67 Ecommerce Stats and Facts to Know in 2021

Blog Credit: Austin Caldwell, April 15, 2021 (67 E-Commerce Stats and Facts to Know in 2021 | NetSuite)

Ecommerce has transformed the retail landscape in recent years, accounting for a growing percentage of global sales to consumers and businesses. Ecommerce revenue is expected to continue to expand as internet access spreads worldwide and consumers in all age groups become more comfortable with purchasing big-ticket items online.

The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically accelerated the transition, as sales shifted from brick-and-mortar to online stores. Tracking ecommerce statistics and buying trends can help businesses fine-tune their marketing and sales efforts, whether they are selling to consumers or other businesses.

67 Ecommerce Stats

Ecommerce statistics help businesses gauge how customers are spending their money and where to focus their efforts. The statistics in this article track the market’s size and rapid growth — both worldwide and in individual countries. They also highlight changes in consumers’ buying habits and the factors that influence their purchasing decisions (all of which can vary based on their age), as well as the problems they encounter when trying to buy online.

Statistics can also suggest ways that business can improve consumers’ online experience and generate more sales.

General Ecommerce Stats

Ecommerce growth surged worldwide in 2020, as stay-at-home orders during the pandemic accelerated the already rapid shift to online sales.

  1. An estimated 1.92 billion people worldwide purchased goods or services online in 2019 — about a quarter of the world’s total population.
  2. Global retail ecommerce sales surged 27.6% during 2020, eMarketer estimates, due largely to the COVID-19 pandemic, reaching an estimated worldwide total of $4.28 trillion.
  3. By 2023, ecommerce will account for more than $6.5 trillion in sales, representing 22% of all global retail sales.
  4. Consumers spent more than $861 billion online with U.S. retailers in 2020, according to Digital Commerce 360, a market research firm. That was a remarkable 44% spike from 2019, and almost triple the 15.1% increase the previous year.
  5. Ecommerce as a percentage of total U.S. retail sales retail rose from about 4.5% in 2011 to 14% in the third quarter of 2020, according to U.S. Department of Commerce figures. Digital Commerce 360 estimates that ecommerce accounted for an even higher 21.3% share of U.S. retail sales in 2020.

6. Business-to-business (B2B) ecommerce sales are soaring too. The global B2B ecommerce market reached $5.7 trillion in 2019 and is expected to expand by 17.5% annually from 2020 to 2027.

7. China leads the world in ecommerce adoption, per eMarketer. China will have an estimated 792.5 million digital buyers in 2021, a third of the global total. Additionally, it’s expected to see almost $2.8 trillion in ecommerce sales — more than half of the global total — in 2021 and become the first country to see more than half of retail sales happen online.

8. All 32 countries eMarketer surveyed experienced at least double-digit ecommerce growth in 2020. Latin America rose 36.7%, including a remarkable 79% increase in Argentina. Singapore also saw exceptional growth of 71%.

Ecommerce vs. Brick-and-Mortar Stats

In general, ecommerce has taken off at the expense of sales at brick-and-mortar stores. But some traditional retailers are finding ways to take advantage of online channels to drive sales.

  1. In the U.S., retail sales grew 6.9% in 2020 to just over $4 trillion, according to Digital Commerce 360, but ecommerce accounted for all of that growth for the first time in history. Sales through all other channels, like stores, catalogs and call centers, shrank.
  2. Worldwide, ecommerce growth is expected to slow to a still substantial 14.3% in 2021, eMarketer predicts, partly because more sales will once again happen in brick-and-mortar stores.
  3. Despite the rise of online sales, consumers still crave brick-and-mortar experiences. A quarter of consumers feel more connected with brands when they visit a store, a report from Walker Sands notes. Among consumers ages 18 to 25, 59% say they prefer to visit a store for clothing and apparel.
  4. Some brick-and-mortar retailers are successfully expanding into online sales, in part due to the pandemic. For the first time, Digital Commerce 360 ranked Walmart the No. 2 online retailer in North America in 2020 and Target made it into the top 10.
  5. Many retailers are also expanding transactions in which consumers buy online and pick up in store (BOPIS), combining the advantages of having a physical as well as an online presence. In 2019, nearly 70% of U.S. consumers said they had made multiple BOPIS purchases.

Ecommerce Shopping Cart Stats

Many ecommerce transactions are never completed because users abandon their shopping carts before finishing the checkout process. Understanding why they leave can help businesses increase revenue.

  1. An analysis of 44 studies conducted between 2006 and 2020 by the Baymard Institute found an average shopping cart abandonment rate of 69.8%, with consistently high abandonment rates every year.
  2. Many of these shopping cart abandonments are unavoidable because shoppers are just window-shopping or comparing prices. The same study by Baymard revealed 58.6% of shoppers abandoned a cart within the last three months because they were just browsing or not ready to buy.
  3. But other shoppers abandon carts because of problems with pricing, delivery or website performance, Baymard found. Among those users, 49% abandoned because of high shipping costs, taxes or fees; 24% because the site wanted them to create an account; 19% because delivery was too slow; and 18% because of a lengthy or complicated checkout process.

