By Beth Klongpayabal

Last Updated: September 28, 2021

Ecommerce has transformed shopping. No longer must consumers always trek to a store, wrangle a parking space, and hunt through shelves for elusive products. With a few taps and swipes, they can shop anywhere, anytime.

This ability has come in especially handy during the COVID-19 pandemic for both merchants and consumers. Electronic commerce also makes shopping more accessible to many consumers who are older or who have disabilities. At the same time, it can be inaccessible, depending on the merchant and disability.

Other ecommerce downsides include the potential for fraud and the difficulty for consumers to make returns. However, these disadvantages aren’t severe enough to deter many shoppers. In the first half of 2021, retail ecommerce sales in the United States totaled nearly $438 billion, outpacing 2020’s first half of about $358 billion.1

In this guide, we explore ecommerce stats, trends, and strategies in areas such as personalization, versatility, social media, the diversity of products and services offered, holiday shopping, accessibility, and COVID-19.


Table of Contents


Why Consumers Adore Ecommerce and How We Shop Online

Ecommerce is pretty great, whether you’re talking about business to consumer (B2C), business to business (B2B), direct to consumer (D2C), or another type. Direct to consumer is the newest form and has really taken off during the pandemic. It occurs when merchants and brands sell directly to end customers, for example, through subscriptions, livestreams, and social media.

Personalization: Ecommerce Knows Us, and We Like It

Ecommerce gets personal, thanks to retailers using consumer data to attract and keep shoppers. Many of us welcome it.

  • 50% of consumers enjoy personalized loyalty rewards from stores and brands2
  • 24% of consumers would promote a brand online if it related to their interests
  • 16% find out about brands after viewing personalized purchase recommendations on websites

Personalization can include tailoring ads and messages, retargeting folks who have left a website, and customizing homepages and navigation options.

Target Circle is one example of a personalized loyalty program. Amazon and Walmart have their own takes, too, as do numerous other retailers.

Stats on 3 Major Retailers’ Loyalty Programs (Ecommerce)

Target Circle Rewards3 Amazon Prime4 Walmart Plus (W+)5
Free, doesn’t charge a fee or offer exclusives Generally costs $119 per year with discounts for students, SNAP recipients, and some others; free 30-day trial available $98 per year; free 15-day trial available
Rolled out in 2019 Started in 2005 Launched in September 2020
About 100 million subscribers in the U.S. About 200 million subscribers worldwide; 126 million in the U.S. An estimated 8 million to 9 million members in the U.S.
Perks include 1% cash back Target credit, 5% birthday reward discounts, and access to free trials and other deals Perks/exclusives include same-day delivery in some markets, free shipping on most items, video and music streaming, unlimited online photo storage, discounts on higher-level music streaming, some free Kindle books, Prime Day deals, members-only discounts, exclusive access to many deals, and Amazon Fresh grocery deliveries in some areas Perks/exclusives include gas discounts, free shipping, and unlimited delivery for groceries and some merchandise
Focus of Target Circle is to get more consumer conversions and purchases via personalized offers and continual relevancy Goal is to strengthen the loyalty consumers have to Amazon Focus is on enhancing the customer experience vs. rushing into customer growth and adding more benefits; more capacity needed to keep on top of grocery and merchandise deliveries

 

Shoppers enjoy subscription options Subscription ecommerce has its share of personalization, too. Subscriptions occur when consumers set ongoing orders to replenish baseline items such as groceries, shampoo, pet food, etc.

  • 22% of respondents to a poll (and 29% of Millennial respondents) say they use surveys and quizzes by brands to find the best subscription products for their needs6
  • 34% of Millennials are likely to keep shopping through subscription services; Gen X was next-highest age group at 24%
  • 41% subscription ecommerce growth during the pandemic
  • 3% of ecommerce sales in 2021 should come from subscription and total $27.67 billion (up from more than $10 billion in 2019)

Some companies even give consumers the ability to personalize their shoppers (to choose their favorite shopper)

  • 95% of consumers using grocery/household essentials delivery company Shipt quickly choose the Preferred Shoppers feature7

Shipt added this feature to personalize the customer experience and says it has hugely improved quality of service, order frequency, tipping, and satisfaction for both customers and shoppers.

“The more often a shopper shops for a customer, the more they learn about that customer’s wants and needs and are able to deliver a tailored shopping experience." - Karl Varsanyi, Shipt chief experience and product officer

Versatility: Ecommerce Lets Us Buy Practically Any Good or Service (Even If We’re on Social Media or on a Livestream!)

When you need a ride, you can order one through Uber or Lyft. Likewise, you can order custom-designed birthday party invitations through services such as Fiverr. With ecommerce, you can procure virtually anything.

Love social media? You can shop through platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and even Tik Tok

  • Social network users in the U.S. will spend 1 hour, 35 minutes on average every day on social media8
  • 80.1 million (25.2%): Growth in U.S. social commerce buyers in 202010
  • 90.4 million (another 12.9%): Expected 2021 growth
  • 4.3% of ecommerce sales in 2021 expected to be from social commerce
  • $36.62 billion in 2021 (vs. nearly $27 billion in 2020): Expected U.S. social commerce sales in 202110
  • Expected sales by end of 2025: $79.64 billion10

Product Pins, Idea Pins, Shopify integrations, and other moves help drive Pinterest buys

  • 30.5%: Percentage of U.S. social buyers on Pinterest in 2020 (reaching 12 million)11
  • Another 16.4%: Expected Pinterest buyer growth by the end of 2021 (reaching 13.9 million)
  • 2.6% The expected percentage growth in 2025 (reaching 17 million)
  • 15.7%: The percentage of U.S. social media buyers who should have made purchases through Pinterest by 2023

