I’m digging back into the history of online electronic commerce — a task I’m particularly suited to do as the founder of The Internet Mall, the first and original online shopping directory, launched in 1994 — and am interested in hearing from anyone who might have specific data about online frequent buyer programs, even if it’s from AOL, CompuServe or similar.
Specifically: what’s the earliest online frequent buyer or buyer points program you can recall and what documentation (receipts, email messages, whatever) do you have to back it up?
A useful definition too, just so we’re talking about the same thing: I’m defining a frequent buyer program as a promotion where if you buy two items, you get a third free, if you buy $x worth of merchandise you get a free discount, or even that you gained “points” for each purchase you made, accumulating over time.
And just for the pure historical joy of it, here’s one of the original graphics from The Internet Mall, first online back in 1995:
Boy, things have sure changed in the last ten years!
Incidentally, if you have an archive of old issues of Internet World Magazine from this era, that’d be a great place for research and I might be willing to buy a full archive from 1993, 1994, or 1995. I wish I still had my old copies of this publication…