ecommerce statistics

If you run a small store, you may wonder why ecommerce statistics would be important to you.

The thing is, ecommerce is changing so rapidly, sometimes it helps to zoom out and study the larger trends.

So here’s what could be in it for you: ideas about your next marketing campaign, what to expect in terms of sales targets for the year, or new techniques that will help you boost conversions.

We’re going to cover a lot of ground today, so let’s get started! As you’ll see, the stats are grouped into the following categories:

The Global Ecommerce Market

Global online sales had been on a steady increase for the past few years, and the trend has been accelerated by the COVID-19 crisis. People stayed at home and couldn’t access retail shops. Online stores delivered. The global ecommerce market is still on an uptrend.

Ecommerce Will Soon Be The Most Common Way to Buy

According to some forecasters, 95% of all purchases will be done online by the year 2040. As mobile devices and even the IoT (Internet of Things) make it easier than ever to buy items on-demand, consumers sure seem to enjoy frictionless digital purchases.

This will contribute to the growing sum of ecommerce sales worldwide, set to culminate in a $4.9T market in 2021.

Retail ecommerce sales worldwide

China Eclipses Every Other Market

The top 10 largest ecommerce markets in the world, as compiled by Business.com, are:

  • China: $672 billion
  • USA: $340 billion
  • United Kingdom: $99 billion
  • Japan: $79 billion
  • Germany: $73 billion
  • France: $43 billion
  • South Korea: $37 billion
  • Canada: $30 billion
  • Russia: $20 billion
  • Brazil: $19 billion

Interestingly, while most of the Western world is dominated by one retailing giant (more on that later), the enormous Chinese market is pretty much split between Alibaba (59% of the market), JD (17% of the market) and other retailers. As a side note, Alibaba went public on the US stock exchange in 2014 (and its stock has tripled since).

But the most interesting thing is that where the shop is located might not be so relevant anymore. This is because….

Shoppers Increasingly Buy Internationally

The ecommerce marketplace has increasingly porous borders. As delivery and transport logistics become more efficient than ever, a growing number of shoppers are looking further afield for their purchases.

According to a report by Nielsen (you’ll need to download it here), 57% of worldwide shoppers (on average) made a purchase from an overseas retailer in 2019.

Online shoppers who make purchases from overseas retailers

The Elephant In The Room – Amazon

Impossible to talk about global ecommerce without mentioning the retail giant Amazon. As a small business owner, you may have your gripes with it. But the truth is that Amazon sets the rules for the ecommerce game, and that you need to keep a close watch on what happens with Bezos’s behemoth.

Still The Number 1 Ecommerce Store In The World By Far

The number two in the battle of the platform giants is Alibaba, the Chinese retailer, which generated $39.9B in sales in 2018. Amazon, meanwhile, reached $232B!

Prime Delivery Is Transforming Customer Expectations

One of the key selling points of Amazon is the Prime membership, which offers priority shopping along with a few other perks.

There are now 95M Amazon Prime members in the US alone, and this efficiency when it comes to receiving your packages is what your store will be up against. Delivery time is increasingly becoming the battleground where sales are won or lost, so how can smaller online stores compete against free next-day delivery?

Their Return Policy Is Also a Game Changer

Another advantage of controlling the delivery logistics and making that much money: you can be more flexible with your return policy.

According to RetailDive, 88% of shoppers want the ability to return a purchase, and 95% of them claim a smooth return process will turn them into repeat buyers. Amazon’s lax 30-day return policy is certainly influencing how your customers think about purchases – make sure you’re very clear in your own policies to avoid disappointing your customers.

Holiday Sales – Discounts and Special Deals

At the time of writing, it’s still too early to say if 2020’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday event (BFCM) will be as successful as predicted. But for ecommerces, holiday sales have become a sure bet (and also a stressful time of the year). Here are some interesting stats:

BFCM Is Growing Every Year

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are two of the biggest events in the online shopping calendar.  BCFM sales have been increasing by around 19% year-on-year, and retailers are preparing for a huge uptick in orders this holiday season.

