2006. Daniel Craig’s first James Bond film was released, Steve Irwin died, Italy won the World Cup and “It’s Chico Time” reached number one in the charts: A mixed year. 

But what was happening online, and more specifically, in online retail? In celebration of Econsultancy’s fifth E-commerce Platforms Buyer’s Guide, we’ve gone back five years to look at the top UK retail sites as they were then… and how they shape up now. 

The Platforms Guide looks extensively at developments in the marketplace, alongside current growth rates within the UK e-commerce industry. 

Currently, the platforms market is expected to be worth some £690m this year, within a sector valued at more than £60bn. It is a thriving environment, given the scale of online retail and the crucial role technology plays in driving this forward.

Trends that will continue to emerge over the next twelve months include:

  • Digital giants strive to develop e-commerce capabilities.
  • Mobile commerce matures as a bridge to multichannel retail.
  • Commerce continues to get more social.
  • Facebook evolves into its own e-commerce platform.
  • Retailers seek to join up online and offline channels.
  • International e-commerce provides opportunity for growth. 

These are all explored in detail within the report, but it seemed like a great opportunity to also look backwards, as well as forwards. 

The IMRG and Experian Hitwise recently released the Hotshops 100 list for the UK and using the current top 20 e-commerce sites in the UK as a basis, we’ve time-travelled back five years to give a snapshot as to how these online retail giants have developed their properties. 

What’s interesting to see, is that for the most part, changes have been minor. Frameworks are still obvious, as are branding colours and layouts. Although it’s also pleasing to see that all have moved away from left-of-screen display, I think what’s more important is considering what’s happened under the bonnet of these sites.

Increased traffic and more complex sales systems are only a couple of the major factors that e-commerce platforms have had to evolve to deal with in recent years. 

But for now, here’s the sites and their retrospective changes: 

Amazon

Then

Now

Argos

Then

Now


Tesco 

Then

Now


Play

Then

Now

Next

Then

Now

M&S 

Then

Now

Apple 

Then

Now


B&Q

Then

Now


John Lewis

Then

Now


EasyJet

Then

Now

Debenhams 

Then

Now


ASOS

Then

Now


New Look

(New Look’s website was non-existent in 2006, so we’ve added an extra in its place). 

Top Shop

Then

Now


Expedia 

Then

Now


Thomson

Then

Now


Ryanair

Then

Now


Homebase

Then

Now


River Island

(Until recently, RI was built in Flash, so finding a cached site from 2006 is proving diffiicult. Instead, we’ve added an extra player onto this list). 

Sainsbury’s

Then

Now


Thomas Cook 

Then

Now


ASDA

Then

Now