As the revenues from online sales continued to grow significantly researchers identified different types of online shoppers, Rohm & Swaninathan identified four categories and named them “convenience shoppers, variety seekers, balanced buyers, and store-oriented shoppers”. They focused on shopping motivations and found that the variety of products available and the perceived convenience of the buying online experience were significant motivating factors. This was different for offline shoppers, who were more motivated by time saving and recreational motives.
English entrepreneur Michael Aldrich was a pioneer of online shopping in 1979. His system connected a modified domestic TV to a real-time transaction processing computer via a domestic telephone line. He believed that videotex, the modified domestic TV technology with a simple menu-driven human–computer interface, was a ‘new, universally applicable, participative communication medium — the first since the invention of the telephone.’ This enabled ‘closed’ corporate information systems to be opened to ‘outside’ correspondents not just for transaction processing but also for e-messaging and information retrieval and dissemination, later known as e-business. His definition of the new mass communications medium as ‘participative’ [interactive, many-to-many] was fundamentally different from the traditional definitions of mass communication and mass media and a precursor to the social networking on the Internet 25 years later.
In March 1980 he launched Redifon’s Office Revolution, which allowed consumers, customers, agents, distributors, suppliers and service companies to be connected on-line to the corporate systems and allow business transactions to be completed electronically in real-time. During the 1980s he designed, manufactured, sold, installed, maintained and supported many online shopping systems, using videotex technology. These systems which also provided voice response and handprint processing pre-date the Internet and the World Wide Web, the IBM PC, and Microsoft MS-DOS, and were installed mainly in the UK by large corporations.