February 5, 2013, 12:26 PM

Global e-commerce tops $1 trillion in 2012

Asia-Pacific will surpass North America in web sales this year, eMarketer says.

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Global e-commerce sales reached $1.08875 trillion in 2012, up 21.9% from $893.33 billion in 2011, according to digital marketing research firm eMarketer. While North America continued to claim most of those sales, this year Asia-Pacific will take the lead, eMarketer says.

The firm forecasts that in 2013, total e-commerce sales worldwide will grow 19.3% year over year to reach $1.29844 trillion. In its definition of e-commerce sales, eMarketer includes retail, travel and digital download sales and online marketplace transactions. Here is a regional breakdown of worldwide online sales share in 2012 and 2013, according to eMarketer:

  • North America, 33.5%, 31.5%;
  • Asia-Pacific, 30.5%, 33.4%;
  • Western Europe, 26.9%, 25.7%;
  • Eastern Europe, 3.8%, 3.9%;
  • Latin America, 3.4%, 3.5%;
  • Middle East and Africa, 1.9%, 2.1%.

China drives most of Asia-Pacific’s e-commerce growth, eMarketer says, and it will pass Japan to become the world’s second-largest e-commerce market after the United States this year. China’s nearly 220 million online shoppers in 2012—a number expected to double by 2016—is greater than the number of online shoppers in any other country, it says.

In 2013, e-commerce sales in China will account for 14% of online sales worldwide, at $181.62 billion, up 65% from $110.04 billion in 2012, eMarketer says. The United States in 2013 will take 29.6% of all online sales, or $384.80 billion, up 12.2% from $343.43 billion in 2012.

Although China may eventually best other markets for e-commerce based on the size of its online shopping population, the average Chinese shopper will spend only $670 online this year. In contrast, online shoppers in the United Kingdom will spend an average of $3,878 each this year, up from $3,585 per shopper in 2012, when it took the global lead for highest average e-commerce spending per shopper. EMarketer attributes that to a strong demand for food and apparel items among U.K. online shoppers and U.K. retailers’ widespread promotion of online and mobile channels.

The top five countries ranked by average e-commerce sales per online shopper, with their 2012 and 2013 projected averages, are:

  • United Kingdom, $3,585, $3,878;
  • Australia, $3,547, $3,802;
  • Norway, $2,530, $2,796;
  • United States, $2,293, $2,466;
  • Denmark, $2,185, $2,286.

Detailed profiles of the leading online retailers in North America, Europe and Latin America are available in the Internet Retailer Top 500, Top 400 Europe and Top 300 Latin America guides. Internet Retailer's Top 500 Asia guide will be available in March.

In another report, French trade group Fevad says that 2012 online retail and travel sales in France reached 45 billion euros ($60.858 billion), up 19% year over year. Of that, about 2%, or roughly 1 billion euros ($13.524 billion), came from mobile commerce, it says.

In general, Fevad says it attributes France’s strong e-commerce growth to an at least 5% increase in the number of online shoppers in 2012 and a 17% year-over-year increase in the number of French e-commerce web sites in 2012, which numbered 117,500.

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