Consumer Ecommerce Stats

Consumers are driving much of the worldwide growth in ecommerce. They’re increasingly comfortable making big purchases online — but they expect fast, free shipping and forgiving return policies.

  1. Free and fast shipping is the No. 1 driver propelling consumers to buy more online, Walker Sands found, followed by free returns. Many consumers expect next-day or even same-day shipping. In fact, 39% said same-day shipping would make them more likely to shop online.
  2. Forty-six percent of consumers say they have become more open to purchasing an expensive item online, like a car or a grill, according to that same report. That percentage only climbs for those ages 18 to 25 (51%) and 26 to 35 (56%). A third of consumers report having browsed for cars online in the past year, and almost as many have looked for appliances online. Categories seeing the most growth in online browsing and purchase include larger, more expensive items with a negative reputation for in-store experience.
  3. Furniture is another high-value category that consumers are increasingly buying online. That’s especially true for younger buyers: 58.3% of millennials (born between 1981 and 1995), 49.2% of Gen X consumers (born between 1965 and 1980) and 36.8% of baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) are likely to buy their next piece of furniture on the internet.
  4. Among the world’s most popular ecommerce and shopping websites, the average visit duration was more than six minutes and visitors viewed more than six pages per visit.
  5. U.S. shoppers spent an estimated $201.3 billion online during the 2020 holiday season, a 45.2% increase over 2019. A surge of shoppers visited internet stores during the “Cyber 5” — the five days between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday each year when consumers expect online deals. Fifty-six percent said they shopped online on Cyber Monday, 57% on Black Friday, 54% on Thanksgiving weekend, 31% the day before Thanksgiving, and 24% on Thanksgiving Day.
  6. Still, many consumers experience frustrating website problems. During the 2020 holiday season, less than a third of consumers said every online shopping experience went well, while 44% said they suffered a slow website experience and 23% experienced a website that was broken, at least temporarily.

Social Media Stats

Social media is playing an increasingly important role in ecommerce — either directly via transactions on social media platforms, or indirectly by influencing shopper behavior.

  1. The Walker Sands survey reported that 13% of consumers were willing to spend more with a new brand or retailer if it has been promoted by a celebrity or social media influencer they follow. For consumers ages 26 to 35, that number was 22%.
  2. Most U.S. consumers use social media for discovering and considering items, rather than making purchases. Only 18.7% of buyers said they went through a social app’s checkout process to pay for their most recent purchase, while 57.8% completed their transaction on the retailer’s site, according to eMarketer.
  3. The picture is different in China, where consumers spend much of their time in social apps like WeChat that provide a host of services. As a result, China is expected to generate $315.5 billion in retail social commerce sales in 2021 — about 10 times the social media–related sales generated in the U.S, eMarketer notes.

Email Ecommerce Stats

Marketers continue to use email as a primary tool for driving online sales, and it seems consumers also like it that way.

  1. According to one survey from the Data & Marketing Association (DMA), more marketers use email (72%) than social media (55%) or online ads (35%) to attract consumers. Consumers also preferred to be contacted by email, although to a lesser extent (46%).
  2. Over half of U.S. consumers said they wanted brands to use email as the primary way to reach them, compared to only 25% who said they would rather brands contact them via social media.
  3. Marketers estimate that email marketing generates a big return in the UK — around 35 pounds for every 1 pound spent, per the DMA report — and they spend 18.9% of their budgets on email marketing. Large businesses saw higher average returns of 44-to-1, compared to about 30-to-1 for small and midsize businesses.
  4. Recipients opened about 18% of marketing emails in 2020, on average, resulting in an average click-through rate (CTR) of 2.6%, per Campaign Monitor. Only about 0.1% of recipients unsubscribed. Nonprofits, government and political organizations, financial services and educational organizations achieved some of the highest open and click-through rates.
  5. The success of an email campaign may depend on which day of the week you contact consumers. In 2020, Fridays had the highest email open rates (18.9%) and the best click-through rates (2.7%), Campaign Monitor notes. Saturdays had the lowest open (17.3%) and click-through rates (2.4%).

Ecommerce Platforms Stats

Ecommerce relies on software platforms that make it easier to build and manage online stores. Ecommerce platforms that are integrated into business software suites can help companies manage sales across multiple channels, handling a wide range of functions from inventory management and order fulfillment to calculating taxes.