Facebook should have 64.8 million social commerce buyers in 2025 (a bit more than 20% of online users)

  • In 2019, the platform had 41.1 million buyers12
  • 56.1 million buyers estimated in 2021 for a total of $36.6 billion
  • Facebook is the most popular social commerce platform

Video games and accessories ranked as the top category for social media commerce sales in 2020 at 44%

    • Toys and hobbies, 29%13
    • Jewelry and watches, 26%
    • Apparel and accessories, 25%
    • Books and ebooks, 23%
    • Food and drinks, 22%
    • Events and event tickets, 20%
    • Music, movies, and videos, 19%
    • Sports and fitness, 18%
    • Handcrafted items, 18%
    • Digital content, 16%
    • Home and garden, 15%
    • Apps and software, 14%
    • Phones and mobile devices, 14%
    • Flowers, and misc. Gifts, 11%
    • Computers and peripherals, 10%
    • Furniture, appliances, and equipment, 10%
    • Tools and hardware, 7%
    • Office supplies , 7%
    • Niche and boutique items, 7%
  • Friend/acquaintance posts are most influential in driving buyers14
  • 11% of users bought a product online immediately after discovering it on social media; 44% bought it online later; 45% did not buy or order
  • 93% of businesses use social commerce now; 71% of small businesses do and prefer Facebook Instagram is top platform for influencer marketing

Livestream ecommerce catches on in the U.S. Livestreaming is a relatively new U.S. ecommerce trend, although it’s been huge in China the past few years. It’ll get even bigger there (and here).

  • In 2019, livestreaming ecommerce sales in China totaled $62.30 billion and were 3.5% of total ecommerce sales.8
  • By 2023, it's expected to rake in $623.29 billion and consittute 19.4% of China’s ecommerce sales.
  • In the United States, companies big and small alike are using their own livestream channels, social media, livestream-specific shopping apps, and QVC and other home shopping networks for livestreaming. Interestingly, Amazon Live hasn’t proved popular (yet?)

In livestreams, hosts/brands and audiences have the ability to chat and purchase in real time. The format is similar to QVC television and can incorporate auctions, game shows, and talk shows.

Talk about versatility! Shoppers have more flexibility with “buy now, pay later" options One thing shoppers enjoy about ecommerce and social commerce are the flexible payment options. Companies such as Klarna, Afterpay, and PayPal Credit let consumers pay in installments.

  • $7.3 billion: Global market valuation of buy now, pay later platforms in 201915
  • More than $33.6 billion: Expected valuation by 2027

Influencer ecommerce has a bright future

  • $13.8 billion: Value of worldwide influencer market in 2021; was just $1.7 billion in 201616
  • Influencer marketing is when

Need a ride? Companies such as Uber are happy to help Gig jobs, also called sharing or peer-to-peer jobs, are temporary and typically performed by freelancers or contractors. Consumers can hire gig workers to drive, design, and shop for them, among other tasks.

  • Uber is poised to exceed $35 billion in ride-sharing sales in 202317
  • Lyft should get about $14 billion in sales in 2023

Free shipping, range of products, and Prime lure Amazon shoppers Shoppers cited these reasons when explaining why they use Amazon.18

  • Fast, free shipping - 79.8%
  • Huge product selection - 68.9%
  • Prime - 65.7%
  • Best prices - 49.2%
  • Easy returns - 43.7%
  • Best digital shopping experience - 42%
  • Product reviews and recommendations - 40.5%
  • Unique items, including handcrafted, vintage - 22.3%
  • Proactive communication during delivery - 17.8%
  • Other - 2.4%

Shoppers 25 to 34 years old make up largest group of digital buyers As of February 2020, these were the age demographics for ecommerce shoppers.19

  • 14-17 years old - 5.2%
  • 18-24 years old - 13%
  • 25-34 years old - 20.2%
  • 35-44 years old - 17.2%
  • 45-54 years old - 15.5%
  • 55-64 years old - 14.6%
  • 65+ years old - 14.4%

China leads the rest of the world considerably

  1. China: Biggest ecommerce market in 2021, should account for 52.1% of all retail ecommerce sales20
  2. United States: Second-biggest at 19%
  3. UK: 4.8%
  4. Japan: 3%
  5. South Korea: 2.5%
  6. Germany: 2.1%
  7. France: 1.6%
  8. India: 1.4%
  9. Canada: 1.3%
  10. Brazil: 0.8%

Ecommerce vs. brick and mortar

  • In 2021, brick-and-mortar sales should make up 84.6% of total retail U.S. sales, leaving 15.4% to ecommerce21 in 2025, ecommerce is predicted to make up almost 24% of retail sales

How ecommerce shoppers find products22

  • Amazon - 63%
  • Search engines - 48%
  • Retailer sites - 33%
  • Other marketplaces - 25%
  • Website of the brand they want - 21%
  • Comparison sites - 10%
  • Social media sites - 8%
  • Other - 2%

We spend more money when shopping on computers vs. smartphones Here are the numbers for average online shopping orders according to device type.23

If we’re on mobile phones:

  • $95.25 in Quarter 2, 2020
  • $134.39 in Quarter 2, 2021

If we’re on tablets:

  • $101.30 in Quarter 2, 2020
  • $101.18 in Quarter 2, 2021

If we’re on desktop computers:

  • $134.85 in Quarter 2, 2020
  • $184.44 in Quarter 2, 2021

Worldwide, 69% of retailer ecommerce website visits are on smartphones (first quarter 2021). Mobile devices have decidedly helped drive the popularity of ecommerce.24

  • 27% of visits were through a computer
  • 3% were through tablets

In 2021, 15 companies should account for 72.3% of U.S. ecommerce sales25 Here they are listed by expected strength of ecommerce sales growth.

