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E-commerce is a big deal nowadays. You already know that, but when you see some of the numbers, you’ll find they’re jaw-dropping.

Understanding the scope of e-commerce is important, as is understanding its many nuances.

Luckily for us, e-commerce is widely studied, so there’s a ton of research about it. The problem?

Some of that research is outdated, and some of it isn’t very good. And, there’s so much, I can sometimes be hard to find the relevant facts.

But hey — don’t worry! I’ve dug deep to find the most reliable stats, trends, and insights on e-commerce around!

I’ll start us off with a BIG fact that will really put the scope of e-commerce in perspective:

Item #1: There will be over 2 BILLION online customers by 2020.

It’s best to start things off with one of the biggest stats: if current trends continue (and there’s no reason they won’t), we’re looking at over 2 billion online buyers by 2020.

growth of online customers

Interpret this how you will criticize the research to your heart’s content…but ask yourself one question:

If this were HALF-true, and there were going to be “only” a billion online buyers next year, would you still take it seriously?

And the answer, I find, is undoubtedly yes.

There can be no doubt the future of commerce is e-commerce.

Item #2: In 2019, nearly 70% of shopping carts are abandoned.

Though to be honest, that figure isn’t unique to 2019. Take a look:

shopping cart abandonment rate

As you can see, for over a decade, most carts get abandoned. And since 2011, that number has been pretty close to 70%, with 2019 measuring out so far at a 69.57% abandonment rate.

This explains the usefulness of the “abandoned cart saver” feature delivered by some e-commerce site builders like Shopify or BigCommerce.

Don’t give up hope, though. Because it’s not a mystery why there are such high abandonment rates…

Item #3: …most of those carts are abandoned because of unexpected extra costs.

Yep, most of those carts get abandoned because of surprise costs — stuff like shipping or service fees that weren’t previously mentioned.

But that’s far from the only reason:

reasons for abandoned carts

True, surprise extra costs are the biggest reason by a significant margin.

But other stuff like overcomplicated checkouts — are a big one.

I personally count the second item on this graph as more or less fitting into the third item…in that case, you could say that overcomplicated or drawn-out checkout processes are as big a factor in cart abandonment as extra costs are.

Baymard, which discovered this stat, actually has some supporting evidence on the importance of a simple checkout…

Item #4: The simpler a checkout, the better.

This evidence is a bit biased though — it comes from PayPal, and it’s really just a piece of evidence in favor of PayPal.

Here’s the figure:

paypal conversion rate

Apparently, PayPal enabled merchants have WAY higher checkout conversion rates from customers using PayPal as opposed to other methods of payment.

The takeaway from this is not that you should be using PayPal, though that would also be a good idea — it’s also that you should make the checkout process as simple as you can, as some of PayPal’s appeal is in being very straightforward.

Item #5: Third party sellers have been doing better on Amazon than before.

Amazon’s digital marketplace is infamous for favoring Amazon itself.

The cliche goes that Amazon’s size effectively forces many sellers to use it, and then Amazon copies their products and sells an Amazon/first party version of it for a lower price.

That’s still true. But check this out — it’s straight from Jeff Bezos’ latest annual shareholder letter:

growth of third parties on amazon

There you go: third party sales have actually INCREASED on Amazon over the years, and have accounted for a majority of Amazon sales (physically, of course) since 2015.

Don’t get me wrong: Amazon still stacks the deck in favor of itself. Your apprehensions about Amazon’s marketplace?

They’re still valid.

And there’s even some reason to suspect that Amazon is intentionally downplaying its influence to avoid regulation by American authorities.

But nonetheless, it’s a useful reminder to see some hard figures that yes, in fact it is very possible to sell on Amazon as a third party.

Item #6: Amazon’s share of e-commerce in 2019 may be SMALLER than you thought.

A while back, people would commonly cite a statistic that put Amazon at nearly HALF of e-commerce (though usually people meant half of retail e-commerce).

But the leading research firm eMarketer (which many people cite) recently LOWERED its figure after seeing something confirmed…

That thing being the figure I just showed you that third parties comprised a majority of Amazon’s sales.

So eMarketer lowered its previous estimates of Amazon’s market share to — drum roll, please —

37.7% of e-commerce retail sales.

So yeah, don’t get your hopes up too much. That’s still an enormous share, and it easily dwarfs the nearest competitors.

A takeaway?

Amazon may not be as dominant as you’ve been led to believe, but you’re still going to need to work your butt off to make your online store work, whether it’s on or off Amazon.