Don’t Forget to Keep an Eye on Prime Day

Here we go again with Amazon, but as a small or medium online store owner, you’d be crazy to spend money on marketing in mid-October. Amazon is now forcing its Prime day discounts and sucking all the air out of online stores in early fall.

And it works: in 2020, the company reported $3.5B in sales, a nearly 60% year-over-year increase for Prime day profits.

Online Store Platforms

We’ve previously gathered some interesting statistics about Shopify and WooCommerce, and the numbers haven’t changed all that dramatically in late 2020. But here are nevertheless some interesting statistics that help understand where they fit within the larger picture of online store platforms.

WooCommerce Still Rules Ecommerce Websites

It covers a whopping 76% of the plugin market (all categories combined), which is impressive, even when you consider that WordPress runs pretty much a third of all websites in the world. But considering that Automattic, the WordPress.com parent company, owns WooCommerce, this is a bit less surprising.

woocommerce market share

If you’re curious about the second leader, Ecwid, it’s a plugin that lets you add an online store module to any website. It’s interesting to see how popular it is, considering it’s not exactly a household name, unlike, say, Shopify. Speaking of which…

Shopify – Taking The World By Storm?

According to our research, Shopify was the only provider to be trending in every continent, with particular strongholds in North America, Africa, Australasia and Southeast Asia.

Ecommerce Systems Around The World small

While the online store platform was traditionally focused on the US and Canada (which subsequently extended to other English-speaking countries), in 2018 the company began aggressively targeting the rest of the world.

There are now 6 new languages available on the Shopify platform: French, German, Spanish, Italian, Brazilian Portuguese, and Japanese. Shopify Payments, (a killer selling point if you want to avoid paying more on card transaction fees), is now also available in more countries, and hundreds of currencies are available already.

Oh, also, their stock rose up 270% amidst the pandemic.

Magento Delivers Ecommerce Solutions For The Big Brands

This won’t come as a surprise to anyone, but Magento is still the number one ecommerce solution for big name brands in a variety of verticals, such as Olympus, 3M, Nike or Ford.

magento usage statistics

It’s unlikely any of these companies would suddenly switch to Shopify after building a whole infrastructure for Magento, but there has nevertheless been a noticeable decline in usage between 2019 – 2020.

Mobile Sales – Don’t Miss Out

So far, we’ve already established that consumers are purchasing online more than ever. But what about their favoured devices?

Well, it turns out that smartphones are increasingly used for online shopping. And neglecting these devices could have terrible consequences for your store.

Nearly Half of Purchases Come From Mobile

According to OuterBox, mobile traffic became as prevalent as desktop traffic back in 2015, but a whopping 40% of holiday sales in 2018, for instance, were made directly from smartphones.

A Poor Mobile UX Will Kill Your Store

Another crazy statistic, 62% of users who have had a bad experience with mobile purchases will look elsewhere. At least that’s according to Google’s own research, which you can read about here.

Mobile Site or App? Why Not Both!

When we talk about mobile purchases, we should also mention the difference between in-app purchases and mobile sites or progressive web apps (PWAs).

According to Google, it doesn’t matter so much whether you sell via a dedicated app or use an optimized mobile site. The lines are increasingly blurry between the two, and the key takeaway is to ensure that your site loads fast, that the user experience is top-notch, and that the content is useful.

Marketing Channels – How Should You Support Buyers

There’s a reason brick and mortar shops still do well: customer service and sales assistants. They’re there to help buyers, guide them (and yes, sometimes upsell or cross-sell products). How should you do it in the digital age?

Instagram is A Serious Discovery Tool

Take the stat with a pinch of salt because it comes straight from Facebook, but 83% of people say Instagram helped them discover new products and services.