  1. The global market for ecommerce software market was worth about $6.2 billion in 2019 and is forecast to have a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.3% through 2027.
  2. Online marketplaces operate the platforms that support much of global business-to-consumer (B2C) and B2B ecommerce. A total of $2.67 trillion was spent globally on the top 100 online marketplaces in 2020, per Digital Commerce 360. Many businesses buy and sell on marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay or Alibaba, accounting for 62% of global online retail sales.
  3. U.S. marketplaces accounted for $773 billion in sales in 2020, charging an average 11% sales commission, Digital Commerce 360 says. The growth of marketplace ecommerce sales is a reason many large retailers are launching their own marketplaces.

Mobile Ecommerce Stats

Smartphones have overtaken computers as the devices most commonly used for online shopping — but some consumers still feel the mobile experience is less than ideal.

  1. In 2021, mobile ecommerce is expected to account for 72.9% of all retail ecommerce, up from 58.9% in 2017. New ecommerce markets in mobile-first economies are a large driver of this trend.
  2. In one survey, 24% of consumers said used a mobile phone to shop at least weekly, more than the 23% who used a PC and 16% on tablets.
  3. Mobile ecommerce sales are expected to have a CAGR of 16.5 % through 2021, a J.P. Morgan study notes, and the spread of higher-speed 5G mobile networks may further boost mobile commerce by enabling a faster shopping experience.
  4. That same J.P. Morgan report found buyers used mobile devices for $282.8 billion in purchases. They completed more than half of those purchases ($156.3 billion) with a mobile app, and the rest via web browsers.
  5. Many shoppers still prefer to shop through desktops, though. One survey found that although 32% of shoppers completed their shopping journey on a mobile device, 22% said they don’t use a mobile device because the shopping experience is better with a PC, and 46% switched to a desktop to complete the purchase or abandoned the process due to a poor experience or security concerns.
  6. Sixty-eight percent of companies expect advanced mobile messaging apps to play a critical role in online consumer marketing within five years.

Conversion Rate Optimization Stats

Optimizing your ecommerce website to deliver a better experience can lead to higher conversion rate optimization (CRO), which is the percentage of website visitors who engage with your company online and ultimately buy products and services.

  1. The four most effective approaches to increasing conversion rates are digital analytics, A/B testing (comparing the performance of two different versions of a webpage or site), user-experience design and focusing on copywriting, according to one 2020 survey.
  2. Nearly 100% of CRO teams use A/B tests, and 38% compare the performance of more than two variants of a webpage.
  3. In one analysis of leading ecommerce websites, testers found 2,700 usability issues during the process of completing their order. The analysis suggested that the average site can increase its conversion rate by 35% simply by improving checkout design, which could translate into recovering $260 billion worth of orders that might otherwise be lost.

Customer Service Stats

The rise of ecommerce is accompanied by a rise in online customer service, which can enable companies to support bigger online sales volumes without hiring more people. But in many cases, skilled humans will still be needed to answer customers’ more complicated questions.

  1. Online customer service interactions are predicted to jump by 40% in 2021, partly due to the growth in online shopping and digital financial services.
  2. Despite the rise of AI and automation in customer service for chatbot conversations, automated answers and self-service processes, 75 percent of consumers will choose to interact with a human over automated options.
  3. Forrester attributes the increase in spending on customer service agents by $8 billion in 2020 largely to increasing demand for highly skilled agents who can command better salaries.
  4. Consumers expect brands to respond promptly to questions or complaints communicated on social media. In the U.S., 31% of respondents said they expect a response within 24 hours, and 24% expected a response within one hour. Globally the figures are even higher, at 37% and 28%, respectively.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Stats

Most consumers use online search to start their hunt for the products they’ll eventually buy. So optimizing your website’s SEO performance is crucial to driving ecommerce sales.

  1. Seventy percent of commerce journeys begin with consumers scanning online search engine results pages (SERP).
  2. Google continues to dominate the search engine market with a 92% market share as of January 2021.
  3. The top result in Google’s organic search results has an average click-through rate (CTR) of 31.7% and is 10 times more likely to receive a click than a page in the 10th spot. Moving up just one spot in the search results increases CTR by nearly 31%, and just 0.78% of Google searchers visited a link on the second page of results.
  4. As of early 2021, the average visitor spent more than 11 minutes on Google.com, and viewed almost nine pages per visit.
  5. The median CTR for paid Google search ads decreased to 1.55% in the first quarter of 2020, down 44% from the first quarter of 2019.

Shopping Traffic, Patterns, Behavior

Though a majority of all U.S. adult age groups now buy on the internet, younger people — unsurprisingly — lead the way. Buyers are becoming more comfortable buying more expensive items online as opposed to in stores. Shoppers love free return policies, but for sellers, those policies can be expensive.