  1. Etsy, 26.9%
  2. Walmart, 26.4%
  3. Chewy, 25%
  4. Amazon, 24.9%
  5. Costco, 21.7%
  6. Apple, 19.7%
  7. Wayfair, 19.7%
  8. Home Depot, 18%
  9. Kroger, 14.1%
  10. Macy’s, 13%
  11. Target, 12.5%
  12. Lowe’s, 12.1%
  13. EBay, 7.8%
  14. Qurate Retail Group, 5.7%
  15. Best Buy, -3.1%

Qurate holds brands such as QVC, HSN, Zulily, Ballard Designs, Frontgate, Garnet Hill, and Grandin Road. (And, yes, that’s a drop for Best Buy at the end of the list.)

Pre-pandemic rankings are similar to during/post-pandemic 2019 (pre-pandemic) data shows Amazon leading the pack in ecommerce sales. The numbers listed below are in million U.S. dollars.26

  1. Amazon.com - $73,782
  2. Walmart.com - $19,613
  3. Apple.com - $11,361
  4. Homedepot.com - $9,312
  5. Bestbuy.com - $7,640
  6. Target.com - $6,613
  7. Wayfair.com - $6,211
  8. Macys.com - $5,467
  9. Chewy.com - $4,847
  10. Costco.com - $4,549
  • Forward-thinking focuses such as digital grocery and delivery speed put Amazon in a good position during the COVID-19 pandemic.27
  • Walmart (Target, too) is using its huge brick-and-mortar presence to increase ecommerce sales.

Top 5 food and beverages ecommerce stores, 2020

  1. Kroger.com - 105.2% revenue growth 2019/2020.28
  2. Walmart.com - 85.1% revenue growth 2019/2020
  3. Amazon.com - 40.6% revenue growth 2019/2020
  4. Freshdirect.com - 52.9% revenue growth 2019/2020
  5. Target.com - 145.3% revenue growth 2019/2020

Top 5 consumer electronics ecommerce stores, 2020

  1. Amazon.com - 40.6% revenue growth 2019/202029
  2. Bestbuy.com - 144.4% revenue growth 2019/2020
  3. Apple.com - 25.2% revenue growth 2019/2020
  4. Walmart.com - 85.1% revenue growth 2019/2020
  5. Dell.com - 9.7% revenue growth 2019/2020

Top 5 fashion ecommerce stores, 2020 (first-party net sales)

  1. Macy’s.com - 21.3% revenue growth 2019/202030
  2. Amazon.com - 40.6% revenue growth 2019/2020
  3. Gap.com - 49.8% revenue growth 2019/2020
  4. Walmart.com - 85.1% revenue growth 2019/2020
  5. Kohls.com - 32.7% revenue growth 2019/2020

Top 5 DIY, garden, and pets ecommerce stores, 2020 (first-party net sales)

  1. Chewy.com - 47.4% revenue growth 2019/202031
  2. Amazon.com - 40.6% revenue growth 2019/2020
  3. Homedepot.com - 81.8% revenue growth 2019/2020
  4. Carvana.com - 38.6% revenue growth 2019/2020
  5. Grainger.com - 15.9% revenue growth 2019/2020

Folks abandon more often than they purchase Consumers love shopping online, but shopping cart abandonment is hugely common. It occurs when online shopping orders fall through and don’t result in a purchase.The stats that follow apply worldwide and are from March 2020.

  • 88.05%: Overall abandonment rate for all ecommerce orders32
    • Automotive - 96.88%
    • Baby & Child - 94.36%
    • Luxury - 92.61%
    • Car Rental - 92.04%
    • Airlines - 90.91%
    • Fashion - 90.68%
    • Gardening & DIY - 90.34%
    • Cruise & Ferry - 90.13%
    • Mobile Providers - 89.93%
    • Department Store - 89.01%
    • Hotel - 87.55%
    • Cosmetics - 85.73%
    • Consumer Electronics - 85.49%
    • Retail - 84.51%
    • Sports & Outdoor - 84.21%
    • Groceries - 83.97%
    • Travel - 79.95%
    • Pharmaceutical - 76.98%
    • Insurance - 67.92%

Too-high shipping costs #1 reason for shopping cart abandonment U.S. stats from November 2018 give insight into why consumers abandon their ecommerce shopping carts.

  • Shipping costs too much - 63%33
  • Discount code doesn't work - 46%
  • Order takes forever to ship - 36%
  • Have to re-enter credit card info - 30%
  • Have to re-enter shipping info - 25%

Recent grocery segment growth is in ecommerce

  • Grocery ecommerce sales shot up 63.9% in 2020.34
    • 2021: 12.3% growth
    • 2025: 17.6% growth

Food and beverage ecommerce growth spiked during the pandemic, now downshifting to less-dramatic but more consistent growth

30%: Compound annual growth rate Forrester predicts for food and beverage online sales through 2024, making it the fastest-growing online sales category.35

  • Food and beverage should drive 17% of all U.S. ecommerce sales in 2024
  • In 2019, food and beverage online sales growth was 32%. In 2020, the percentage more than doubled by 75%. Pets was the second-highest growth category in 2020 with 46% online sales growth.

84%: Percentage increase in Walmart grocery sales in 2020 (for a total of $27.13 billion). The company triumphed over Amazon, which experienced grocery sales growth of 63.1% (for a total of $25.79 billion). In 2021, Walmart holds more than 25% of the grocery market in the U.S.36

17%: Increase in percentage of companies using Instacart in 202035

Nearly 200%: Online percentage increase for 2020 sales growth at Kroger, Walmart, and Target. (COVID-19 had a lot to do with it!)35

The (sort of) irony is that groceries aren't super profitable for retailers. Grocery stores typically have profit margins of 2% or less (usually, it’s less!). The increasing focus on user-friendly apps, delivery logistics, especially last-mile delivery, and other issues arising from ecommerce cuts into these already thin margins.

