20 Online Shopping Statistics to Keep in Mind in 2021

20 Online Shopping Statistics to Keep in Mind in 2021
Ivan Kreimer
Ivan Kreimer Jan 22, 2021 — 10 min read

To say the year 2020 was a year of changes would be an understatement. The Covid-19 pandemic forced large portions of the world to move their habits to their homes — and that includes their shopping habits.

Not only was it nearly impossible to shop in brick-and-mortar stores due to severe lockdowns and the health risks involved in doing so, but also, online shopping has become more convenient than ever.

A mix of faster, cheaper, and more reliable shipping policies with almost limitless options available in every shopping category imaginable has made online shopping the new normal.

To illustrate this point further, we will look at the following 20 online shopping statistics that will prove that the year 2021 will continue to be a year of changes.

5 Key online shopping statistics

The ecommerce industry hasn't stopped growing since the mid-1990s. The latest statistics show that the ecommerce industry will continue to grow its market share within the retail industry as a whole, reaching 22% of all retail sales worldwide by 2023.

While convincing a consumer to make a purchase online used to be a battle of its own, nowadays, most online consumers are used to the idea of buying a product online.

According to a survey by PYMNTS, 36% of American consumers purchase retail goods online, while 62% do so at least once a month.

With these changes taking place as you read this, several key facts are bound to happen in the following years, which will define the industry’s future.

US-based online sales will generate $1.2 trillion by the year 2024

U.S. retail e-commerce sales are forecasted to generate $1.2 trillion in sales by the year 2024, a 51% increase compared to 2020, which eMarketer estimates to have generated $794 billion in sales.

US retail ecommerce sales chart 2018-2024 by eMarketer

That means the entire ecommerce industry will continue to grow uninterruptedly for the next four years, a fact that will continue to drive an ever-increasing number of entrepreneurs to launch and grow their online retail stores.

What’s more, the number of online shoppers in the US is projected to reach 230.5 million in 2021 — that is, 70% of the entire US population — keeping the US as one of the leading ecommerce markets in terms of online shopper penetration.

The ecommerce industry will generate $7 trillion in sales worldwide by 2024

The U.S. market isn’t the only one that will see high growth in the years ahead. According to data from GroupM, global retail ecommerce sales will amount to $7 trillion by 2024, 25% of retail sales, and $10 trillion by 2027.

The Asia Pacific region will dominate the ecommerce industry

While the US has been and will continue to be one of the leading markets in the ecommerce industry, new regions have started to show signs of high market penetration levels.

From the different regions, one that seems to be the one to take the lead as the main ecommerce market is the Asian Pacific region, which includes China, Japan, and Thailand, among other nations.

According to IPC, the Asia Pacific regional share will increase to reach two-thirds of the entire global ecommerce industry, while North America and Western Europe’s share will decrease proportionately.

Ecommerce industry regional domination - 2021 forecast

B2B ecommerce will become an influential category

The largest ecommerce companies in the world sell directly to consumers — think of Amazon, eBay, Walmart in the U.S., or JD.com (China), MercadoLibre (Latin America), Zalando (Europe), and Jumia (Africa).

However, Forrester Research estimates the B2B ecommerce industry is expected to reach $1.8 trillion in sales, accounting for 17% of all B2B sales in the U.S. by 2023.

Covid-19 led to greater shopping frequency

Covid-19 caused significant disruptions in the world’s economy. Companies in almost every industry from every size faced tough challenges in their operations — yet, for the ecommerce industry, the pandemic was a blessing in disguise.

According to DealAid, more than 90% of consumers reported increased online shopping frequency after Covid-19 started.

Online shopping stats showing that 90% of consumers have increased shopping activity since the beginning of Covid-19

While this is poised to change, and everything will go back to normal sooner or later, the pandemic has pushed the ecommerce industry ahead, leading its charge against brick-and-mortar businesses.

Cross-border sales are growing fast

Most ecommerce businesses sell within their geographic boundaries — American stores sell to Americans, German stores sell to Germans, and so on.

The logistics of delivering products cross-border, plus linguistics, cultural, and demographic differences, are some of the largest issues that stop most ecommerce businesses from doing so.

Differences notwithstanding, the cross-border B2C e-commerce market is predicted to reach $4.8 billion in sales by 2026, a considerable size of the total online shopping market share.

5 new online consumer behaviors to watch out for

Just as tastes and technology change, consumer behaviors change as well. The following five cases are new online shopping trends you should keep an eye out for.

Last-mile delivery grows in value

The way you deliver your products matters as much as the product itself. Consumers don’t just want a flawless shopping experience; they also want the delivery to be equally exceptional.

According to a white paper by Retail TouchPoints, 84% of shoppers are unlikely to shop with a brand again after a poor delivery experience, and 98.1% say that delivery impacts their brand loyalty.

