It’s only 25 years ago – when PCs at that time still crunched and scratched loudly when you wanted to start a program from floppy disk and graphic surfaces, if they existed at all, still consisted of 16 colours. Windows did not yet exist and so you could only navigate by keyboard. No wonder that the first online shop platforms were established years later. We asked ourselves how e-commerce would have looked like 25 years ago. Take a fictitious time travel with Netensio to the heyday of e-commerce in the late eighties.
Attention: Parts of this blog article may be fictional in nature and may not be meant seriously!
A modern Oxid Retro Shop would have looked something like this 25 years ago. Of course you have to forget the pictures of the articles, they would only have been possible as ASCII characters. But we don’t mind, 25 years ago the shop customers were not quite as demanding as today. We would also like to neglect the pure operation by keyboard in this little simulation.
The navigation is realised via the drop-down menus, which were already very chic back then. It is made easier for the visitor to reach the menu items by simple “tabbing” and to select them accordingly. Another important advantage with the then still very small screens and the correspondingly few lines available.
The Oxid shopping cart in 1989
In our Retro Oxid Shop example we pay attention to a uniform colour differentiation of text elements and control elements. The minimal design possibilities of that time require the precise use of frames, dividing lines and the sparing use of colours (there were only 16 different ones to choose from). Even back then, many shop operators used voucher codes to inspire customers to buy their products. The input of a voucher-coupon code was then an integral part of Commandline Shops!
A “OnePage – Checkout” was not even conceivable at that time, technologies such as AJAX had not yet been invented. Customers had to move through a multi-page checkout process, just like in current online shops. Payment providers like Paypal were not yet on the market, so payment had to be made by credit card or bank transfer. At that time, not a word was said about data protection when transmitting sensitive data between the customer and the online merchant – and it didn’t have to be, there was no SSL or other really good encryption methods. So it’s good that we don’t have to think about all these things when we are in the year 1989.
Oxid item details in the late eighties
On the detail pages of our Retro Shop, customers can already select variants of products and, if desired, add them to their shopping basket. At that time, the main focus was probably still on the detailed description of articles. If you wanted to know something more detailed you could also write a message to the dealer’s letterbox.
Assuming that there were no image files back then, the view of the article doesn’t look that bad. Information about the stock, delivery time, price and description of the article were sufficient for the purchase of a product. If you had a print catalogue of the shop you could easily view the corresponding article in the print catalogue and order it online. If this development had been the case, electronic customer service would probably have been on the rise even then.
Retro customer account in the Oldschool Shop
Of course, it was also possible at that time to create user accounts in the shop and hide them behind a password so that only the respective customer could log in. In the customer account itself it was possible to change addresses, track orders and create wish lists. Even back then it was possible, albeit somewhat limited, to assign items to lists in order to make comparisons between items based on individual attributes.
Fortunately, we are not in reality in the year 1989 and technically we are now so far that there are almost no limits to what is possible in software development. Not everything has gotten better and better, but fortunately not much worse either. We for our part, are looking forward to the comments about this article, from now, in 10, 15 or even in 20 years when we ourselves are already retro again.