  • In some good news, 85% of BOPIS shoppers (buy online, pick up in store) spring for at least one more additional purchase when heading in stores to pick up orders.37

20: Number of ecommerce fulfillment centers Kroger plans in the U.S. It opened its first in April 2021 in Monroe, Ohio.38

  • The center runs to 375,000 square feet and uses automation, robotics, and artificial intelligence.
  • More than 1,000 robots navigate 3-D grids with totes for customer orders
  • 20: Number of orders that temperature-controlled Kroger delivery vans can store at the same time

At the end of fiscal 2020, Kroger had:

  • Pickup and delivery coverage for 98% of the households in areas it serves
  • 2,223 pickup sites38
  • 2,472 stores with the ability to deliver online orders

40: Number of Albertsons-owned stores participating in a grocery pickup pilot program with Instacart in the southwestern U.S.39

Net 320: Number of new Drive Up & Go Albertsons locations in the first-quarter 2021 for a total of 1,740 (as of Aug. 25, 2021)39

2: Number of stores Whole Foods will open in 2022 to debut Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology in which customers check themselves out. One store will be in Washington, D.C., the other in Sherman Oaks, Calif. The technology enables shoppers to enter, shop for their items, and exit the store.40

  • Amazon One is a payment option and uses people’s unique palm signatures. Shoppers hover their palm using Amazon One before entering the store.
  • Other payment options include scanning the QR code in the Amazon app or the Whole Foods Market app before entering.
  • Lower-tech payment options such as gift cards and cash will be available, too.

$46 million: Amount of seed capital Buyk raised for U.S. expansion efforts. The company is part of a wave of businesses doing ultrafast grocery delivery in Manhattan. They use micro-warehouses within 15 minutes’ biking/electric scooter distance to customer addresses. Customers use a shopping app to put in orders.41

Impact of COVID-19 on Food and Beverage Ecommerce

COVID-19 compelled many consumers, especially seniors, to try grocery ecommerce services for 1st time Online grocery ordering, pickup, and delivery increased during the pandemic. For instance:

  • 2020: 52% of shoppers had bought groceries online42
  • 2021: 64% had
  • 29% of consumers place weekly orders, representing an increase in frequency of grocery shopping. It also represents almost a fifth of all U.S. adults.
  • 33% of grocery shoppers use subscription services that guarantee a baseline group of groceries and staples

The number of adults 76 and older ordering food online nearly doubled. This demographic was particularly likely to try online food shopping for the first time during the pandemic. (People in this age group were more vulnerable than others to the disease and stayed home more.)

Pre-pandemic and during

  • Pre-pandemic, 84% of adults in the U.S. shopped in stores for groceries43
  • During, 70% of adults did
  • 16% of adults now say they primarily shop digitally for groceries
  • 12% say they’re about equal in-store and digital shopping for groceries

Ordering directly with the grocery store is most popular option

  • 45% of grocery shoppers placed direct store orders42
  • 31% used Instacart
  • 28% chose Doordash
  • 26% used Uber
  • 16% used Postmates
  • 11% chose Shipt
  • 3% went with other options

66.5 million households: Bought groceries online in July 2021, representing a nearly 5% jump from June44

4.5 and 1.8 times greater: Sales levels for pickup/delivery and ship to home in July 2021 compared with pre-COVID sales in August 201944

July 2021 was the 4th consecutive month of decreasing total spending on online groceries. It represented a continuing dip after stronger highs during COVID-19 lockdowns.

  • The peak of $9.3 billion was in March44
  • In July, spending was $6.7 billion. That was a drop of $100 million, or about 2%, from June
  • Most of the July decline was due to an 8% decrease in ship-to-home spending. Volume for pickups remained steady, while orders for local delivery went down just a bit

Holiday Ecommerce Stats, Including Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Christmas

The “Cyber Five" days start with Thanksgiving and include Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Sunday, and Cyber Monday.

Cyber Monday generated the highest online retail revenue in 2020

  1. Cyber Monday - $12.16 billion (an all-time high)45
  2. Black Friday - $10.23 billion
  3. Thanksgiving - $5.86 billion
  4. Sunday - $5.06 billion
  5. Small Business Saturday - $4.90 billion

Online stores lead in Christmas gift purchases In November 2020, shoppers were asked where they buy their Christmas gifts. Online retailers came out on top. (That said, the poll was online, so there may be a bit of an internet-leaning bias among respondents.)

  • Online stores, 63%46
  • Department stores, 54%
  • Christmas markets, 27%
  • Arts and crafts markets, 18%
  • Stationery stores, 15%
  • Flea markets, 14%
  • Other, 10%
  • None of the above, 4%

Shoppers prefer to buy from 1 store vs. multiple

  • 56% of shoppers prefer to buy Christmas gifts via one single platform (for example, Amazon.com or Walmart.com)47
  • 35% buy through separate platforms
  • 9% don’t know

Amazon is top destination for Christmas gifts Consumers gave these answers when asked which stores they frequent for Christmas gifts:

  1. Amazon - 91%48
  2. Walmart.com - 52%
  3. Target.com - 38%
  4. Ebay - 24%
  5. Bestbuy.com - 23%
  6. Apple - 20%
  7. Kohls.com - 17%
  8. Macys.com - 12%
  9. Chewy.com - 9%
  10. Costco.com - 9%
  11. Homedepot.com - 8%
  12. Gap.com - 6%
  13. Wayfair.com - 5%
  14. Lowes.com - 5%
  15. Kroger.com - 4%
  16. Qvc.com - 4%
  17. Huckberry.com - 3%
  18. Newegg.com - 2%
  19. Other - 11%
  20. Don't know - 2%

Consumers enjoy less stress with online Christmas shopping In a survey, shoppers were asked whether a factor such as less stress and cheap price represents online shopping.

