10 significant ecommerce statistics you need to know in 2021
These 10 ecommerce stats will help eBay, Amazon and other online sellers identify how to sell successfully in 2021 and beyond.
Not everything that worked in ecommerce in 2020 will bring (extra) sales in the future. Some tactics, however, that worked well at the time of COVID-19 and lockdowns, may work even better in 2021.
In this article you’ll find:
- Powerful ecommerce statistics & trends for 2021
- Actionable recommendations to take your business to the next level.
Ecommerce statistics 2021
Whether you sell on eBay, Amazon or other marketplaces, it’s important that you keep track of the latest ecommerce statistics and trends. The fast changing ecommerce industry as well as world transforming events and phenomena, such as Brexit or coronavirus, can have a big impact on global ecommerce.
For this reason, staying one step ahead of what’s happening today is essential.
The following stats and data will tell you more about the impact of COVID-19 on global ecommerce, changing online buying habits, international sales, ecommerce advertising, worldwide shipping and much more.
Let’s dig in.
#1 ecommerce stat: 2.14 billion online buyers worldwide
- Over 2.14 billion people worldwide are expected to buy goods and services online in 2021 (Statista).
- Global online sales are forecast to reach 22% of all retail sales in 2023 (vs. 14.1% in 2019, Statista).
- Retail ecommerce market sales worldwide will reach $6.54 trillion in 2023 (vs. $3.53 trillion in 2019, Statista).
- By 2040, 95% of retail purchases are likely to be made online and traditional retail may be hardly existent (Nasdaq).
With online shopping overtaking traditional retail, ecommerce is booming on a global scale. The growing number of online marketplaces, buyers and cross-border purchases stimulate the market’s growth.
According to Mike Bishop, CEO at Webinterpret:
Online Cross Border Trade is growing faster than the overall ecommerce market and this trend is forecast to continue.
#2 ecommerce stat: orders increase by 60% due to COVID-19
- The average items per order increased by 60% during COVID-19 (Contact Pigeon).
- 44% of consumers tried new brands during the pandemic (Arlington Research).
- 43% of shoppers now feel more positive about shopping online; almost 40% of consumers report that they’re more comfortable with digital technology than before lockdown (Wunderman Thompson Commerce).
- In August, online gift stores saw over 490% YOY growth in GMV (Wix).
- Despite COVID-19, almost 90% of worldwide shoppers will still be shopping for Christmas and other seasonal holidays (Rakuten).
The impact of COVID-19 on online sales has been evident since the start of the pandemic, for example in Italy.
The coronavirus outbreak has fueled the growth of ecommerce and order value. Moving shopping in many categories to online, e.g. home furnishings, is likely to continue in 2021. Further, more shoppers are purchasing products from previously unheard-of brands and feel more comfortable with digital technology.
The pandemic is not what we’ve prayed for, but the reality is that it’s a good time to widen your audience and potentially your product offer.
Furthermore, as gifting is on the rise, you can use this opportunity to generate extra sales, especially around big dates and holidays, such as Christmas, Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day. You can offer shoppers the option to personalize products or add a gift card. Consider upselling, cross-selling, and product bundling.
Practical example. Instead of offering coffee mugs only, offer to personalize them and/or offer a bundle that includes coffee and gift wrap with a X% discount.
#3 ecommerce stat: ecommerce ad spend rose 115%
- Ecommerce ad spend rose 115% (Q3 2019 vs. Q3 2018) and Amazon was a key player (Marin Software).
- Digital will represent 51.3% of total US ad spending by 2021 (eMarketer).
- Over 940,000 sellers use eBay’s Promoted Listings on over 250 million listings (eBay, 2019).
- According to Amazon, 76% of Amazon shoppers use the search bar to find an item, and search advertising is a way for brands to stand out among the competition.
Today being first in organic results on popular marketplaces, such as eBay or Amazon, may not give the best results. Due to the prominence of paid ads, the first organic result may not appear until the middle of the page, or even closer to the bottom!
