Is it ecommerce or e-commerce? Short answer is: both.

On the face of it, this looks like an argument over semantics. After all, nearly every person reading either spelling will immediately understand both mean the same thing — electronic commerce.

Things are not always that simple though especially in the context of digital marketing and search engine optimization (SEO).

In a world of cutthroat competition for eyeballs, spelling usually matters. What we will establish is whether it does in the case of ecommerce and e-commerce.

Historical Evolution of the Term

Electronic commerce refers to the buying and selling of goods and services via computer networks, telecommunication networks and the Internet overall. It does not only cover the transaction but also all the other activity around building and maintaining business relationships as a whole.

The history of electronic commerce dates back to the late 1940s where it was initially the exchange of business documents and a system of placing orders via telex. The term got into early use in the 1960s and 1970s.

English inventor Michael Aldrich is considered the father of modern electronic commerce. In 1979, he created a shopping system that facilitated the processing of transactions between businesses and consumers using a computer network. It was not until five years later that the term electronic commerce was first legally defined via California’s Electronic Commerce Act of 1984.

The first end-to-end electronic commerce transaction is thought to have occurred in August 1994.

Google Books Ngram Viewer indicates use of the term really started to catch on from around 1995. Unsurprisingly, this was around the same time the Internet was in its early phase of mass adoption. Electronic commerce in its various shortened formats has been a fixture of online and offline literature ever since.

SEO Implications of Spelling Variations

Ngram Viewer shows the use of e-commerce is far more widespread than ecommerce. This gap…


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