E-commerce in the United States - Statistics & Facts

E-commerce is defined as the buying and selling of products or services exclusively through electronic channels. There are three main branches of electronic commerce; the most well-known form being online shopping, also known as business to consumer (B2C). Here individuals can order various products and pay for their purchase via internet. Another category of e-commerce is business to business (B2B), where companies, such as manufacturers, wholesalers or retailers exchange products and/or services. The third category of e-commerce involves transactions from consumer to consumer (C2C), as in the example of eBay, Etsy or other similar websites.


The e-commerce market in the United States has been constantly evolving over the past decade. Retail e-commerce sales in the United States are projected to grow at a fast pace in the coming years, going from 322.17 billion U.S. dollars in 2016 to just over 485 billion US dollars in 2021. Amazon is by far the most popular e-retailer in the United States. Amazon also ranks ahead of the pack in terms of U.S. e-retail sales - in 2016, the company generated over 46.66 billion U.S. dollars via e-commerce sales of physical goods in the United States. Amazon also has the most popular mobile shopping apps in the country in terms of reach and monthly users. Other successful online retailers include eBay – which was ranked as the most popular online marketplace by online sellers in the U.S. – Wal-Mart, Apple Sites and Target.

Customer satisfaction with online retail in the U.S. is relatively high. However, online sales still represent only a small share of all retail sales in the U.S. – about 8.3 percent as of the fourth quarter of 2016. Nonetheless, an estimate of 77 percent of internet users in the United States, representing 67 percent of the entire population, had purchased products online in 2016. In the same year, 42 percent of internet users in the U.S. stated purchasing items via internet at least once a month, and nearly a quarter said they shopped online once or twice per week. American customers often prefer buying books and electronics online. Amazon or other third-party online retailers and the brand’s website are also common channels used by internet users to shop for clothing and apparel items.

A growing trend within the e-commerce market in the United States is the rise of mobile shopping. In 2016, it was estimated that around 136 million users have made at least one purchase via web browser or mobile app on their mobile devices. The number of mobile buyers in the country is projected to reach 168.7 million by 2020. This large base of mobile buyers has an impact on mobile commerce revenue. Mobile retail revenue in the United States is expected to rise from nearly 115.9 billion U.S. dollars in 2016 to about 335.8 billion U.S. dollars in 2020. M-commerce is also becoming predominant in the e-commerce industry, as mobile sales accounted for an estimate of 29 percent of the total U.S. digital commerce spending in 2016. This share is forecast to jump to 48.5 percent by 2020. Within the mobile market, customers began to turn to proximity mobile payment and mobile payment apps or digital wallets, such as Android Pay and Apple Pay, for payments, non-traditional payment options that are forecast to gain momentum in the next few years.

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