Ecommerce Reaches 19% Global Penetration in 2020

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Ecommerce penetration worldwide increased from 16% in 2019 to 19% in 2020, driven by the pandemic-fueled shift toward online purchases, according to a report from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTD).

Global ecommerce sales, including both B2C and B2B, were up 4% to $26.7 trillion in 2020, according to UNCTD, comprising 30% of global GDP. During the same period, overall retail sales decreased 1%, from $13.1 trillion to $13 trillion due to the pandemic impact. B2C ecommerce alone increased 22% in 2020, from $2 trillion to $2.5 trillion, the agency reported.

Together, the 13 nations represented 65% of total global B2C ecommerce sales in 2019. The global share of ecommerce sales had increased from 14% to 16% from 2018 to 2019.

The Republic of Korea saw the greatest increase and share of ecommerce sales among 13 nations surveyed, going from 20.8% penetration to 25.9% in 2020. In the U.S., the penetration rate increased from 11% to 14% in the past year, according to UNCTD.

Other leading economies and their growth in ecommerce penetration were the UK (15.8% to 23.3%), China (20.7% to 24.9%), Australia (6.3% to 9.4%), Singapore (5.9% to 11.7%) and Canada (3.6% to 6.2%).

“These statistics show the growing importance of online activities”, said Shamika Sirimanne, UNCTAD’s director of technology and logistics. “They also point to the need for countries, especially developing ones, to have such information as they rebuild their economies in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Overall B2C ecommerce sales among the 7 top economies were $2.5 trillion, up 22% from $2 trillion in 2019, the agency reported.

In terms of companies with highest levels of gross merchandise value (GMV) on the UN’s list for 2020, the first four were in the same order from 2019: Alibaba ($1.14 trillion), Amazon ($575 billion), ($379 billion) and Pinduoduo ($242 billion). eBay moved up from number 7 to number 6, at $100 billion in GMV, while Walmart edged up from number 12 to number 8 ($64 billion).

What was interesting was that Shopify jumped four positions, from number 9 to number 5 in 2020, at $120 billion in GMV, nearly doubled from $61 billion the year before. Shopify has seen its business explode along with the massive boom in ecommerce, as midmarket companies were forced online.