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Global eCommerce Sales, Trends and Statistics 2016

By June 18, 2017June 27th, 2018eCommerce Trends

Global eCommerce and online retail sales have grown dramatically over the past decade, and the good news for eCommerce businesses is that there doesn’t look like there will be a slowdown anytime soon.

Remarkety works with eCommerce businesses and marketing agencies around the world and has witnessed firsthand the global changes within the industry. Understanding the global eCommerce market will help you implement the right marketing strategies for your business.

We are very excited to present the annual Global eCommerce Sales, Trends and Statistics for 2016.  You can check out last years’, 2015 report here or read on to see the 2016 report.


Ecommerce statistics 2016



Key Statistics

The 2016 eCommerce global sales, trends and statistics report discloses key data within the top ten eCommerce markets. This analysis highlights the areas of growth in key countries, identifies trends and predicts what is in expected for 2017. The aim of the report is to find the unique shopping behavior of each country, analyze email marketing statistics, pinpoint unique marketing trends, determine the use of mobile and plan your eCommerce marketing strategy accordingly.


Data for email marketers is like diamonds in a diamond mine. Utilizing data and understanding potential consumers gives the ability to fully segment email messages and target consumers at a personal level with relevant content. Segmented email lists enable automated communication to the masses in a relevant and targeted manner. The more relevant the message, the higher the open and click through rates will be, leading to improved conversions.


eCommerce Global statistics 2016

  • 53% of global Internet users have made an online purchase in 2016 – that’s approximately 1 billion users.  Source US Government

  • Email is important. In 2016 traffic sources that drive sales globally showed that a staggering 20% of leads came from email. Source SmartInsights

  • Organic traffic remained the top lead generator at 22% and CPC came in third at 19%.   58% of consumers preferred receive coupons, promotions and discounts via email. Source SmartInsights

  • 65% of consumers would purchase globally rather than locally if the price is right. Source PWC Global Report


10 Biggest Markets by Global eCommerce Sales

  1. China
  2. United States
  3. United Kingdom
  4. Japan
  5. Germany
  6. France
  7. South Korea
  8. Canada
  9. Russia
  10. Brazil


China eCommerce Market – $1 trillion

China remains the World’s biggest eCommerce market, with
$1 trillion in revenue in 2016. This was a huge rise from the mere $672 million in revenue in 2015. This revenue stream is expected to explode and hit $2 trillion by 2019.

China has remained by far the most successful eCommerce nation in the world. It is thought that some of the success has been driven by the size of its population of 1.38 billion people, and number of internet users. It has been reported that 52.2% of the nation has internet access, that is a colossal 721 million internet users.

Another main eCommerce driver in China is the infamous Alibaba and Aliexpress marketplaces. The Alibaba retail marketplace brand saw 443 million active buyers in 2016. Alibaba remains the largest online merchant in the World with figures expected to soar in 2017. A huge portion of Alibaba’s revenues comes from subsidiaries; Taobao and Tmall. The second largest eCommerce site in China is

Technology is thriving in China with the Chinese being strong mobile and social users. China’s eCommerce is strongly supported by social commerce. In 2016 31% of Chinese WeChat users made a purchase through WeChat and 65% of Chinese shoppers shop online via their mobile device at least once a month.

Online wallets are the top payment method of choice, with 33% of Chinese shoppers utilizing the technology to complete transactions

The key to Chinese consumers:

Content is important if you want to hit it big in China. Video content has proven to leave the biggest impression on the Chinese consumer.  71% of consumers say that a video leaves a positive impression of the company

United States eCommerce Market – $396 billion

The US had a staggering 286.9 million internet users in 2016, that is a total of 88.5% of the entire population having internet access. Of all internet users, 77% made an online purchase in 2016, that is an outstanding 67% of the entire US population.

eCommerce sales account for 8% of all retails sales in the US in 2016. This accumulates to a total of $396 billion in revenue, up from $341.7 billion in 2015. It is predicted that this growth will continue to increase with an estimated revenue value of $684 billion by 2020.