60% of consumers trust chatbots for their shopping needs

A few years ago, chatbots came as one of the largest discussion topics in the marketing community. Many reports indicated that chatbots were superior to email marketing and would disrupt the marketing world. While such predictions haven’t been met, recent studies show people have started to use chatbots as a shopping assistant.

A LivePerson's study found that 60% of consumers stated they would purchase more from a website that offered a chatbot concierge.

Simultaneously, 77% indicated they trust chatbots to take down their name and address information, and 76% said they trust them to help choose products.

Over 75% of consumers trust chatbots with their personal information while shopping online

A Juniper Research report estimates that chatbot-based spending will grow from $2.8 billion in 2019 to $142 billion by 2024—an average annual growth of 400%. The report explains that the main cause for such an increase in chatbot use comes from recent advances in NLU (Natural Language Understanding) technologies.

The report also anticipates that over 50% of retail chatbot interactions will be completed successfully—without the need for human intervention—by 2024. China will be the leader in chatbot use, reaching $80 billion in sales by 2024, which accounts for over 55% of global chatbot spend in that year.

Free shipping has become the new common

After Amazon introduced two-day free shipping to their Amazon Prime members, online consumers in every country where Amazon competes started to ask for faster, cheaper shipping.

The recent GlobalWebIndex 2020 Flagship report states that 53% of consumers list free shipping as the main reason they shop online.

Free shipping is among the biggest incentives to shop online

Intelligence Node’s Consumer Buying Behavior report found 50% of shoppers choose online stores that offer fast, easy, and affordable delivery. Similarly, the National Retail Federation found that 75% of consumers expect delivery to be free even on orders under $50.

Sustainability is a growing concern for consumers

Sustainability has become one of the largest concerns for most online consumers, including manufacturing standards, shipping policies, and packaging options.

According to GlobalWebIndex 2020 Flagship report, 46% of Internet users want brands to be eco-friendly, while 44% also want them to be socially responsible.

Sustainability is among the biggest online shopping trends in 2021

A 2019 Nosto survey found that 75% of consumers want brands to reduce packaging, while 32% stated they would pay more for a product from a sustainable brand.

Loyalty is crucial for long-term success

Despite the fact the pandemic increases the number of online consumers, most tend to buy from the same companies. As of September 2019, online shopping statistics based on mobile shopping app usage showed that most US-shoppers bought from Amazon, Walmart, and eBay.

Online shopping statistics showing that most popular mobile shopping apps are Amazon, Walmart, and eBay

For the rest of us, that means developing brand loyalty is the key to driving long-term success. McKinsey’s research shows that 75% of consumers have tried new websites and brands during the pandemic, 65% of which will continue to purchase from these brands after the pandemic passes.

To increase your customer loyalty, you need to implement a loyalty program. A study by Yotpo found that nearly 68% of respondents said they would join a loyalty or VIP program. More importantly, 56% stated they would be willing to spend more on a brand they liked even if they found cheaper options.

Research conducted by Yotpo shows that brand loyalty is a strong online consumer behavior factors in 2021

Nearly 30% of overall respondents stated they had increased their loyalty to brands to support them during the pandemic.

Gen Z became more loyal to their favorite brands during the pandemic

Besides offering free shipping and discounts, Yotpo found a loyalty program should include “early access to sales” (60.1%) and “early access to new products” (50.8%).

Online shopping statistics on loyalty program expectations 2019-2020

A Forrester Research report predicts B2C ecommerce businesses will increase their spending on loyalty and retention marketing by 15% in 2021 while cutting back on product or performance-based marketing.

Facebook ads and email marketing are two standard marketing channels for every ecommerce business. However, the last couple of years have seen the rise of new technologies and channels that will likely change the ecommerce industry. Here are five online shopping statistics from 2020 to help you understand what these channels are.

Live streaming is becoming a critical sales channel

Live streaming, the process of broadcasting media live, isn’t only for gamers and social media influencers.

In 2021, IAB expects global livestream-generated sales to generate $120 billion in sales, a trend that has become popular in China. They even expect shoppable media — which includes social commerce, virtual consultations, and shoppable ad formats — to become the fastest-growing advertising categories for the foreseeable future.

Headless commerce technology adoption is growing

Headless commerce is a technology solution that stores, manages, and delivers information without a front-end delivery layer. Instead of coupling the front-end with the back-end as most websites do, a headless commerce platform removes the former and leaves the latter. This technology allows for endless personalization options, faster changes, and no design constraints.

In the eCommerce Leaders Survey Report on Site Performance report, 61% of surveyed retailers stated they would leverage headless commerce technology, while 62% agreed it can significantly improve engagement and conversions.

Pinterest arises as a powerful marketing channel

Pinterest has become one of the latest traffic acquisition channels for ecommerce companies. In contrast with most social media companies, Pinterest works as an image search engine, much like Google does for search queries and YouTube for video.

As of September 30, 2020, Pinterest has 442 million Monthly Active Users (MAUs) worldwide.

