The Ecommerce Graveyard: How 37 Popular Sites Used to Look

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 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 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

Dell  - 1996

Pizza Hut - 1997

Pizza Hut  - 1997

Expedia - 1997

Expedia  - 1997

Zappos - 2000

Zappos  - 2000

Netflix - 2002

Netflix  - 2002

Apple - 1997

Apple  - 1997

American Apparel - 2001

American Apparel  - 2001

GAP - 1996

GAP  - 1996

Wal-Mart - 2001

Wal-Mart  - 2001

Toys-R-Us - 2000

Toys-R-Us  - 2000 - 2001  - 2001

Barnes & Noble - 1999

Barnes & Noble  - 1999

Best Buy - 1997

Best Buy  - 1997

Zazzle - 2004

Zazzle  - 2004

Amazon - 2006

Amazon  - 2006

Staples - 1997

Staples  - 1997

J Crew - 1996

J Crew  - 1996 - 1999  - 1999

Sony - 1996

Sony  - 1996

Macy's - 1999

Macy's  - 1999

Nike - 1998

Nike  - 1998

Target - 1997

Target  - 1997 - 1997  - 1997

American Eagle Outfitters - 1999

American Eagle Outfitters  - 1999

CD Baby - 1998

CD Baby  - 1998

LL Bean - 1999

LL Bean  - 1999

eBags - 1999

eBags  - 1999

Ancestry - 1998

Ancestry  - 1998

Coach - 2000

Coach  - 2000

Overstock - 1999

Overstock  - 1999

Threadless - 2002

Threadless  - 2002

1-800 - 1999

1-800  - 1999

Ashley Madison - 2002

Ashley Madison  - 2002

CD Now - 1999

CD Now  - 1999

The Hudsons Bay Company - 2001

The Hudsons Bay Company  - 2001 - 2000  - 2000

Shopify - 2008

Shopify  - 2008

All screenshots from Internet Archive's Wayback Machine.


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

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

  • Fred
    August 29 2012, 01:03PM

    I can’t believe how far they have come!

  • Rachel
    August 29 2012, 01:42PM

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

    August 29 2012, 02:27PM

    Amazing how little Amazon has changed.

  • MyShopify
    August 29 2012, 02:49PM

    Love it! ha

    CD NOW has not be to the best…

  • 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
    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
    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!


  • 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?

  • 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:

  • 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
    December 25 2012, 01:39AM

    good collection!!!

  • suhana
    April 09 2013, 08:39AM

    Today i came across this amazing new website named…i really think you guys should check it out..

  • 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

    Nice idea. Amazing suggestion You have given me. Really thanks for this nice sharing. other site here visit:

  • p  berk
    p berk
    September 15 2015, 06:06AM

    Great post.check out the difference between yesterday’s giants and today’s relatively young e – buisness’s of today. I found this site surfing around , simply amazing how they hav changed.

  • Mick Rogan
    Mick Rogan
    October 02 2015, 12:24PM

    Actually some of them don’t look as primitive as I expected. Sites are still doing most of the same things today and in similar ways. Just with a bit more bandwidth and sophistication.

  • thebigcheese
    October 02 2015, 01:17PM

    This would be much cooler if real screenshots and not just snippets from Wayback Machine

  • Samantha Saturn
    Samantha Saturn
    November 18 2015, 09:06PM

    Proud to see CDNOW which i was a part of back then!

  • Max Wagner
    Max Wagner
    December 14 2015, 09:15PM

    Target actually looked kind of cool. The layout was quiet clean (considering the others) and made the content look nice.

  • Tahlia
    January 11 2016, 05:15PM

    Some don’t look so primitive, although let’s not forget how it all started it was cool back then it will be a classic in future. Everything we do now is based on the past, remember that! We simply improve and find better ways by adding new systems, technology, marketing and designs.

  • Wayne Crawford
    Wayne Crawford
    January 18 2016, 01:50PM

    What? No craigslist?

  • david
    January 19 2016, 11:24AM

    great. very interesting!

  • Zibaldot
    April 16 2016, 12:18PM

    I like Amazon but they still look mostly like in 1996

  • Jose B.
    Jose B.
    May 16 2016, 02:26PM

    Good compilation!
    I really like old-style websites, specially those in plain html (white background, black text and blue links).
    These sites were pioneers. I don’t even had a website for my first business in early 2000s.

  • A Merriman
    A Merriman
    June 21 2016, 04:56PM

    It’s amazing the lack of brand presence on some of these sites – look at Nike, only a tiny swoosh visible on the roundel!

  • Paulina Santiago
    Paulina Santiago
    July 29 2016, 10:47AM

    The worst is that you can still find websites these days that look like this!

  • Olatunde Temitope
    Olatunde Temitope
    August 11 2016, 03:29PM

    Wow! Even Shopify as at 2008 was looking weird..

  • Jonathan Cox
    Jonathan Cox
    August 21 2016, 11:36AM

    Dang, I’m getting old. I remember some of these sites! Great post. I shudder to look at some of these examples.

  • Jennifer Links
    Jennifer Links
    August 26 2016, 11:20AM

    Yikes, I used over half of those sites from ’99 and on – I suddenly feel ancient Ha!

