E-commerce on the rise
As internet access and adoption are rapidly increasing worldwide, the number of digital buyers keeps climbing every year. In 2020, over two billion people purchased goods or services online, and during the same year, e-retail sales surpassed 4.2 trillion U.S. dollars worldwide. In the year of the pandemic, global retail e-commerce sales grew with more than 25 percent, with Argentina reporting the higher percentage growth.
Market leaders in the world of e-commerce
Internet users can choose from various online platforms to browse, compare, and purchase the items or services they need. While some websites specifically target B2B (business-to-business) clients, individual consumers are also presented with a vast number of digital possibilities. As of 2019, online marketplaces account for the largest share of online purchases worldwide. Leading the global ranking of online retail websites in terms of traffic is Amazon: The Seattle-based e-commerce giant that offers e-retail, computing services, consumer electronics, and digital content registered over 5.2 billion unique visitors in June 2020. In terms of gross merchandise value (GMV), however, Amazon ranks third behind Chinese competitors Taobao and Tmall. Both platforms are operated by the Alibaba Group, the leading online commerce provider in Asia.
Shopping traffic and sessions
Mobile is boosting e-commerce traffic
One of the most visible trends in the world of e-commerce is the unprecedented usage of mobile devices. In 2021, smartphones accounted for almost 70 percent of all retail website visits worldwide, although desktop and tablet visits generated higher conversion rates in 2020. As the adoption of mobile devices is progressing at a rapid pace, especially in regions that lack other digital infrastructure, mobile integration will continue to shape the shopping experience of the future. M-commerce is particularly popular across Asia, with countries like South Korea generating up to 65 percent of their total online transaction volume via mobile traffic.
The complex customer journey
A series of online actions precede the actual purchase. Survey data showed that one in two online shoppers browsed Amazon platforms or search engines to get inspiration or to actively start searching for products. A significant number of online consumers used to read up to six product reviews before making purchase decisions. Customers might start the checkout process but leave the web page and not completing the purchase. In 2020, the average online abandonment rate of shopping cart amounted to slightly less than 90 percent.
How shoppers pay online
Credit and debit cards were the most popular payment methods for online shoppers, although with some regional differences. Payment providers like PayPal or Alipay were preferred by a higher percentage of online shoppers in Europe. In terms of transaction volume, digital and mobile wallet payments accounted for the biggest share of online transactions worldwide, being used especially in the Asia-Pacific region.
Spotlight: impact of COVID-19
Impact of COVID-19
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to have a significant influence on e-commerce and online consumer behavior around the world. As millions of people stayed home in early 2020 to contain the spread of the virus, digital channels have become the most popular alternative to crowded stores and in-person shopping. In June 2020, global retail e-commerce traffic stood at a record 22 billion monthly visits, with demand being exceptionally high for everyday items such as groceries, clothing, but also retail tech items. How online usage, purchasing habits, and the overall future of e-commerce and the global retail industry will look like in 2021 and beyond will largely depend on the further progression of COVID-19.
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