Mobile technology is fiercely important in the US with over 232 million active mobile users. Of this sum, 136 million buyers made a purchase via Mobile either through a mobile web browser or mobile app. Total mobile retail revenue in the US hit a colossal 115.9 billion US dollars, 29% of total eCommerce spending. Mobile eCommerce revenue is predicted rise to 335.8 billion dollars, that is 48.5% of total eCommerce spending, by 2020.

Encouraging non-cash transactions is vital in the US market. The statistics show that credit and debit cards are used for 73% of online transactions, with the alternative digital payments increasing in popularity and hitting 16%.

The key to American consumers:

Customer service is the key in the US market. Customers strive for a seamless transaction from their first interaction with a store. eCommerce businesses in the US have adapted accordingly with approximately 43% of major retailers in the U.S. offering in-store pickup for eCommerce orders, with omni-channel options and infrastructures continually growing into 2017.

UK eCommerce Market – $1.33 billion

In 2016 the UK population stood at around 65 million people, of which 92.6%, that is over 60 million people, were active internet users. The UK has the highest ratio of internet users to population than any other country in the world, this is a huge potential audience for eCommerce businesses.

U.K. eCommerce market is the strongest in Europe and the third largest in the world. The U.K.’s digital buyer penetration is the highest in Western Europe standing at a whooping 86%.

Internet retailer reports that the UK eCommerce sales grew by almost 16% in 2016 with spending at an estimated £133 billion, up from £114.75 billion in 2015. eCommerce sales account for only 14% of all retail sales in the UK showing there is still plenty of room for growth. It is predicted that the UK will see 14% growth in eCommerce sales in 2017.

  • Accessories: up 38% year-over-year
  • Lingerie: up 33%
  • Gifts: up 26%
  • Footwear: up 21%
  • Health and Beauty: down 3%

Non-cash transactions are also very vibrant in the UK. UK shoppers primarily use some form of online transaction for payment. 75% of online transactions are paid for with debit and credit cards, 21% through PayPal and 4% of UK consumers will choose to pay through a direct bank payment when purchasing online. Make sure your site has the right payment options for UK consumers and make this option clear in your marketing communications.

The key to British consumers:

Price holds the key in the UK. The UK consumer is not as loyal as those in the US or China, in fact 41% of UK consumers would purchase globally if the price is better, and 25% of consumers compare prices via mobile whilst in-store. Capturing the consumer’s online habits can be intercepted with well-timed browse abandonment emails.


Japan eCommerce Market – $124 billion

Japan hosts a large population of 126 million people and with it 91.1% of the population has regular internet access. From the 115 million people that use the Internet, 76.9 million, 77% of all internet users, are active internet shoppers. User penetration is expected to hit around 75.6 % in 2017 and should rise to 82.2 % by 2021

In 2015 Japan saw eCommerce revenue hit $114 billion, this rose to $124 in 2016. Although there appears to be a slower growth rate than the top three eCommerce markets Japan has still produced a sizable revenue stream from eCommerce. Approximately 93% of the total population (126 million) is urban, giving it the highest urban population of the top 10 eCommerce markets.

Japan differs from other eCommerce world leaders due to the age demographics of its e-commerce users. Statistics show us that most of the shoppers in Japan are over the age of 55 years.

The key to Japanese consumers:

If you want to target the Japanese market, then you need to be mobile responsive. Japan is a pioneer in technology innovations and it’s mobile conversion rate is the highest in the world among leading eCommerce countries and is almost double the conversion rate of the United States. 50% of all eCommerce transactions occur via mobile, 44% via smartphones and 6% via tablets.

Germany eCommerce Market – $106.9 billion

Germany hosts a population of 80.6 million, of which 88% are internet users. That is a mammoth 71 million active internet users. The percentage of internet users that are active eCommerce consumers is estimated to hit 78.6 % in 2017 and is expected to hit 84.8 % in 2021.

In 2016 Germany saw all online revenue rise to over 100 billion Euros, up 10% from 2015, this includes retail eCommerce sales and online services. There is an expected 14% growth for 2017.

