Asia-Pacific poised to surpass North America in B2C ecommerce spending
In 2012, B2C ecommerce sales grew 21.1% to top $1 trillion for the first time, according to new global estimates by eMarketer.
This year, sales will grow 18.3% to $1.298 trillion worldwide, eMarketer estimates, as Asia-Pacific surpasses North America to become the world's No. 1 market for B2C ecommerce sales.
Sales in North America grew 13.9% to a world-leading $364.66 billion in 2012—a figure expected to increase 12.2% to $409.05 billion this year—as more consumers shifted spending from physical stores to retail and travel websites thanks to lower prices, greater convenience, broader selection and richer product information. But despite strong growth, North America’s share of global sales will drop from 33.5% last year to 31.5% in 2013 as Asia-Pacific surges ahead.
B2C ecommerce sales in Asia-Pacific grew more than 33% to $332.46 billion in 2012. This year, the region will see sales increase by more than 30% to over $433 billion—or more than one-third of all global B2C ecommerce sales.
The rapid growth in Asia-Pacific sales is a result of several factors. Three Asia-Pacific markets—China, India and Indonesia—will see faster B2C ecommerce sales growth than all other markets worldwide this year, while Japan will continue to take a large share of global sales.
China, unsurprisingly, is the primary driver of growth in the region. The country will surpass Japan as the world’s second-largest B2C ecommerce market this year, taking an estimated 14% share of global sales, as its total reaches $181.62 billion, up 65% from $110.04 billion in 2012.
The US will remain the single country with the largest share of worldwide B2C ecommerce spending, at 29.6% in 2013—down from 31.5% in 2012 despite relatively strong growth. This will continue throughout the forecast period, though China is closing the gap fast. In 2016, China will have 22.6% of the worldwide market, vs. 26.5% in the US.
China also boasts the highest number of people who buy goods online in the world—nearly 220 million in 2012, according to eMarketer—a result of increasing internet penetration; a burgeoning middle class with growing trust in online shopping; government-driven campaigns to promote consumerism; as well as improved infrastructure, product selection and services offered by online sellers and retailers.
According to eMarketer, B2C ecommerce sales in the US will grow 12% to $384.80 billion in 2013—after growing 13.8% to $343.43 billion last year—as average B2C ecommerce sales per user reach $2,466 this year among those who buy goods online in the US.
Average spending per user is lower in China—set to reach just $670 this year, eMarketer estimates—but the sheer growth in China’s digital buyers is staggering. The country will nearly double the number of people who buy goods online between 2012 and 2016, eMarketer estimates, resulting in considerable upside for B2C ecommerce sales in China through the forecast period.
A Bottom-Up Approach to Evaluating the Global Ecommerce Market
eMarketer is relatively distinct in its methodology for global B2C ecommerce sales. The company forms its figures through an analysis of various elements related to ecommerce sales—including macro-level economic conditions, population figures, internet and broadband adoption, consumer attitudes, historical trends in online sales, survey data from third parties, and estimates from other research firms, investment banks and other forecasters—at a country and regional level before building its worldwide model.
For example, when evaluating overall B2C ecommerce sales in China, eMarketer considered data points from dozens of sources on top-line sales, growth, online buyers, online buyer penetration, internet usage, and other trends—including, but not limited to, those included on the charts above and below—before forming its own forecast.
In all, eMarketer analyzed more than 1,100 data sets from over 130 research sources—whose ecommerce figures are each tracked and evaluated by eMarketer based on their respective methodologies, definitions and historical accuracy—looking at more than 22 markets and six major regions, before forming its worldwide figures.
eMarketer tracks and re-evaluates many of its estimates more than once per year. When an estimate is re-evaluated and found to be unchanged from the previous estimate, it is marked as "confirmed and republished" as of the later date.