  • Less stress - 58% said yes49
  • Payment options - 57% said yes
  • To enjoy shopping - 54% said yes
  • Convenience - 51% said yes
  • Selection of products - 48% said yes
  • Comparability - 48% said yes
  • Inspiration/brainstorming - 42% said yes
  • Cheap price - 37% said yes
  • Information on the product - 37% said yes
  • Availability of products - 28% said yes

Free shipping incentivizes holiday shoppers As eMarketer's Andrew Lipsman said in 2019, “Free shipping has always been the primary incentive during holiday promotions, particularly around Cyber Monday, and online shoppers have grown very accustomed to receiving it."

  • Week of Nov. 4, 2018: 79% of desktop ecommerce transactions involved free shipping50
  • Weeks of Nov. 25 and Dec. 2, 2018: 87% of desktop ecommerce transactions had free shipping, representing the peak that season

Shipping cost plays a role in most purchases

  • 72% of U.S. shoppers said in January 2019 that free shipping greatly affects their purchase decision50
  • 25% said it had somewhat of an impact
  • 3% said free shipping was not a consideration

We expect free shipping to be quicker now

  • In January 2019, consumers were willing to wait 4.3 days, maximum, to receive free-shipping purchases50
  • In 2014, they were willing to wait longer, at 5.4 days

The impact of COVID-19 on 2020 November-December holiday sales

  • 25.7%: Ecommerce share of November and December 2020 sales
    • 19.2% in 2019; 11.3% in 201445
  • $201.32 billion: The amount shoppers spent online in November and December 2020 vs. $138.65 billion in 2019 (45.2% increase)
  • Online orders accounted for more than $1 of every $4 spent on retail purchases
  • A holiday season without COVID-19 probably would have led to consumers spending $159.78 billion online

Back-to-school e-commerce sales in 2021 stay up

  • More than 13% growth in 2021 for a total of $41.26 billion51
  • Ecommerce back-to-school sales increased 25.9% in 2020 amid the pandemic (for a total of $36.42 billion)

Prime Day perhaps a bit less exciting in 202152,53

  • In 2021, Prime Day was a 48-hour event on June 21 and 22
  • Average 2021 order was $52.33; was $54.34 in 2020
  • Estimated $9.55 billion gross sales, an increase of 7% from 2020
  • 250 million items sold in 2021 vs. 175 million in 2019
  • Prime Day in 2020 was in October, so proximity to the holiday season may have spurred 2020 sales. 2021’s event came just eight months later and had fewer new countries

Mcommerce (Mobile Ecommerce)

  • 41.4%: Percentage growth in 2020 for retail mcommerce in the U.S.54
  • 15.2%: Expected growth in 2021 (to reach $359.32 billion)
  • 10.4%: Percentage of total retail sales mcommerce should make up in 2025
  • 5.9%: Percentage of total retail sales mcommerce makes up in 2021

Between 2021 and 2025, mcommerce sales are expected to nearly double. Factors for growth include these:

  • More daily purchases such as those for groceries (a trend propelled forward by the pandemic)
  • Apple Pay, Google Pay, and other one-touch systems
  • AR, 5G, and other technologies
  • New or expanded channels such as social commerce (social media commerce), influencer direct selling, and live shopping

The Darker Sides of of Ecommerce (Accessibility, Fraud, Returning Items)

Ecommerce has its downsides. For instance, returning items is a pain. The most troubling issue, though, may be accessibility. Fraud is a significant problem, too.

Accessibility: Many shoppers prefer ecommerce over in-person shopping due to accessibility BUT...

Much work remains to be done. Of course, ecommerce has obvious advantages that in-person shopping does not. For instance, shoppers with mobility issues may prefer to have groceries and other products delivered to their home so they do not have to go out and physically buy them.

The most well-known ecommerce accessibility case is perhaps that of Guillermo Robles. He could not order Domino's pizza through its website or app, even when he used screen reader technology (since he is blind). The reality is that websites and apps are not dependably accessible.

94% of the 33 top-grossing ecommerce sites are not fully compliant with four core accessibility guidelines

  • 82% have accessibility issues with images55
  • 73% do with links
  • 58% do with form field markup
  • 64% struggle with keyboard navigation accessibility
  • REI, a sports equipment company, was compliant in all four areas in Baymard Institute research. So was clothing company H&M
  • Retailers that failed in all four areas include Home Depot, Ann Taylor, Crate & Barrel, John Lewis, Wayfair, Macys, Nordstrom, Sears, Northern Tools, Kohls, Williams-Sonoma, and Lowes

More than 66% of the top 500 online retailers were named in web or app accessibility cases from 2017 to 2019. More than 40% of that 66% dealt with more than one lawsuit.56

26% of U.S. adults have at least one disability

  • Mobility, 12.4%57
  • Cognitive, 11.5%
  • Independent living disability, 6.8%
  • Hearing, 5.9%
  • Vision, 5%
  • Self-care disability, 3.5%

Most common accessibility failures, top 1 million homepages worldwide (Feb. 2020)

  • 86.3%, low-contrast text58
  • 66%, missing alt. text for images
  • 59.9%, empty links
  • 53.8%, missing form input labels
  • 28.7%, empty buttons
  • 28%, missing document language

3 states led in digital accessibility lawsuits (2020)

