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.
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.
|Year||Number 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.
|Customer service reps||52,500|
|Shipping and receiving clerks||26,900|
|Retail sales reps||16,200|
|Freight, stock and material movers||14,600|
|Market research analysts||7,700|
|Delivery service drivers||3,200|
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.
|Category||Percentage of online buyers|
|Books, movies, music and games||36%|
|Cosmetics and body care||32%|
|Bags and accessories||29%|
|Food and drink||28%|
|Furniture and household goods||19%|
|Sports and outdoor||18%|
|Toys and baby products||18%|
|Stationery and hobby supplies||17%|
|DIY, garden and pets||13%|
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, Walmart.com and Target.com.
|Marketplace||Share of marketplace site visits|
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 platform||Percentage 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.
|Year||Shopping cart abandonment rate|
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 carts||Share of respondents|
|Shipping is too expensive||63%|
|Discount code doesn’t work||46%|
|Order would take too long to ship||36%|
|Have to re-enter credit card info||30%|
|Have to re-enter shipping info||25%|
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 online||Share of respondents|
|Free and fast shipping||80%|
|Easy and free return policy||57%|
|Quality customer service||42%|
|Risk-free trial period||33%|
|Buy online and pick up in person||30%|
|Access to product experts||13%|
Source: Statista, 2018
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