  1. Nearly 86% of millennials are digital buyers, compared with 78% of Generation X and about 61% of baby boomers.
  2. Among millennials and Generation Z (born between 1995 and 2010), 68% say customer reviews are very important when making an online purchase, compared with 58% for consumers overall, according to Yotpo.
  3. What do people buy most online? In a July 2020 Yotpo survey, more people said they purchased clothes and accessories online (85%) in the last year than any other category of item. The next most popular categories were food and beverage (63%), cosmetics and skincare (52%) and home and garden (44%).
  4. Unsurprisingly, clothes and accessories were also the most frequently returned items. Shoppers said fit issues (65%) were the No. 1 reason for returning an item, per Yotpo.
  5. Companies were hit with an estimated $550 billion in return costs in 2020. Customers return online purchases at a much higher-rate than in-store ones, so retailers must find a way to mitigate the expense of returns as the volume keeps increasing.
  6. Though a significant number of households have purchased smart speakers, far fewer use them to regularly make purchases online. An estimated 30.7 million people in the U.S. used smart speakers for shopping in 2020, but only 22.7 million actually followed through with at least one purchase via voice during the year. That represents 11.1% of total ecommerce buyers. And most of those people are only dabbling — just 2% of shoppers regularly used voice shopping.

Payment Stats

U.S. buyers still mainly use debit and credit cards for ecommerce purchases, but the picture is different in other countries.

  1. Worldwide, buyers used digital and mobile wallet payments for 41.8% of online transaction volume in 2019. Online wallets were most popular in the Asia-Pacific region, as they were used in more than 58% of ecommerce transactions
  2. In the U.S., debit and credit cards were used for 82% of online purchases in 2019. Debit cards accounted for 42% of ecommerce purchases. Half of U.S. consumers have adopted at least one online payment method, such as PayPal, Venmo or Zelle.

Impacts of COVID-19

Ecommerce exploded when the pandemic hit, as brick-and-mortar outlets were forced to close and shoppers practiced social distancing. Many customers who started shopping online during that time may continue to buy online over the long term. Ecommerce sales increased dramatically for many items that were previously purchased largely or mostly in stores, including groceries and home furnishings.

  1. The COVID-19-related boost in online shopping resulted in an additional $174.9 billion in U.S. ecommerce revenue in 2020, Digital Commerce 360 says, accelerating the growth of ecommerce by an estimated two years.
  2. Adjusted for seasonal variation, ecommerce sales rose 31.9% during the second quarter of 2020 compared to the first quarter, according to the Department of Commerce. Online sales were also up 44.5% year-over-year in the second quarter.
  3. Consumers worldwide have increased their mobile shopping since the outbreak, and most said they’re likely to maintain that increased use over time. In China and the Middle East, 60% and 58% of respondents, respectively, are doing more shopping with their phones according to a PwC survey.
  4. About a quarter of brick-and-mortar stores launched ecommerce stores as a result of COVID-19, one survey of nearly 200 retailers found.
  5. Food and beverages increased ecommerce sales more than any other category. As people explored new ways to eat at home, market research firm eMarketer increased its 2020 forecast by 41.3% for online food and beverage sales, to a total of $45.5 billion.
  6. Globally, 63% of respondents to the PwC survey said they were buying more groceries online or by phone than before social distancing measures were introduced, and 86% said they would probably continue doing so after those measures are lifted.
  7. U.S. consumer electronics ecommerce sales soared, reaching an estimated $179.4 billion — about 20% higher than previously expected — as people spent more time at home and relied on online services for work, school or recreation, eMarketer notes. Furniture and home furnishings also surged to $92.3 billion, $15.5 billion higher than the pre-pandemic forecast, as homeowners spent more time on home improvement.
  8. However, the pandemic’s impact on the travel industry was brutal. U.S. travel spending fell by an unprecedented 42% in 2020. Because most travel is booked online, eMarketer decreased its estimate for the travel industry’s 2020 ecommerce sales by nearly $100 billion, to just $115.3 billion.

Ecommerce is growing rapidly and steadily transforming B2B and retail sales worldwide. It’s a vital sales channel for many businesses, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tracking ecommerce statistics can help businesses understand trends in customer buying behavior and how to increase revenue.

Ecommerce FAQs

How well are the ecommerce statistics doing today?

Retail ecommerce sales are rising quickly. Consumers spent more than $860 billion online with U.S. retailers in 2020, 44% more than in 2019.

What percent of sales is ecommerce?

In the U.S., ecommerce accounted for 14% of all retail sales in the fourth quarter of 2020. That’s up from 11.3% in the fourth quarter of 2019.

What are the statistics of online shopping?

Online shopping is growing rapidly worldwide. Ecommerce is forecast to account for more than $6.5 trillion in worldwide sales by 2023, representing 22% of all global retail sales.

How big is the ecommerce industry?

Global retail ecommerce sales rose 27.6% during 2020, largely because of the COVID-19 pandemic, reaching an estimated worldwide total of more than $4.2 trillion.

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