The online sales of physical goods saw a revenue of a staggering 52.5 billion Euros in 2016.  There was an overall 12% increase in sales from 2015 that stood at 44.9 billion Euros and there is expected to be a further increase of 10% during 2017 of online physical goods, reaching 57.7 billion Euros.

The German eCommerce industry relies on several eCommerce businesses to retain the strength of the eCommerce industry including; eBay, Amazon and Otto. Amazon and Otto. Otto is a German eCommerce shop that owns numerous eCommerce businesses, it dominates over half the entire eCommerce market in Germany.  In 2016, over 1000 eBay Germany retailers achieved a turnover of over 1 million Euros.

Electronics & Media” is the country’s largest product category. In 2017 it is estimated that this category alone will have a market volume of US$17,857m.

9% of German consumers purchase on mobile via apps, compared to 10% purchase  via browser.

People aged between 25 and 34 are responsible for 28% of purchases through smartphone apps in Germany.

The key to German consumers:

Get their consent. Email marketing rules and regulations are strict in Germany. It is not legal to send emails without written approval, or concrete consent from the intended recipient. Although this seems harsh, this actual proves to increase the effectivity of email marketing.

France eCommerce Market – $72 billion

France has a population of around 64 million people of which 86.4% , 55 million, are avid internet users.

In 2016 France saw $72b  in total online sales and over 1 billion individual purchases. Within the first 6 months of 2016 France had already seen a 13% increase in revenue from 2015, generating 35b Euros (US$37b).  

2016 saw the average cost per transaction decrease from $75 in 2015 to $70, however the frequency of purchase grew by a staggering 21%. The holiday season in 2016 was a particularly successful period generating over 20% of the entire yearly turnover.

The key to French consumers:

Clothing is the most popular product group in French eCommerce, followed closely by personal lifestyle and shoes. Unlike the top three countries, technology products feature far down on the list.


South Korea eCommerce Market – $38 billion

South Korea has a slightly lower population size than the other countries hitting the top ten eCommerce markets in the world with 50.5 million people. Of this sum, South Korea saw 85.7%, that is 43.27 million people having regular internet access.

South Korea eCommerce saw a revenue stream of over $38 billion in 2016 with a predicted surge in revenue due to hit $50 billion by 2018.

South Korea is the leading country in the world for mobile phone ownership, with a staggering 90% of the population owning a mobile device. In the past 2 years alone, there has been an increase of 64% in mobile sales.

South Korea has a high internet usage ratio to population with 85.7% of people having regular internet access.  It is estimated that 65% of the internet users shop online.

The adoption of on-demand software as a service (SaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS) is also gaining traction in South Korea and this will help increase eCommerce businesses productivity.

The key to South Korean consumers:

One key to the success of eCommerce in South Korea is due to the small size of the country and high population density allowing order fulfillment to be quick.

Canada eCommerce Market – $20 billion

Canada has a population of approximately 32 million people, of which 88.5% have regular internet access. The lower number of population coupled with its proximity to lower priced competition in the US, sees Canada down at number 8 on the top ten list.

It is expected that Canada will see a total eCommerce market revenue of $20.159 billion (US) in 2017 and will continue to see a growth of around 9.2% until 2021.

There is no predominant age group leader in Canadian eCommerce although the statistics do show a slightly higher purchase rate in the under 45 age group. The expected growth for each age group remains equal across all age groups.

Canada’s eCommerce sector is estimated to reach nearly $40 billion (Canadian Dollars) by the end of next year, 2018.

The Canadian consumer is more likely to purchase from international sources than from local sources, with an astounding 67% of sales going to international eCommerce businesses. There is room for the Canadian eCommerce businesses to build and regain this market. Price appears to be the highest reason why Canadians prefer to purchase from international sources.

One unique obstacle Canada has over other countries is that there are two predominant languages in the country.

The key to Canadian consumers:

Aim to target their frequent shopping behaviour and their loyalty. Canadian’s purchase via mobile devices on average at least once a week and are seen to be frequent shoppers that are loyal to their brands.

Russia eCommerce Market – $15.7 billion

Russia has a large population of over 143 million people of which only 71.3%, that is 102 million people are avid internet users.

