Global e-commerce sales to hit $1.5 trillion, driven by growth in emerging markets

According to eMarketer's latest forecasts, worldwide business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce sales will increase by 20.1 percent this year to reach $1.5 trillion. Growth will come primarily from the rapidly expanding online and mobile user bases in emerging markets, increases in m-commerce sales, advancing shipping and payment options, and the push into new international markets by major brands.

B2C ecommerce sales worldwide thru 2017

In 2014, for the first time, consumers in Asia-Pacific will spend more on e-commerce purchases than those in North America, making it the largest regional e-commerce market in the world. This year alone, B2C e-commerce sales are expected to reach $525.16 billion in the region, compared with $482.63 billion in North America.

B2C ecommerce sales worldwide thru 2017

China will take in more than six of every 10 dollars spent on e-commerce in Asia-Pacific this year, and nearly three-quarters of regional spending by 2017. The country's e-commerce market is second only to the US, but this is not expected to last much longer. Beginning in 2016, China will overtake the US in spending. Massive gains in China, as well as in India and Indonesia, will push the region's growth ahead.

These countries, along with Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, Russia, Italy and Canada, will drive worldwide e-commerce sales growth. E-commerce markets in other countries included in eMarketer's forecast are nearing maturity.

B2C ecommerce sales worldwide thru 2017

The strength of sales in emerging markets is largely due to their large populations coming online and buying there for the first time. Asia-Pacific will claim more than 46 percent of digital buyers worldwide in 2014, though these users will only account for 16.9 percent of the region's population. Penetration will also be low in Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East and Africa. For now, North America and Western Europe are the only regions where a majority of residents will make purchases via digital channels.

eMarketer bases all of its forecasts on a multipronged approach that focuses on both worldwide and local trends in the economy, technology and population, along with company-, product-, country- and demographic-specific trends, and trends in specific consumer behaviors. The firm analyzes quantitative and qualitative data from a variety of research firms, government agencies, media outlets and company reports, weighting each piece of information based on methodology and soundness.

Read more about online retailing. (Photo by Sudhamshu Hebbar.)

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