Finder makes money from featured partners, but editorial opinions are our own. Advertiser disclosure

The new state of retail: E-commerce stats 2020

Breaking down the data in consumer trends, sales growth and top marketplaces.

About 90% of the US population reports using the Internet, according to a 2019 Statista report. As growth in e-commerce continues to rise, there’s a lot to consider. For example, how much do online marketplaces sell — and what are people buying? What makes or breaks an online purchase in the eyes of a consumer?

We run the numbers on digital commerce and marketplaces in the US and abroad to shed light on what’s in store for the electronic economy.

Growth in the e-commerce retail market

Retail e-commerce sales continue to climb year over year. In 2012, the US Department of Commerce reported total sales for e-commerce retailers at $229 billion. Just five years later, that figure had doubled.

Projected growth for e-commerce retail sales — including digital services — is expected to reach a staggering $969 billion by 2023.

YearRetail sales
2012$229 billion
2013$261 billion
2014$298 billion
2015$340 billion
2016$389 billion
2017$461 billion
2018$514 billion
2019$586 billion

Source: Statista

How many people work in the e-commerce industry?

As the digital economy continues to thrive, so too do the jobs it generates. From 1997 to 2016, employment in the digital shopping economy grew by nearly 80%, with 380,100 people working in e-commerce retail by 2016. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates that figure will rise to 450,000 by 2026.

YearNumber of people working in the e-commerce industry

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

What types of jobs make up the e-commerce workforce?

So, who’s doing what? The e-commerce workforce relies heavily on customer service reps, while order fillers and shipping and receiving clerks also play pivotal roles. These three positions are anticipated to generate the most opportunity for employment, with a combined projected growth of 19,000 additional jobs by 2026.

OccupationEmployment 2016
Customer service reps52,500
Shipping and receiving clerks26,900
Order fillers16,500
Retail sales reps16,200
Freight, stock and material movers14,600
Market research analysts7,700
Order clerks19,600
General managers8,100
Software developers4,900
Web developers4,300
Delivery service drivers3,200

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016

What are Americans buying online?

Smartphone users made up 65% of US retail site traffic and 46% of online shopping orders in 2019, says Statista. People are shopping on the go and from the palm of their hand — but what are they purchasing?

The leading e-commerce product category is clothing, with shoe purchases hot on its heels. Electronics, books, movies, music, games and cosmetics also rank well, with stationery, garden and pet supplies pulling up the rear.

CategoryPercentage of online buyers
Books, movies, music and games36%
Cosmetics and body care32%
Bags and accessories29%
Food and drink28%
Household appliances27%
Furniture and household goods19%
Sports and outdoor18%
Toys and baby products18%
Stationery and hobby supplies17%
DIY, garden and pets13%

Source: Statista, 2019

Top online marketplaces

While Amazon is a household staple in the US, it’s not the No. 1 online marketplace in the world. Amazon’s gross merchandise volume in 2018, a tidy $344 billion USD, took third place to Chinese marketplace platforms Tmall and Taobao, which rang in $432 billion and $515 billion, respectively.

In the US, however, ubiquitous Amazon is the most popular online marketplace, followed by competitors eBay, and

MarketplaceShare of marketplace site visits
Sam’s Club0.8%

Source: Statista, 2018

Leading social media shopping platforms

Blocking out a social media strategy for your business? Don’t neglect Pinterest.

A 2019 Statista survey found that 47% of respondents say they use Pinterest more often to shop for products — a rate Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat are nowhere near approaching.

Social media platformPercentage of users shopping for products

Source: Statista, 2019

Shopping cart abandonment rates worldwide

With the availability of e-commerce marketplaces on our computers, tablets and mobile devices, online shopping is as accessible and convenient as ever. What might surprise you is how many of those digital shopping carts we abandon at checkout.

Rates of digital window shopping peaked in 2012, with nearly 72% of online purchases left incomplete. While rates aren’t as high as they were in 2012, they continue to stay between 60% and 70% — which is perhaps why cart abandonment strategies for online merchants, like email reminders to check out, have become so popular.

YearShopping cart abandonment rate

Source: Statista

Why digital shoppers leave their carts at checkout

If you’ve ever ditched your cart at checkout, you know there can be several factors at play. A 2018 Statista survey discovered that most shoppers in the US say they abandon their carts due to high shipping rates, followed by faulty discount codes and lengthy shipping times.

Reason shoppers abandon their cartsShare of respondents
Shipping is too expensive63%
Discount code doesn’t work46%
Order would take too long to ship36%
Have to re-enter credit card info30%
Have to re-enter shipping info25%

Source: Statista, 2018

What encourages consumers to purchase more online?

If expensive shipping can deter a sale, it’s unsurprising that US consumers report fast, free shipping as a perk most likely to secure their purchase.

Customers are also more likely to buy from merchants that offer free return policies and high-quality customer service.

Reason shoppers want to buy onlineShare of respondents
Free and fast shipping80%
Easy and free return policy57%
Quality customer service42%
Brand reputation39%
Customizable products35%
Risk-free trial period33%
Buy online and pick up in person30%
Product reviews25%
Access to product experts13%

Source: Statista, 2018

Richard Laycock headshot

For all media inquiries, please contact:

Richard Laycock, Insights editor and senior content marketing manager


/in/richardlaycock/ /aleksvee/

Shannon Terrell's headshot

Shannon Terrell is a lead writer and spokesperson at NerdWallet and a former editor at Finder, specializing in personal finance. Her writing and analysis on investing and banking has been featured in Bloomberg, Global News, Yahoo Finance, GoBankingRates and Black Enterprise. She holds a bachelor’s degree in communications and English literature from the University of Toronto Mississauga. See full bio

's expertise
has written 174 Finder guides across topics including:
  • Share trading
  • Robo-advisors
  • Merchant services

More guides on Finder

Ask a Question provides guides and information on a range of products and services. Because our content is not financial advice, we suggest talking with a professional before you make any decision.

By submitting your comment or question, you agree to our Privacy and Cookies Policy and Terms of Use.

Questions and responses on are not provided, paid for or otherwise endorsed by any bank or brand. These banks and brands are not responsible for ensuring that comments are answered or accurate.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Go to site