As Internet use matures globally, annual growth in eCommerce between businesses and consumers will slow, settling at about 10% by 2018, according to eMarketer, which says such B2C sales will reach $1.47 trillion in 2014, up 20 percent from last year.
By 2018, the company projects, the total will reach $2.36 trillion, a 61 percent boost over the 2014 year-end projection and $200 billion in annual new dollars spent. eMarketer defines B2C eCommerce as sales that include all products and services ordered or booked via the Internet on any device, including leisure and unmanaged business travel.
Regionally, the combined spending of the U.S. and Canada will remain on top in B2C eCommerce sales this year, representing about one-third of the dollars spent on digital purchases worldwide, the company said in its forecast report. It previous had predicted that Asia-Pacific would surpass North America in market share, but it changed that view because of unanticipated slower growth in China’s B2C eCommerce spending caused by market maturation.
“With China accounting for a significant portion of eCommerce sales in Asia-Pacific, this affected our estimates materially,” the research company said. Instead, eMarketer expects the region to take the global lead in B2C eCommerce sales next year, when it will achieve a 33.4 percent share to North America’s 31.7 percent and Western Europe’s 24.6 percent.
“These three regions combined will continue to take around 90% of the global eCommerce market throughout our forecast period,” eMarketer said.
A growing base of digital buyers will help boost eCommerce sales in Asia-Pacific, as more new buyers come online. However, by 2018, nearly 70% of Internet users in both Western Europe and North America will purchase items on digital devices compared with just more than 50 percent in Asia-Pacific, eMarketer said.
“Buyer penetration in Asia-Pacific translates to the largest number of consumers, but the region is far more fragmented than North America and Western Europe,” the company noted. “In the latter two regions, eCommerce continues to grow at double-digit rates and will do so for several more years.”
In such large markets, this illustrates that individual buyers are making purchases more frequently and with higher order values, and consumer behaviors are relatively consistent across countries in both regions, the company said.
However, across Asia-Pacific countries, consumer behaviors are more disparate. China alone will make up more than half the region’s eCommerce sales this year, jumping to 70 percent by 2018, eMarketer said, which noted Australia and Japan rival markets like the U.S., UK and Western Europe in buyer penetration and average order values.
“On the other hand, in less-mature markets like India and Indonesia, there are large absolute numbers of digital buyers, but many are new to the market,” the company said. “Instead of buying high-ticket items, new digital buyers tend to wet their feet with less costly purchases due to product availability or simply to income constraints.”
A report published last month during the Global E-commerce Summit in Barcelona found Europe B2C eCommerce last year grew by 16.3 percent year over year to €363.1 billion (US$486.1 billion). The report predicted 17.2 percent growth this year, to €425.5 billion, eventually growing to €625 billion by 2016. The European e-commerce figures were compiled with various national eCommerce associations and in cooperation with GfK.
The growth is going to accelerate due to higher spending in mature countries and increase of the number of transactions in emerging markets, the report found.