© Emerald Group Publishing Limited. Purpose - The marketplace evolution associated with the development of the electronic marketplace provides the marketing discipline with a unique opportunity to examine the value of its early literature in the context of a changing market environment. The purpose of this paper is to use the early marketing literature to develop theoretical propositions related to the internet marketplace. Design/methodology/approach - Seminal marketing thought is reviewed and used to provide a conceptual understanding of various aspects of electronic commerce. Findings - Perspectives from the commodity, functional, regional, institutional, and functionalist schools of marketing are used to explain the evolution of the electronic marketplace as well as to provide propositions to guide future research. Originality/value - The application of historical marketing thought to a contemporary business situation serves to validate the robustness of the early literature and demonstrates its ongoing value and usefulness to the discipline.