Global e-commerce has expanded almost exponentially in the twenty-first century. In 2010, the U.S. spent almost $153 billion on online retail sales while the European Union spent almost $163 billion that same year. In both places, the biggest expenditures were on electronics. Electronics in the U.S. accounted for 23% of purchases and in the E.U. it was 25%. The Asia-Pacific market spent $81 billion in sales in 2010 with 21% of those purchases on electronics. In 2010, the world retail market grew by 18%.
In 2012, over one trillion dollars was spent worldwide on online sales, up 21.99% from 2011. U.S. online shoppers alone spent over $225 billion dollars that year which was 15% more than the previous year. Online sales in the U.S. accounted for almost 30% of the world’s online sales in 2012.
While the U.S. accounts for the most online purchases, it is closely followed by the U.K. and then Japan; however, online shopping is quickly expanding in China whose purchases accounted for 14% of online sales in the world in 2012. In 2011, China’s online sales increased 130% over the previous year and it is believed they will lead the world in online purchases in the future.
The average online shopper in China does not spend as much as shoppers in the west. The average Chinese online shopper will only spend an average of $670 a year while shoppers in the U.K. will spend an average of $3,878. Shoppers in the U.K. spend more per year on online sales primarily because of purchases of food and apparel. The sale of grocery items in the U.K. doubled between 2008 and 2012.
Following the U.K. in per household e-commerce expenditures is Australia, followed by Norway, the U.S. and then Denmark. The number of internet users continues to grow. In 2011 there were over 2 billion in the world.
By region, in 2013, North America accounted for 31.5% of worldwide online sales according to E-Marketer. The Asia-Pacific region accounted for 33.4%, Western Europe 25.7%, Eastern Europe 3.9%, Latin America 3.5% and the Middle East and Africa 2.1%. The number of online shoppers in China, however, is expected to exceed 440 million by 2016 primarily because retail marketers have not set up brick and mortar stores in smaller towns and cities throughout China making online purchasing the most convenient means of shopping.
According to the US Census Bureau, the estimate for third quarter e-commerce sales in 2013 was sixty-seven billion dollars which was an increase of 3.6% from the second quarter, and a 17.5% increase from the third quarter in 2012 which accounted for 5.9% of total sales in the country.
e-commerce in the US was up an estimated 13.4% in 2013 over 2012; however, only 4 million new online shoppers were added this year meaning that the majority of money spent will come from more experienced users. New customers to online sales usually start small buying CDs and books before moving to more high-dollar purchases. Because of the increase in the mobile market, shoppers are able to access the internet anywhere at any time. The use of on-line technologies change the way businesses work and this is the most evident in the U.S. and Sweden.
As confidence in global e-commerce and online payment processing solutions grow, online purchases will also grow. The majority of sales are attributed to experienced online shoppers, not new online shoppers who tend to spend conservatively on small-ticket items such as CDs and E-books. As online shoppers’ age, the amount of their online purchases increases.