It certainly aligns with what other marketing companies have found, as GlobalWebIndex says 70% of Instagram users are more likely to make online purchases on their mobile devices. Similarly, 44% of Instagram users have claimed that they used social media to conduct brand research. No wonder the engagement between users and brands is 10 times greater on Instagram than Facebook.

The Power of Messaging Apps

Live chat is going strong for online stores. According to Facebook themselves, 61% of US consumers have messaged a business directly in the last 3 months. You can’t beat the speed, efficiency and convenience of talking to a business directly from your phone or desktop.

Live Chat and ChatBots for Automated Response

While chatbots are more useful for support than actually buying something, the intelligent customer experience platform Narvar reports that 29% of US online shoppers use them for purchases.

If you have never set up a live chatbot before, it’s actually a lot easier than you may think.

Email Marketing is Still King for Cart Recovery

According to SaleCycle, the global cart abandonment rate in late 2018 was 76.9%. That’s a lot of orders that aren’t completed! And the three key reasons are a high delivery fee, too much friction when you need to create an account, or a complex checkout process. These were the top answers given to Baymard institute, showing once again that a frictionless checkout experience is primordial.

But how do you recover these lost carts? Email marketing is still the best method. According to Moosend, (who, we should acknowledge, could be biased) the open rate for abandoned cart emails reached upwards of 40%!

Customer Reviews

As our research has shown, pretty much all online shoppers (approx. 95%) read reviews. However, if your website has a section for customer reviews you need to make sure there is something to show as 92% of customers hesitate to buy if there are zero reviews. We could even find out how many reviews you need: 5 or more reviews make all the difference when deciding to buy or not to buy.

Online Fraud – Ecommerce’s Dirty Secret

Let’s end with statistics on an unfortunate topic: the growing problem of fraud. Seeing how it’s a growing concern, chances are you’ve had to deal with fraudulent users at some point or another. Here’s where it’s headed according to the numbers.

Chargebacks Remain Costly

The most common type of e-commerce fraud is chargeback fraud, which happens when a customer tells their card company they did not make a purchase. It’s usually a lie, which gives them a free item, their money back, and ends up costing you money, as you have to foot the chargeback fees. This is expected to cost online retailers $130B by 2023.

In fact, it’s estimated that every dollar lost to fraud ends up costing organizations up to $3 in costs.

Keep an Eye on Return Fraud

Return fraud is also a growing problem, and one that many retailers blame on Amazon’s lax return policies (see above for more info). The online giant makes it easier than ever to return items, which some shoppers abuse for their own purposes (wardrobing, for instance, where they buy clothing, wear it once, with the intention of returning it later). 1 in 5 UK shoppers admits to having done it. This explains in part why return rates continue to grow (expected to reach 10% by 2022 according to Deloitte)

Account Takeover is Also on the Rise

An account takeover or ATO attack happens when fraudsters use your customers’ accounts. They can either find the login details via phishing or from data leaks bought on the darknet. Either ways, it looks bad for online stores, creating a loss of trust, not to mention time and effort in customer support.

While this used to be a big problem in online gaming and digital wallets, we’re seeing more and more attacks on online stores, which cost retailers $9B in lost profits in 2019.

Ecommerce Statistics of 2020 – The Key Takeaways

So what can we conclude after poring over the data? Here are five actionable tips you could use for your own ecommerce:

  • Make user experience as seamless as possible. Shoppers will turn to your competitors at the first sign of an obstacle, from a complex checkout to strict return policy.
  • But don’t be too care-free: fraudsters are increasingly targeting small online stores, so don’t think your size will allow you to stay under their radar.
  • Multichannel communication is the way to go: ideally, you need to master email marketing, implement chatbots and ensure your business is easy to communicate with, whichever way customers like to.
  • Stay positive: if there’s one silver lining to all the obstacles faced by online store owners, it’s that ecommerce shows no sign of slowing down. If you can find your niche, sell great stuff and keep customers happy, you’ll put all the odds in your favour.

Here’s hoping for a great ecommerce year in 2021!

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