For instance, on eBay in popular categories, over 50% of the first page of search results can be sponsored products. This includes the first 5 search results that are getting the most clicks.
All the same, there are many benefits of ecommerce advertising. Ads on marketplaces positively impact product page views, transactions and revenue. In general, they’re very effective for a short boost in sales.
However, an effective long-term advertising strategy is a completely different thing. Sometimes sellers must put in more advertising effort, another time products can sell relatively easily with no (excessive) ad spend.
According to Caroline Ohrn, Product Director at Webinterpret:
Advertising, to a large extent, is about striking a balance between investing money and getting results.
This usually requires advertising knowledge and experience, e.g. a good understanding of the specifics of a given market or the demand and competition dynamics. Unfortunately, many sellers aren’t familiar with how advertising on specific platforms works. This way they can lose both paid and organic traffic.
#4 ecommerce stat: 70% of online buyers purchase from foreign sites
- 70% of online buyers already purchase from foreign sites (eMarketer).
- Almost half of US shoppers buy items cross-border (Pitney Bowes).
According to eMarketer, 80% of retailers worldwide agree that cross-border trade has been profitable or that sellers have successfully increased sales as much as 1,000% after expanding their marketplace presence.
International ecommerce expansion is especially effective when paid marketing campaigns reach a plateau in the seller’s domestic/current market. Increasing CPCs further to grow traffic can decrease campaign clicks, sales and the overall profitability.
In such situations less competitive markets can offer lower CPCs and better return on advertising spend.
Additionally, the possibility of satisfying the unmet demand abroad is one of the biggest worldwide opportunities for marketplace sellers. On Amazon and eBay you can sell on markets with more sales potential and less competition.
It’s also worth adding that during challenging times, such as the current pandemic, selling on international markets often allows sellers to plan and balance the sales between markets, spread their risk and make the most of diversification.
The lockdown and social distancing usually encourage additional populations to purchase online. However, consumer behavior related to cross-border ecommerce imports differs depending on the stage of the pandemic in each market.
If the country is within the peak of the outbreak, a slowdown of cross-border imports can be expected. It’s important for international merchants to try to minimize potential shipping delays and keep their clients informed. Reliable parcel tracking tools and simple return options should also help in reassuring buyers.
#5 ecommerce stat: 96% of small businesses on eBay export to an average of 17 countries
- 96% of small businesses using eBay in the USA export to an average of 17 countries (eBay).
- 6 out of 10 eBay entrepreneurs sell to customers across at least 4 continents. By comparison, 1% of traditional businesses in the USA sell to an average of 4 countries.
With cross-border ecommerce on the rise, eBay sellers that can strategically introduce their products on international markets have an excellent opportunity to expand their customer reach.
It’s worth considering foreign markets where local online sellers aren’t able to offer specific products or meet the local demand. For example, Italy shows a lack of dynamism in the local offering and many products have to be imported from abroad, e.g. clothes from foreign brands or vehicle parts for cars.
#6 ecommerce stat: Amazon accounts for almost 10% of Europe’s online sales
- Amazon accounted for 9.8% of Europe’s online sales (2019, Digital Commerce 360 estimates).
- In Q2 2020, Amazon noted the $345 million profit posted by its international operations (higher sales spurred by coronavirus).
- Amazon made better use of its extensive infrastructure, including 639 fulfillment centers outside of the USA, according to MPWVL. Those centers enable Amazon to offer fulfillment services to sellers on its 15 marketplaces outside the USA.
With International being a significant part of Amazon’s business, there are big opportunities for Amazon sellers who consider offering their products on foreign markets. Markets outside of the USA accounted for over a quarter of the company’s revenue in 2019 and 2018.