    October 07 2016, 09:08PM

    Thanks for this info

  • Kimberly
    November 06 2016, 04:55PM

    Walmart and Amazon haven’t changed. That’s very telling.

  • House of Pleasures
    House of Pleasures
    January 29 2017, 11:55AM

    What a major improvement! I actually remember those sites and they were so nice at that time, lol.

  • sridhar
    March 05 2017, 04:03PM

    Well researched list….so much change… Shopify !!!! you been there too.

  • Nick Mealey
    Nick Mealey
    March 19 2017, 09:40PM

    You got to love the Way Back Machine! Funny to see that Amazon hasn’t really changed much in the way of style :)

  • Abel Valdivia
    Abel Valdivia
    March 27 2017, 02:39PM

    You can see the history of any website using this page:



  • Brandon Hayden
    Brandon Hayden
    April 26 2017, 02:54PM

    Wow. Nike?

  • Jeremy
    April 28 2017, 04:16PM

    Wow great history there. Thanks for sharing.
    Did you want to take a screenshot of our site now so when we are a huge global company you do show us 15 years ago….

  • fuad
    April 30 2017, 07:03AM

    great story and how they changes making themselves popular as times go by hoping my store could be on that list One day

  • Himanshu
    May 08 2017, 10:26AM

    Great Post. Loved it!

  • Sandra
    May 13 2017, 01:12PM

    Thankfully, most websites today start with attractive templates. Sadly there are a few sites around today that are still featuring tacky clip art icons, blue underlined links, choppy repeating backgrounds and GIF animations.

    I remember back in the 90’s taking my first HTML course. It was so thrilling to be able to create a web page. I had to learn how to type basic commands in Notepad and yes, I had the ugly blue underlined links.

  • Kay
    June 28 2017, 08:32PM

    Amazon looks exactly the same. (Kind of terrible in my opinion—it’s not my favorite design-wise and I still find the site very difficult to use.) Also, interesting to see how consistent Gap and American Eagle have been with their branding throughout the years. A testament to their continued relevancy.

  • Paul Keen
    Paul Keen
    July 12 2017, 07:47PM

    what is the point of this??

  • Joe
    July 17 2017, 02:42PM

    J. Crew gets credit for being an early adopter of using images front and center! I know images were hard to use back then because of internet connection speeds, but clearly they made it work!

  • Shawn Kalin
    Shawn Kalin
    July 31 2017, 03:00PM

    Funny thing is, we’ve come full circle!

    It’s called “mobile first”

    We’re back to simple 1 column, single image, little animation, with big buttons and links.

    Making mobile enjoyable will be tricky. But will happen. Maybe in AR/VR.

  • Brian Weiske
    Brian Weiske
    July 31 2017, 04:12PM

    Great to see you included – thanks! We had a lot of fun and it definitely was a wild ride back then. By the way, HBO’s “Silicon Valley”, especially seasons 1 & 2, were dead on – hilarious.

  • Shipmychip
    August 12 2017, 02:41AM

    Really amazing by watching this post.. Threadless became one of the popular brand in E-commerce business.. And others too..
    Very Informative.. Thanks for sharing the posts.. Please keep on updating…

  • Chad Kimball
    Chad Kimball
    November 08 2017, 02:12PM

    This is great!

    But why didn’t you include Craigslist?!

  • Olle Fastrup
    Olle Fastrup
    November 09 2017, 03:47AM

    Really like this post, more of this!

  • Rebecca
    November 12 2017, 06:45PM

    Sad part is I remember most of these and used some of them as examples of how to design my websites. Lol. We’ve come a long way.

  • Marius
    November 30 2017, 01:21PM

    Thank you Wayback machine!

  • Jimmy
    February 17 2018, 10:06PM

    I’ve just got started. I’m inspired to know that it’s not where you are now but where you can be if you put in the time and effort to learn about this business

  • Deana Barker
    Deana Barker
    April 08 2018, 02:00PM

    I helped develop 1shoppingcart (before it even had that name), Where Ecommerce has gone since then just blows my mind. I remember working on the first autoresponder and the first affiliate link tracker—things we all take for granted today. Our first product attempt was actually online real estate listings which had to scrap because agents didn’t understand or trust the platform and look at it now! :-)

  • Dottydaga
    April 13 2018, 06:11PM

    Wow! I still remember some of them!! Lol amazing how much technology has done for us

  • Matthew Johnson
    Matthew Johnson
    April 15 2018, 11:03PM

    Great article, my what a difference technology makes.

  • Andrea
    April 16 2018, 03:13PM

    I don’t know about the US versions, but and have obviously not made any progress :P

  • Jason
    April 26 2018, 03:49AM

    What a fun blast from the past!

  • Hannah
    May 03 2018, 06:22AM

    I was surprised that several of those sites (Walmart, Amazon) have not changed a whole lot over the last 20 years.

    May 04 2018, 03:21AM

    Hahaha!! Nice article and even better comments from this original post… Oldest comment being from 2012, it’s now 2018. Can’t wait to see this 5-10yrs from now! Amazing! #boldaddictions

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