According to Pinterest global internal data:

  • 60% of their global audience is made up by women
  • 98% of Pinners reported trying new things they find on Pinterest
  • 40% of Pinners have a household income of $100k per year, and an additional 10% make at least $50k per year
  • 97% of the top searches on Pinterest are unbranded

Like every new ad platform, Pinterest’s advertising costs are cheap, and their audience has been less exposed to ads, increasing the chances of running profitable campaigns.

Smartphones will represent half of online spending

In 2021, smartphones are a commodity, but that doesn't mean you should ignore them, as they are one of the main channels that people use to purchase online.

According to Adobe’s Digital Economy Index, smartphones will contribute more than 50% of online spending by September 2022. Whereas in 2020, smartphones accounted for only 40% of all sales, based on the most recent online shopping stats.

Smartphone online shopping revenue share in 2020 and the expected trend

Home devices will also play a crucial role in online shopping

In contrast to smartphones, home devices represent the latest technological frontier, not only as a novelty but as an ecommerce marketing channel.

According to Juniper, smart home devices such as Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa will generate $164 billion worth of sales in 2025 — a 630% growth from the $22 billion expected in 2020.

At the same time, BBVA forecasts that 31% of American consumers will use a voice assistant to make payments in 2022.

Voice online payment adoption - forecast 2017-2022

Traditional banks have started to face stiff competition from tech giants like Amazon, Apple, and Google, threatening to disrupt the entire financial industry. Here are three statistics that show how much it will change in the future.

PayPal still rules the online payment processing industry

Payment processing is the process in which a financial institution executes the transaction between the customer, their bank, and your company; in the online world, the companies that execute such processes are known as “gateways.”

According to Datanyze, PayPal is the most popular payment gateway company, with almost 55% of the market share. Stripe, Amazon Pay, and Braintree own another quarter of the market; smaller competitors like Square, Authorize.net, and Klarna take a smaller but still sizable part of it.

Payment processing market share table featuring PayPal, Stripe, Amazon Pay, and BrainTree

Mobile wallets are the new common

The days of people shopping with bank-issued debit and credit cards are over. Tech giants like Apple, Google, and Amazon have started to offer Visa and MasterCard cards, cutting the banks from the business altogether.

Mobile wallets — apps that store payment card information — have become one of the biggest online shopping trends in recent years. Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, and Amazon Pay will likely be the new normal in an online shopper’s life.

By 2024, a Juniper Research report says that half the world’s population will use mobile wallets.

The number of people using digital wallets will increase from 2.3 billion this year to nearly 4 billion, or 50% of the world’s population, by 2024. This, in turn, will push wallet transaction values up by more than 80% to more than $9 trillion per year.

Mobile payments will take almost a quarter of the payment industry

Mobile payments are any financial transaction where a user pays digitally — that is, without using any debit or credit cards. These payments include transactions made through mobile wallets and peer-to-peer money transfers.

The increased adoption of mobile payments will change the way consumers shop both online and offline. Someone who makes an online purchase with a mobile wallet will also wish to use one in a brick-and-mortar store and vice-versa. Therefore, companies with both an online and offline presence should allow consumers to pay through their mobile devices.

The IMARC group forecasts worldwide mobile payments to grow from $1.15 billion to $3.1 billion from 2019 until 2024, representing an adoption growth rate of 23%.

2 Holiday shopping statistics

Holidays are always special times for retail businesses. The following online shopping statistics will show what happens around two of the most popular festivities — Cyber Week and Christmas.

Cyber Week online shopping stats 2020

In 2020, Cyber Week, the five days between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, saw consumers spend $34.4 billion — a 20.7% increase from 2019.

Almost a third of it came from Cyber Monday, which saw consumers spend a record $10.8 billion just in that one day — $2.7 billion during retail’s “golden hours” of 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. alone, which beat last year’s $9.4 billion-record.

Christmas online shopping stats 2020

In 2020, holiday retail sales in the United States were forecasted to reach $755.3 billion.

United States holiday retail sales forecast 2000-2020

According to Deloitte, 59% of consumers said they carried their shopping online, while 36% did it in-store. We can assume a large part of that abrupt shift to online shopping came from the major lockdowns many cities had during that time of the year. Nonetheless, it shows that even the largest shopping season of the year has gone online.

Wrap up

So there you have it, the 20 essential online shopping statistics you need to know to approach this new year fully aware of the opportunities ahead. Next time you decide to plan your ecommerce marketing strategy, make sure to use the data shown here to prepare for the coming changes properly.

Ivan Kreimer is a freelance content writer for hire who creates educational content for SaaS businesses like Leadfeeder and Campaign Monitor. In his pastime, he likes to help people become freelance writers. Besides writing for smart people who read sites like Getsitecontrol, Ivan has also written in sites like Entrepreneur, MarketingProfs, TheNextWeb, and many other influential websites.

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