Amazon is No. 1 in the Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000 ranking of North America’s leading online retailers and No. 3 in the Digital Commerce 360 Online Marketplaces ranking of global operators of multi-merchant shopping portals. Amazon is also the biggest online retailer in Europe.
#7 ecommerce stat: 32% of eBay’s buyers are aged 35 to 49
- Gen X and Baby Boomers comprise the largest demographic on eBay, with 32% of the site’s buyers aged 35 to 49 and 29% aged 50 to 64.
- 18% of the platform’s shoppers are aged 25 to 34 and 14% are aged 18 to 24.
- 44% of Americans between 30 and 44 are planning to increase their spending in online marketplaces because of the pandemic.
Older customers are feeling more and more comfortable shopping online. Interestingly, it’s not only due to the pandemic, but also technology becoming more intuitive and easier to use. eBay suggests a variety of strategies to help reach these customers, e.g. mobile-friendly listings, a social media presence, discounts and promotions.
When creating your marketing campaigns for people over 50 years old, remember you’re reaching those people who’d previously shopped in-store. Thus, consider offering discounts on products your older customers tend to buy.
#8 ecommerce stat: many buyers will make a purchase at 8AM and via Facebook
- 8AM-9AM (adjusted for time zones) is the peak time for online sales (Salecycle).
- 40% of consumers have made a purchase via Facebook, 13% via Instagram and 12% via Pinterest (Avionos).
Use this knowledge to increase the visibility of your product at the right time and on the right channel. Plan your large promotions and marketing campaigns during peak times, but be aware that they may be specific for each platform. Also, consider other factors, such as demographics or locations.
Consider establishing presence on social media to support selling on marketplaces. To better connect with your customer base, it may be worth investing in an omnichannel social media sales strategy. In other words, optimize each platform to best serve its users and integrate all of your platforms into a single, seamless approach.
Practical example. If you receive a lot of customer enquiries via Twitter, optimize your Twitter strategy to respond to enquiries. If your followers use your Facebook Page to learn more about your business, focus more on educational and engaging content. If people tend to purchase your products on Instagram, optimize your Instagram business profile to sell.
#9 ecommerce stat: Americans have 4 credit cards on average
- Americans have 4 credit cards on average (Experian).
- Visa and Mastercard are the two most popular credit card companies (Statista).
- PayPal is the preferred payment method among online shoppers worldwide: over 40% of online shoppers report using this method (Statista).
- The PayPal badge got the most attention out of all social proof buttons (CXL Institute).
- Digital and mobile wallet payments account for almost 42% of online transaction volume worldwide. Only 29% of online merchants accept mobile wallets (Statista).
As speed and convenience are important for online shoppers, you should enable them to pay with their preferred payment method. Even though there are many alternative payment options, credit cards are still the most popular choice so make it clear that you accept them on your website and show the logos of popular card providers.
#10 ecommerce stat: 85% of consumers prefer free shipping over fast shipping
- 85% of consumers prefer free shipping over fast shipping (Deloitte).
- The average shopping cart abandonment rate approximates 70%. Shipping fees and other extra costs are the main reason why shoppers decide not to finalize the purchase online (Baymard Institute).
Free shipping can be the ultimate sales maker at the final stages in the online purchase decision process. “Free” is a powerful notion: we tend to overvalue many things that come for free, considering it a good deal.
However, not all sellers can afford to offer free shipping, especially if they sell internationally. For this reason, many international online sellers will be better off having local fulfilment centres, close to the buyers.
Practical example. If you’re a British online merchant trading in the US, keep part of your stock in the US, close to your US customers. This will lower your shipping costs, but will also shorten delivery times and increase customer satisfaction.
Webinterpret supports merchants selling on big, international ecommerce platforms, such as eBay and Amazon as well more local marketplaces, such as Cdiscount.
Our marketplace offer is constantly expanding so if you want to grow your online sales, feel free to contact our sales experts. They will help you analyze your international sales potential and choose markets that will offer you the best possible return on investment.
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