E-commerce continues to account for a growing share of retail sales: it now represents over 10% worldwide. Online shopping is often done using mobile devices, and multichannel sales are no longer confined to physical retailers. And now industry giants Amazon and Alibaba are starting to open up their own brick-and-mortar shops, with an aggressive investment strategy.

Growth accelerating…

The global e-commerce retail market continues to enjoy steady growth. Total sales in 2017 are estimated at around 2,800 billion EUR, and forecast to climb to 4,300 billion EUR in 2021 (+11.4% on average per year). China and the United States are still the market leaders, together accounting for more than half of the world’s e-commerce sales. While rising consumption will soon reach saturation in developed countries, it will continue to post double-digit increases in emerging markets, thanks to an ongoing rise in Internet user numbers and mobile penetration, and as incomes climb in these regions. Asia/Pacific and Latin America are thus forecast to see an annual average of more than 14% growth up to 2021.

… especially around mobile…

M-commerce represents a 35% share of e-commerce sales revenue worldwide, and will continue to enjoy double-digit growth in the years ahead. Consumers in emerging countries have already adopted it, ahead of people in the West. In China, over half of all e-commerce sales are on a mobile device. India is another prime example of the massive potential of m-commerce, with 10.3 billion EUR in revenue in 2017. Sales in traditional retail chains and on the fixed Internet have not developed significantly in India, so m-commerce is expected to maintain its remarkable 28% annual growth for years to come.

… and multichannel retail in general

Multichannel sales have become vital to e-commerce players and traditional retailers alike. One novelty we are seeing is e-commerce players moving offline, the goal being to combine online and traditional shopping for an optimal buying process that guarantees the best possible customer experience, from product selection to returns, regardless of the channel used by the customer.

Amazon and Alibaba still have a slight edge on innovation

Amazon has developed its traditional retail experience with the acquisition of Whole Foods Market and the launch of Amazon Go, the supermarket without checkouts. Alibaba has inaugurated Tao Cafe, a shop with no staff, and has opened ten Alibaba Hema supermarkets in China. At a time when online and offline shopping experiences are merging, mobile payment has become a vital ingredient. And Amazon Go and Tao Cafe customers have responded very positively to the ability to do their shopping and not have to go through the tedium of the checkout line.

E-commerce sales are increasingly undertaken through mobile
Asia/Pacific still the biggest e-commerce market