China to Eclipse U.S. as Top E-Commerce Market

New data predict the emergence of China as the world’s largest e-commerce market, with the U.S. trailing behind at No. 2. But, as the research at eMarketer shows, the numbers show a very different story about the retail markets in each nation.

In its first-ever forecast of global retail, eMarketer is expecting a steady increase in sales across the world – and a steadily-expanding percentage of those sales are coming from the Internet.

E-commerce is on track to account for 5.9 percent of the worlds total retail sales, but eMarketer expects that figure to grow to 8.8 percent by 2014 – nearing towards $2.5 trillion in sales across the globe. It’s just a small percentage of total sales, which is expected to his $22.492 trillion this year, eMarketer found, but thanks to e-commerce markets in China and the U.S., online retail is becoming a crucial addition to retail.

According to reports, the Chinese and U.S. e-commerce markets account for a combined 55 percent of global Internet retail sales. But with China’s attention turning to e-commerce innovation – largely accelerated by the record-breaking IPO of Alibaba – eMarketer predicts China will account for more than 40 percent of global Internet retail, exceeding $1 trillion in sales by 2018.

The U.S., meanwhile, will maintain its second-place position in the world’s e-commerce leaders in 2018, and the U.K. will come in at third place, eMarketer says.

The predictive data suggest, eMarketer says, that despite a strengthening position of e-commerce, in the U.S. the numbers demonstrate the strength of brick-and-mortar retail. While about 63 percent of the population in the U.S. are expected to have made a purchase online in 2014, still only 6.5 percent of all sales in the country will come from the Internet.

In other words, more than $10 out of every $11 are spent in stores by U.S. consumers, eMarketer found.

In China, however, more than 10 percent of all sales stem from the Internet, despite only 27.5 percent of China’s population expected to make an online purchase in 2014. This shows, eMarketer says, that online buyers in China make frequent purchases.

What’s more, while U.K. shoppers only account for the world’s eighth-largest in all retail sales, the nation ranks third in e-commerce because 73 percent of its population are making online purchases and account for 13 percent of all sales stemming from online this year.



The September 2020 Leveraging The Digital Banking Shift Study, PYMNTS examines consumers’ growing use of online and mobile tools to open and manage accounts as well as the factors that are paramount in building and maintaining trust in the current economic environment. The report is based on a survey of nearly 2,200 account-holding U.S. consumers.

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