  1. New York, 49.5%56
  2. California, 27.9%
  3. Florida, 15.3%
  4. Other states, 7.3%

Web accessibility lawsuits are expected to increase 19.8% in 2021 (from 3,503 to 4,195).59

Lack of accessibility drives customers away

  • More than 80% of shoppers with disabilities spend money at the most accessible retailers, not those with the cheapest products60
  • 82% of customers would spend more money if websites were more accessible
  • 71% of customers with disabilities leave websites that are inaccessible

Other disadvantages of ecommerce

Fraud and scams are common, affecting both shoppers and businesses Online shopping: Number-two most common fraud category in 2020 based on FTC reports, especially given COVID-19 (imposter scams are #1)61 Consumers had reported losses of about $246 million due to online shopping fraud

$1 of fraud in 2020 cost $3.73 for mid-to-large ecommerce retailers specializing in digital goods (an increase of 8.7% from 2019); it was $3.38 per $1 for ecommerce merchants selling just physical products (an increase of 8.7% from 2019). Small ecommerce merchants had an 8.4% increase in fraud.62,63

  • Nexis Lexis classifies a merchant as small if it makes less than $10 million revenue annually
  • 50% of merchants say that speedy transaction approval is a top challenge for web transactions; 58% say it's a mobile challenge
  • Recognizing fake online identities is a challenge for 49% of web transactions; 67% for mobile
  • 4 common types of ecommerce fraud are chargebacks, friendly fraud (40% to 80% of all fraud losses; is when consumers request refunds from their banks and not the business where they made a purchase; can be accidental or intentional), gaming and wireless, and account takeover

It’s a pain to ship items back In a survey, consumers identified their biggest pain points when they return ecommerce items. Most issues relate to shipping.

  • Must pay to ship items back - 26%64
  • Must drop package at mail facility - 25%
  • Difficulty of making an exchange - 23%
  • Must repackage item - 12%
  • Refund takes too long - 8%
  • Must print shipping label - 6%

On a lighter note, there’s the spelling of ecommerce… Even the word “ecommerce" lends itself to multiple spellings. At least seven variations are common:

  1. e-commerce
  2. E-commerce
  3. E-Commerce
  4. ecommerce
  5. Ecommerce
  6. eCommerce
  7. e commerce

And that is where this guide ends, at least for now!

