We knew that e-commerce was really about graphic design, not transaction processing. Unless you had a site that could convince people to buy, you didn’t have a transaction to process, and what convinced people to buy was how good the site looked.
We didn’t even process credit card transactions till about 2 years in. We would just forward the order to the merchant, and they’d process it like a phone order.
Paul Graham, answering the question, “Why did users like Viaweb?”
Founders at Work: Stories of Startups’ Early Days (Kindle Locations 3715-3723).