called brick-and-click companies.)

Casper mattresses also began as an ecommerce-only retailer. Founded in 2014, Casper was valued at more than $1.1 billion by 2019, and year-over-year sales continue to grow. Casper sells mattresses and related items online as well as through a limited number of physical showrooms and partnerships with companies like Target.

The Blonde Salad is another ecommerce success story, begun by Chiara Ferragni in 2009. Using social media influencers and targeting millennial shoppers, The Blonde Salad quickly grew from a fashion blog to an online magazine and rapidly expanding ecommerce business that sells clothing and accessories.

Other businesses have a long history as traditional brick-and-mortar retailers and have integrated ecommerce with their traditional sales offerings. For example, London-based department store John Lewis & Partners opened its first John Lewis store in 1864 and now maintains more than 50 brick-and-mortar stores across Great Britain. At the same time, the business has integrated sophisticated ecommerce offerings, enabling customers to shop online from a variety of devices and purchase items for home delivery or in-store pickup.

Louis Vuitton (founded in 1854), Things Remembered (founded as Can Do in 1967), and the TJX Companies (founded as Zayre Corp. in 1956) are additional examples of traditional retailers that have successfully integrated ecommerce. All maintain brick-and-mortar stores where customers can still try on items, interact with salespeople, and physically touch and test products. At the same time, their ecommerce channels enable customers worldwide to research products and order them using their preferred device when they want, for delivery when and where they want.