References and Endnotes

  1. Coppola, Daniela. (2021, Sept. 04). Quarterly U.S. E-Commerce Retail Sales 2009-2021. Statista. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/187443/quarterly-e-commerce-sales-in-the-the-us/
  2. Lanteri, Stefani. (2020, April 24). Why Online Shopping Needs to Get Personal. GWI. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://blog.gwi.com/marketing/why-online-shopping-needs-to-get-personal/
  3. Barkho, Gabriela. (2021, Aug. 20). Target’s Circle Rewards Program Hits 100 million Members. Modern Retail. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://www.modernretail.co/retailers/targets-circle-rewards-program-hits-100-million-members/
  4. Chevalier, Stephanie. (2021, July 07). Number of Amazon Prime Members in the United States in Selected Quarters from 4th Quarter 2014 to 1st Quarter 2021. Statista. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/1223385/amazon-prime-subscribers-in-the-united-states/
  5. Repko, Melissa. (2021, May 17). All Eyes on Walmart+: Investors Want to Know If Service Is Creating More Loyal Customers. CNBC. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://www.cnbc.com/2021/05/17/all-eyes-on-walmart-when-retailer-reports-1q-earnings-tuesday-.html
  6. Davidkhanian, Suzy. (2021, July 30). More US Consumers Likely to Continue Shopping Via Ecommerce Subscription Models. eMarketer. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://www.emarketer.com/content/more-us-consumers-ecommerce-subscription-models
  7. Strailey, Jennifer. (2021, Aug. 24). Shipt Personalizes Customer Delivery Experience. Winsight. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://www.winsightgrocerybusiness.com/retailers/shipt-personalizes-customer-delivery-experience
  8. Wigder, Zia Daniell, Lipsman, Andrew, and Davidkhanian, Suzy. (2021, Aug. 20). A New Era in Retail and Ecommerce Is Beginning. eMarketer. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://www.emarketer.com/content/new-era-retail-ecommerce-emerging
  9. Lipsman, Andrew. (2021, Feb. 03). Social Commerce 2021. eMarketer. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://www.emarketer.com/content/social-commerce-2021
  10. Chevalier, Stephanie. (2021, July 22). Social Commerce Sales in the United States from 2020 to 2025. Statista. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/277045/us-social-commerce-revenue-forecast/
  11. Lebow, Sara. (2021, Aug. 26). Pinterest Pines for More Social Buyers. eMarketer. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://www.emarketer.com/content/pinterest-pines-more-social-buyers
  12. Chevalier, Stephanie. (2021, Aug. 03). Number of Facebook Social Commerce Buyers in the United States from 2019 to 2025. Statista. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/1254994/number-facebook-social-buyers-united-states/
  13. Share of Product Categories Consumers Purchased Through Social Media in the United States in 2020. (2021, Aug. 04). Statista. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/1226453/ranking-of-products-consumers-purchased-via-social-media-united-states/
  14. Chevalier, Stephanie. (2021, Aug. 31). Social Commerce in the United States - Statistics & Facts. Statista. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://www.statista.com/topics/1280/social-commerce/
  15. Status of Social Commerce Report 2021. (2021, March). The Influencer Marketing Factory. PDF. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://theinfluencermarketingfactory.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/social-commerce-report.pdf
  16. Geyser, Werner. (Last updated 2021, Aug. 18). The State of Influencer Marketing 2021: Benchmark Report. Influencer Marketing Hub. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://influencermarketinghub.com/influencer-marketing-benchmark-report-2021/
  17. Lebow, Sara. (2021. Sept. 03). Uber and Lyft Race to Corner the US Ride-Sharing Market. eMarketer. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://www.emarketer.com/content/uber-lyft-race-corner-us-ride-sharing-market
  18. Demand for Fast and Innovative Delivery Persists amid the Pandemic. (2020, May 26). eMarketer. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://www.emarketer.com/content/demand-for-fast-and-innovative-delivery-persists-amid-the-pandemic
  19. eMarketer Snapshot: US Commerce 2020. (2020, March). eMarketer. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://on.emarketer.com/Snapshot-20200326-USCommerce-Neustar_Busemaillandingpage.html
  20. von Abrams, Karin. (2021, July 14). These Are the Top Global Ecommerce Markets. eMarketer. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://www.emarketer.com/content/top-global-ecommerce-markets
  21. Coppola, Daniela. (2021, Aug. 23). In-Store and E-Commerce Retail Sales Share in the United States Between 2021 and 2025. Statista. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/829220/share-of-retail-sales-by-channel-us/
  22. Chevalier, Stephanie. (2021, July 7). Online Sources Used by Consumers Worldwide to Start Searching for Products as of March 2020. Statista. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/1034209/global-product-search-online-sources/
  23. Chevalier, Stephanie. (2021, Aug. 5). Average Value of Online Shopping Orders in the United States as of 2nd Quarter 2020 and 2nd Quarter 2021, By Device. Statista. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/439516/us-online-shopping-order-values-by-device/
  24. Chevalier, Stephanie. (2021, July 8). Distribution of Retail Website Visits and Orders Worldwide as of 1st Quarter 2021, By Device. Statista. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/568684/e-commerce-website-visit-and-orders-by-device/
  25. Best Buy Will Be the Only Top US Retailer to See Ecommerce Sales Drop in 2021. (2021, July 08). eMarketer. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://www.emarketer.com/content/best-buy-only-top-us-retailer-ecommerce-sales-decline-2021
  26. Peters, Lukas. (2021, March 04). Top Online Stores in the United States in 2019, By E-Commerce Net Sales. Statista. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://www.statista.com/forecasts/646030/united-states-top-online-stores-united-states-ecommercedb
  27. Droesch, Blake. (2021, March 24). Here Are the Top 10 US Ecommerce Companies for 2021—Plus 6 Key Takeaways from Our Latest Forecast. eMarketer. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://www.emarketer.com/content/top-10-us-ecommerce-companies-2021-plus-6-key-takeaways-our-latest-forecast
  28. Store Ranking & Overview. (n.d.) ecommerceDB. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://ecommercedb.com/en/ranking/us/food-beverages
  29. Store Ranking & Overview. (n.d.) ecommerceDB. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://ecommercedb.com/en/ranking/us/consumer-electronics
  30. Store Ranking & Overview. (n.d.) ecommerceDB. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://ecommercedb.com/en/ranking/us/fashion
  31. Store Ranking & Overview. (n.d.) ecommerceDB. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://ecommercedb.com/en/ranking/us/diy-garden-pets
  32. Coppola, Daniela. (2021, Aug. 04). Online Shopping Cart Abandonment Rate in Selected Industries in March 2020. Statista. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/457078/category-cart-abandonment-rate-worldwide/
  33. Coppola, Daniela. (2021, July 07). Primary Reason for Digital Shoppers in the United States to Abandon Their Carts as of November 2018. Statista. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/379508/primary-reason-for-digital-shoppers-to-abandon-carts/
  34. Lebow, Sara. (Sept. 09, 2021). Ecommerce Will Remain the Fastest-Growing Segment of the US Grocery Market. eMarketer. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://www.emarketer.com/content/ecommerce-will-remain-fastest-growing-segment-of-us-grocery-market
