The Ecommerce Graveyard: How 37 Popular Sites Used to Look

Online shopping began its steady growth in 1994 after new security measures allowed for safe ecommerce transactions to occur online. Surprisingly, Pizza Hut was one of the first major companies to adopt ecommerce by offering online ordering through their website.

As online shopping grew in popularity, brick-and-mortar stores began to offer their products online, and entire companies were created to facilitate web sales. In 1995 Jeff Bezos launched Amazon.com which is now the world's largest online retailer - they brought in $48 billion in 2011 alone. Online auction site eBay also opened shop in 1995. Expedia was founded in 1996 as a small division of Microsoft, and Zappos.com opened it's digital doors in 1999.

With today's high-res photos and speedy shopping carts, it's easy to forget how primitive most ecommerce stores used to be. Check out how these big brand-names sites looked before they became popular. Although they seem simplistic, unintuitive, and kind of ugly, at the time they were cutting-edge, and they paved the way for what ecommerce is today.

Dell - 1996

Pizza Hut - 1997

Expedia - 1997

Zappos - 2000

Netflix - 2002

Apple - 1997

American Apparel - 2001

GAP - 1996

Wal-Mart - 2001

Toys-R-Us - 2000

Diapers.com - 2001

Barnes & Noble - 1999

Best Buy - 1997

Zazzle - 2004

Amazon - 2006

Staples - 1997

J Crew - 1996

Buy.com - 1999

Sony - 1996

Macy's - 1999

Nike - 1998

Target - 1997

Wine.com - 1997

American Eagle Outfitters - 1999

CD Baby - 1998

LL Bean - 1999

eBags - 1999

Ancestry - 1998

Coach - 2000

Overstock - 1999

Threadless - 2002

1-800 Flowers.com - 1999

Ashley Madison - 2002

CD Now - 1999

The Hudsons Bay Company - 2001

Art.com - 2000

Shopify - 2008

All screenshots from Internet Archive's Wayback Machine.

24 comments

  • @Shopify Jamie
    Jamie
    August 29 2012, 12:35PM

    Some really great (and embarrassing) examples you found here. Great post!

  • Fred
    Fred
    August 29 2012, 01:03PM

    I can’t believe how far they have come!

  • Rachel
    Rachel
    August 29 2012, 01:42PM

    What an epic collection – I especially get a kick out of Netflix and BestBuy.

  • iCollectionShop.com
    iCollectionShop.com
    August 29 2012, 02:27PM

    Amazing how little Amazon has changed.

  • MyShopify
    MyShopify
    August 29 2012, 02:49PM

    Love it! ha

    CD NOW has not be to the best…

  • Janelle
    Janelle
    August 29 2012, 03:03PM

    haha coach looks great. Apparently they were ahead of their time.

  • David Miller
    David Miller
    August 29 2012, 04:18PM

    Such a transformation in little time!

  • K
    K
    August 29 2012, 04:58PM

    tables tables tables tables tables tables

  • Daniel Bakan
    Daniel Bakan
    August 29 2012, 07:46PM

    Hehe, so amazing. Another 10 years and we will be looking at our todays designs the exact same way. And that’s a good thing of course. Keeps us busy

  • Michael
    Michael
    August 30 2012, 09:25AM

    What a great list – thanks for putting this together.

    Sadly, the Hudson’s Bay site from 2001 doesn’t look much different than it does today!

    Michael

  • Marni
    Marni
    August 30 2012, 11:26AM

    Unreal on how much their websites have changed in the past few years, Swag Is Back have done a major renovation of design on their homepage, it still isn’t finished, but check it out and tell us what you think?
    www.swagisback.com

  • Freya
    Freya
    August 30 2012, 02:52PM

    Lol! These made me laugh. Good post :).

  • Nate Shivar
    Nate Shivar
    August 31 2012, 09:27PM

    Great post. Gives new meaning to “form follows function.”

    They all worked – and I think that was the #1 key early on. It just needs to work. Only now has design really started catching up.

    What’s on the page now that 5 years from now we’ll be laughing at?

  • Zulhilmi Zainudin
    Zulhilmi Zainudin
    September 02 2012, 10:31AM

    The table era. ;)

  • Janelle Pierce
    Janelle Pierce
    September 04 2012, 04:10PM

    This is so interesting – excellent post Mark!

  • Mark Wong
    Mark Wong
    September 06 2012, 12:52PM

    Great collection!

  • Christopher Regan
    Christopher Regan
    September 17 2012, 12:20PM

    So many GUIs, very not so long ago. Fun.
    I recall RCA’s work with US Interactive ~2000, remote control embedded as nav: http://web.archive.org/web/20000303011654/http://www.rca.com/

  • Karol
    Karol
    September 22 2012, 06:05PM

    It’s amazing. Today, most eShop owners have more knowladge about online marketing/design/product placement that those giants 8-10 years a go!

  • Ahmed Dirie
    Ahmed Dirie
    September 25 2012, 11:38AM

    This is one of the most interesting walks down web-memory lane. And to think, once upon a time, some of these were the coolest sites online.

  • alexbehl52
    alexbehl52
    December 25 2012, 01:39AM

    good collection!!!
    http://www.woodentoddlertoys.com/hotholidaytoys.html

  • suhana
    suhana
    April 09 2013, 08:39AM

    HI
    Today i came across this amazing new website named nupinch.com…i really think you guys should check it out..
    Link: http://bit.ly/XczfI3

  • celine
    celine
    April 11 2014, 03:54PM

    It’s amazing how all of these sites have evolved over the years! You can almost see the pixels in spherical logos! As time goes on, things will always improve, especially in appearances, and marketing purposes with businesses.
    Celine | Ledo’s Pizza

  • akshay naik
    akshay naik
    May 27 2014, 08:17AM

    Great post. Gives new meaning to “form follows function.” It’s amazing. Today, most eShop owners have more knowladge about online marketing/design/product placement that those giants.

  • christopher lawyer
    christopher lawyer
    July 24 2014, 01:14AM

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