- E-commerce experiences unprecedented growth year after year. New markets emerge annually around the globe.
- China is the current largest e-commerce market, with an estimated $672 billion in online sales each year.
- New trends in e-commerce, including the use of technology like the internet of things, will help the industry grow.
The e-commerce industry is continuously growing worldwide. With each passing day, new e-commerce markets are emerging and established markets are reaching new milestones. Here we have taken a look at the world's biggest e-commerce markets (in terms of sales) by country and the state of the ongoing e-commerce trends there. If you're considering entering one of the markets below, it's advised that you review the local laws for doing business in that area, and if you're looking to expand your own operation, review this list of the best tools to grow an ecommerce business.
Today, China is the world's biggest e-commerce market, led by e-commerce subsidiaries of the Alibaba group, namely Taobao, Alibaba.com, Tmall and others. With an annual growth rate of 35%, China is also one of the fastest-growing e-commerce markets.
Annual online sales: $672 billion
E-commerce share of total retail sales: 15.9%
2. United States
After ruling the e-commerce world for more than a decade, the United States is currently the second largest e-commerce market in the world. Led by e-commerce giants Amazon and eBay, the U.S. observes healthy e-commerce growth in all sectors and, for the most part, has been the innovation house for new e-commerce trends.
Annual online sales: $340 billion
E-commerce share of total retail sales: 7.5%
3. United Kingdom
Despite its small size, the United Kingdom is a big e-commerce player and comfortably secures third place on this list. Amazon U.K., Argos and Play.com are the U.K.'s biggest e-commerce websites, and the country also has one of the highest percentages of total retail sales in e-commerce.
Annual online sales: $99 billion
E-commerce share of total retail sales: 14.5%
Coming in at fourth on the list, Japan is the leading m-commerce (mobile commerce, which, of course, is the future of e-commerce) player in the world. Rakuten is Japan's leading e-commerce platform, which over the years has acquired many e-commerce sites across the world.
Annual online sales: $79 billion
E-commerce share of total retail sales: 5.4%
Germany is Europe's second largest e-commerce market after the U.K. Amazon has a good hold in Germany's market as well. eBay and Germany's local online retailer Otto are some other major e-commerce players in the country.
Annual online sales: $73 billion
E-commerce share of total retail sales: 8.4%
Led by local players like Odigeo and Cdiscount, the French e-commerce market comes in at sixth place in the world. Like in other major European e-commerce markets, Amazon has good penetration in France, but the local brands have managed to keep the edge over their U.S. counterpart in the country.
Annual online sales: $43 billion
E-commerce share of total retail sales: 5.1%
7. South Korea
The country with the fastest wireless internet speed, South Korea, comes in at seventh place on this list. South Korea is also one of the leading m-commerce markets. The biggest e-commerce names in the country include Gmarket and Coupang.
Annual online sales: $37 billion
E-commerce share of total retail sales: 9.8%
Canada is a huge e-commerce market but with low competition. Naturally enough, Amazon dominates the country's e-commerce market, trailed by Costco. Given the opportunities Canada presents as an e-commerce market, other foreign brands are also trying to take a slice of it.
Annual online sales: $30 billion
E-commerce share of total retail sales: 5.7%
Coming at No. 9, the Russian e-commerce market is still in a somewhat nascent stage. The country has the largest population of internet users in Europe, but its online sales are only about 2% of total sales. Ulmart, Citilink and Ozon are the biggest online retailers in the country.
Annual online sales: $20 billion
E-commerce share of total retail sales: 2%
The only South American country on this list, Brazil has a decent e-commerce growth of about 22%. Brazil is certainly on the radar of North American online retailers, but as of now, local players, namely MercadoLibre and B2W, lead the way for the country.
Annual online sales: $19 billion
E-commerce share of total retail sales: 2.8%
Many other e-commerce markets are growing at an impressive speed and might overtake one of the countries listed here in the coming years. Most notable are India and Southeast Asia.
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Global e-commerce trends today
The internet of things (IoT) will continue to affect e-commerce in 2020 and beyond. According to research from the marketing study firm Zebra, over 70% of businesses will be using the IoT by 2021 to enhance the customer experience. With the IoT, companies can collect data faster for real-time responses. As an example, an e-commerce platform can send a customer alert when a product is running low and automatically buy it for them.
Another trend in e-commerce will be retailers increasing availability across multiple channels. Instead of selling exclusively through a dedicated brand website, companies will expand their sales channels to include sites such as Amazon, eBay, Facebook and Pinterest.
Checkout simplicity is a major trend in e-commerce this year. Shoppers often abandon their carts after realizing the checkout process is long and complicated. Online retailers can streamline checkout by using payment processors like Payoneer. For more details we've outlined how to develop an e-commerce strategy, covering everything from goal setting to determining which channels to focus on.