Item #7: Worldwide, most e-commerce is B2B.

This one may come as a surprise to many of you, but B2B e-commerce (meaning businesses selling products or services to other businesses) is by far the majority of all e-commerce, dwarfing B2C e-commerce (meaning businesses selling to ordinary, private customers).

Even more surprising is seeing it represented visually:

b2b vs b2c

Yep, worldwide about $10.6 trillion of e-commerce is B2B, compared to $2.8 trillion which is B2C.

That’s a huge ratio, and although it can be initially confusing, it makes some sense when you consider that everything sold online needs some software and services enabled for said things to be sold in the first place.

Not to mention all the businesses and agencies that need an online presence, period.

Anyway, this just goes to show that B2B e-commerce is still enormously popular and going strong, with no real signs of slowing down.

Item #8: The average website conversion rate is about 2.86%.

This is a “big” average, meaning a lot of stuff has gone into it…So things might be a little different for your industry or region.

Nonetheless, the overall message is pretty clear:

average website conversion rate

By the very end of 2018, the latest stats were that about 2.86% of visitors to e-commerce sites globally actually ended up purchasing something, with the rate being slightly smaller in the U.S. and higher in the U.K.

Another stat that’s more recent tells us the conversion rate in July 2019 was 1.72%, but I think it may take some more time for 2019’s stats to really be analyzed.

Anyway, these numbers will probably tell you something you’ve long known (without knowing the specifics): that a seriously huge portion of your visitors are just visiting, not buying.

Item #9: Chatbots are not always beloved.

This one isn’t hard to guess — heck, I frequently complain about chatbots myself.

But it’s good to see some fairly recent numbers to back this up: about 40% of people would prefer speaking to humans over chatbots, according to a mid-2018 poll by CGS (presented by eMarketer).

cons of chatbots

Here are some of the reasons why:

I’m not saying you need to abandon chatbots…just that if you’re going to use them (and you have plenty to gain if you do, remember) you should be ready for some customer dissatisfaction with them.

It’s important to note that even if I (and many others I know) hate chatbots, there is a reason to believe they’ll increase in the future:

A 2016 survey by Oracle of 800 leading business figures found that a whopping 80% already used or plan to use chatbots.

And there are a lot of potential savings from using chatbots. So you should be prepared for a future in which chatbots become even more commonplace than they are now.

This isn’t to say you should or shouldn’t use them…just that you should get a sense for the context of chatbots nowadays, and be ready for it!

Item #10: Nearly HALF of the consumers globally have made an online purchase with biometrics.

According to a survey by Paysafe (also presented here by eMarketer), nearly half of consumers globally have purchased something online using biometrics.

You can also see some of the reasons why respondents to the Paysafe poll have warmed to biometrics:

pros of biometrics

As you’d expect, it’s largely due to convenience and security.

Now, I have my own reservations about the data:

First, I think these numbers are a little skewed considering that paying with biometrics is very common in China, which itself is a HUGE part of global e-commerce.

Second, I don’t exactly trust a group called “Paysafe” to ask non-leading questions about biometric payments in its surveys.

Nonetheless, this is still something to be taken seriously.

Even if the amount of people in your country who are comfortable with biometric payments is lower than Paysafe and eMarketer would have you think…it’s clearly a growing phenomenon everywhere.

And thus, something you should be prepared for.

Conclusion

Like I said in the beginning, e-commerce is so enormous nowadays that it’s important to stick to solid research.

This list isn’t ALL the valid e-commerce statistics around…but it is some of the best and/or most current.

There are plenty of lessons you can take away from these stats, and of course, you’ll have to take things case-by-case. Maybe not every finding will be relevant to your business.

But overall, there are some big takeaways for just about everyone: keep things streamlined, and be ready for the growth of digital commerce in the future!

Resources

I’ve said it in similar articles, but no one here wants you to read fake news. Here’s the list of sources we used for this collection of statistics!

1. Past and near-future growth of digital buyers online

2. Online shopping cart abandonment rates from 2006 – 2019

3. Most common reasons for cart abandonment

4. PayPal’s higher conversion rates at checkout

5. Jeff Bezos’ shareholder letter on growth of third-party sellers

6. Re-adjusted figure for Amazon’s share of e-commerce (retail)

7. B2B vs. B2C shares of e-commerce

8. Conversion rates over time (2014 – 2018), including by industry

9. Recent conversion rate for July 2019

10. Potential savings of chatbots and Oracle survey

11. Challenges/negatives of using chatbots according to users

12. Consumers are more open to biometrics

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