January 4, 2011, 3:02 PM

Global e-commerce sales head for the $1 trillion mark

Worldwide web sales will reach $963 billion by 2013, Goldman Sachs predicts.

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Worldwide e-commerce sales will reach $963.0 billion by 2013, growing at an annual rate of 19.4%, predicts Goldman Sachs in an annual report on Internet commerce. In the U.S., the investment bank predicts 12.4% growth during the next three years to $235.3 billion in online retail sales.

“E-commerce is benefiting from several positive trends, including the continued rollout of broadband, increasing user comfort shopping online and the decline of certain brick-and-mortar retailers,” Imran Khan, a managing director of Goldman Sachs, writes in the 416-page report “Nothing But Net: 2011 Internet Investment Guide.”

Khan says e-commerce will benefit from the continuing pressure on traditional retail stores, including from the rise of mobile shopping. “We think that the proliferation of mobile devices and mobile apps could have a profoundly negative impact on the business model of traditional retailers,” Khan writes. “Historically, getting a customer in the store was half the battle for a retailer. Mobile apps turn this dynamic on its head by giving more power to the shopper, even in-store.”

Globally, e-commerce growth is being driven, Khan says, by the growing middle class around the world, more broadband access and the struggles of bricks-and-mortar retailers. Among the challenges he sees to continued global growth are poor parcel delivery services in some markets, the country-by-country nature of payment systems and the threat of fraud.

In the U.S., there remains much room for e-commerce growth, Khan argues. He notes that the web’s share of all retail sales grew only from 2.9% to 3.9% from 2006 to 2009, while the online share of advertising spend during that span increased from 6.4% to 13.7%. “While adoption of online shopping has moved at a slower pace,” Khan writes, “the penetration could accelerate as consumer habits change.” He projects the number of online shoppers in the U.S. will grow from 170 million in 2010 to 189 million in 2013, a 3.6% compound annual growth rate.

Here are Khan’s projections for international growth by region and worldwide, with 2010 and 2013 estimates in billions of dollars, and compound annual growth rate for the 2010-13 period:

• U.S., 165.8, 235.3, 12.4%

Europe, 195.2, 283.0, 13.2%

Asia, 155.7, 323.1, 27.5%

• Rest of world, 55.8, 121.7, 29.7%

• Global, 572.5, 963.0, 19.4%

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