  35. Wells, Jeff. (2021, July 12). Food and Beverage Will Lead Online Sales Growth Through 2024, Forrester Says. Grocery Dive. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://www.grocerydive.com/news/food-and-beverage-will-lead-online-sales-growth-through-2024-forrester-say/603161/
  36. Lebow, Sara. (2021, Sept. 02). Walmart Has Cornered More Than 25% of the US grocery Ecommerce Market. eMarketer. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://www.emarketer.com/content/walmart-has-cornered-more-than-25-of-us-grocery-ecommerce-market
  37. Sax, Heidi. (2021, June 11). Grocers Are Posting Record Sales ...But Where Are the Profits? Retail Info Systems. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://risnews.com/grocers-are-posting-record-sales-where-are-profits
  38. Crets, Stephanie. (2021, May 12). Kroger Opens Its First Robotic Ecommerce Fulfillment Center. Digital Commerce 360. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://www.digitalcommerce360.com/2021/05/12/kroger-opens-its-first-robotic-ecommerce-fulfillment-center/
  39. Strailey, Jennifer. (2021, Aug. 25). Pickup Artists: Albertsons, Instacart Pilot on New Curbside Program. Winsight Grocery Business. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://www.winsightgrocerybusiness.com/retailers/pickup-artists-albertsons-instacart-pilot-new-curbside-program
  40. Strailey, Jennifer. (2021, Sept. 08). Check Out Yourself: Whole Foods to Debut Amazon's Just Walk Out Tech in Two Stores. Winsight Grocery Business. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://www.winsightgrocerybusiness.com/retailers/check-out-yourself-whole-foods-debut-amazons-just-walk-out-tech-two-stores
  41. Springer, Jon. (2021, Aug. 30). Buyk Hits the Streets As Instant-Delivery Grocery Field Continues to Swell. Winsight Grocery Business. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://www.winsightgrocerybusiness.com/retailers/buyk-hits-streets-instant-delivery-grocery-field-continues-swell
  42. Hurtig, Kristina. (2021, May 25). 3 Big Trends From FMI’s 2021 Grocery Shopper Report. Winsight Grocery Business. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://www.winsightgrocerybusiness.com/industry-partners/3-big-trends-fmis-2021-grocery-shopper-report
  43. Lebow, Sara. (2021, Sept. 03). The Pandemic Has Changed the Way People Shop for Groceries. eMarketer. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://www.emarketer.com/content/pandemic-has-changed-way-people-shop-groceries
  44. Springer, Jon. (2021, Aug. 23). Online Grocery Spending Dips Slightly as Consumers Adjust. Winsight Grocery Business. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://www.winsightgrocerybusiness.com/industry-partners/online-grocery-spending-dips-slightly-consumers-adjust
  45. Young, Jessica. (2021, Jan. 18). Online Holiday Sales Grow North of 45% in 2020. Digital Commerce 360. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://www.digitalcommerce360.com/article/online-holiday-sales/
  46. Kunst, Alexander. (2020, Dec. 14). Where Do You Buy Your Christmas Gifts? Statista. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/1075514/preferred-purchase-locations-for-christmas-gifts-in-the-united-states/
  47. Kunst,Alexander. (2020, Dec. 14). When You Buy Gifts Online, How Do You Prefer to Buy Them? Statista. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/1076654/preferred-online-store-types-for-christmas-gift-shopping-in-the-united-states/
  48. Kunst, Alexander. (2020, Dec. 14). From Which Online Stores Do You Buy Your Christmas Gifts? Statista. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/1075363/preferred-online-store-for-christmas-gift-shopping-in-the-united-states/
  49. Kunst, Alexander. (2020, Dec. 14). Considering the Christmas Season, Which of the Following Characteristics Stand Rather for Online Shopping in Your Opinion? Statista. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/1076658/perceived-advantages-of-online-christmas-shopping-in-the-united-states/
  50. Koch, Lucy. (2019, Sept. 18). Etsy’s Ad Campaign Promotes New Free Shipping Strategy—a Must Have for Holiday Shoppers. eMarketer. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://www.emarketer.com/content/etsy-ad-campaign-promotes-new-free-shipping-strategy-a-must-have-for-holiday-shoppers
  51. Carnahan, Daniel. (2021, July 05). US Back-to-School Ecommerce Sales Will Grow More than 13% This Year. eMarketer. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://www.emarketer.com/content/back-to-school-ecommerce-sales-will-grow-another-10-this-year
  52. Palmer, Annie. (2021, June 24). Amazon’s Prime Day Sales Were ‘Soft’ Compared with Last Year, Bank of America says. CNBC. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://www.cnbc.com/2021/06/24/amazon-prime-day-2021-sales-growth-was-soft-compared-to-2020-bofa.html
  53. Droesch, Blake. (2021, July 23). Prime Day 2021 Recap: Tempered Growth and Changes in Shopping Behavior Show Signs of the Event’s Maturity. eMarketer. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://www.emarketer.com/content/prime-day-2021-recap-tempered-growth-changes-shopping-behavior
  54. Wurmser, Yoram. (2021, Aug. 04). Mcommerce Forecast 2021. eMarketer. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://www.emarketer.com/content/mcommerce-forecast-2021
  55. Krzyminski, Alex. (2021, June 29). 94% of the Largest E-Commerce Sites Are Not Accessibility Compliant. Baymard Institute. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://baymard.com/blog/accessibility-benchmark-launch
  56. Melton, James. (2021, March 30). Web Accessibility Lawsuits Grow and Retailers Are the Main Targets. Digital Commerce 360. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://www.digitalcommerce360.com/2021/03/30/web-accessibility-lawsuits-grow-and-retailers-are-the-main-targets/
  57. Petrock, Victoria. (2020, Nov. 05). Getting Accessible Marketing Right. eMarketer. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://www.emarketer.com/content/getting-accessible-marketing-right
  58. Petrock, Victoria. (2020, Dec. 02). Pandemic Presents New Opportunities to Boost Accessibility. eMarketer. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://www.emarketer.com/content/pandemic-presents-new-opportunities-boost-accessibility
  59. Melton, James. (2021, July 07). Web Accessibility Lawsuits on Track to Increase Nearly 20% in 2021. Digital Commerce 360. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://www.digitalcommerce360.com/2021/07/07/web-accessibility-lawsuits-on-track-to-increase-nearly-20-in-2021/
  60. Click-Away Pound Survey 2016 - Final Report. (2016). Click-Away Pound. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from http://www.clickawaypound.com/cap16finalreport.html
  61. New Data Shows FTC Received 2.2 Million Fraud Reports from Consumers in 2020. (2021, Feb. 04). FTC. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2021/02/new-data-shows-ftc-received-2-2-million-fraud-reports-consumers
  62. Columbus, Louis. (2020, May 18). How E-Commerce’s Explosive Growth Is Attracting Fraud. Forbes. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/louiscolumbus/2020/05/18/how-e-commerces-explosive-growth-is-attracting-fraud/
  63. Evans, Katie. (2020, July 27). The Cost of Fraud Is Up 7% for US Merchants. Digital Commerce 360. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://www.digitalcommerce360.com/2020/07/27/the-cost-of-fraud-is-up-7-for-us-merchants/
  64. Goodwin, Emily. (2020, Dec. 29). Returning Online Orders Aggravates Consumers, but Walmart Sets a New Precedent for Holidays. Civic Science. Retrieved Sept. 14, 2021, from https://civicscience.com/returning-online-orders-aggravates-consumers-but-walmart-sets-a-new-precedent-for-holidays/