Russia saw its market soar by 20% in 2016 to achieve US$15.7 billion in eCommerce revenue. It is estimated that this increased stream  of revenue will continue. According to AKIT, the projected market value for 2017 sits at US$17.1 billion.

eCommerce revenue stands for a small 3% of retail revenue in Russia. This highlights that there are some major issues within this industry that need to be addressed. Russia continues to be plagued by poor internet coverage. In 2016 only 71.3% of the population had some form of internet access.

The other barrier faced by Russian eCommerce businesses is the lack of infrastructure to deliver goods, but there is hope. Russian Post handled about 98.7 million international shipments with goods or products, which is more than twice as many as in the same period last year. Foreign retailers accounted for US$4.3 billion of revenue. Cross border sales with China are on the increase but there has been a fall with sales from online western retailers.

Mobile internet infrastructure has significantly improved and this is shown in the increase of purchases via mobile. More than 40% of all online sales were via mobile devices.

The key to Russian consumers:

The large majority of Russian consumers fit into the 25-45 age bracket with a slight edge of female consumers to male. In 2016 there were 13.4 million female consumers and 11.2 male. The majority of the consumers were medium income earners.


Brazil eCommerce Market – $14.6 billion

Brazil is one of the highest populated countries on this list with 209 million people, however it has the lowest percentage of internet users in this list. In fact only 66.4% of the population, that is 139 million people are internet users.

In 2016 Brazil saw eCommerce revenue hit US$14.6 billion, up US$1 billion from 2015, bringing it to number ten in the global eCommerce market and brings it in as the number one South American market. Brazil has $27B in projected total online sales for 2017-18. This country is seeing some huge growth patterns emerging in the past year and is expected to see a continued growth of 39% leading into 2017-18.

Brazil, much like Canada, sees many of it’s digital buyer’s purchasing cross border, a staggering 49% of purchases occur this way. Brazil has the largest economy and eCommerce market in Latin America, with the emerging middle class this region has become a hub for South American eCommerce.

The key to Brazilian consumers:

Aim to hit the mobile market if you want any success with the Brazilian market. Mobile sales reached an approximate $11b in 2016 with mobile retail dominating over 50% of the total eCommerce market.


Emerging Markets – India, Poland, Middle East

The biggest emerging eCommerce market is India. India only just missed out on its place in the top ten having reached an estimated US$14.5 billion in revenue, up from around $13 billion in 2015. Whilst the economy saw a surge in consumer spending, reaching a total of $750 billion, growth in internet sales grew at only 12%. Demonetization was what caused the Indian market to slow. However, its continued growth in SaaS systems, and increased backing in technical solutions, fueled by the Team Indus lunar mission, the Indian economy is expected to grow, with eCommerce predicted to see 45% annual growth between 2017-2020

Poland’s GDP has remained stable throughout the European financial crisis. Its strong domestic consumption and decreasing levels of unemployment are two of the country’s main strengths. In the past two years Poland has seen a year on year increase in productivity, having seen eCommerce revenue in Poland hitting 5.1 billion Euros in 2015, 6 billion Euros in 2016 and is predicted to continue this pattern and bring in a whooping 7 billion Euros in 2017.

The Middle East is still fairly new eCommerce market. Whilst many countries in the Middle East still experience low internet rates, the infrastructure is developing at a quick pace allowing it to begin to trade alongside other eCommerce countries. Countries such as Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE have already seen some major funding plowed into the eCommerce and IT sectors. They currently host a combined number of 30 million eCommerce shoppers between them.



Know your customers

It is no surprise that different countries have different cultures and each need to be targeted in a reflective manner. So why are global eCommerce businesses forgetting to incorporate diverse content to focus on different spending habits, trends, cultural needs when marketing their businesses?  Marketing messages, emails and conversion rates will all perform significantly better when customer demographics are taken into consideration.


We can help.

Using Remarkety for your automated emails and newsletters, you can segment your eCommerce customer lists, depending on what country they’re in, what they’re buying and so much more.

Wherever you’re sending from or wherever you’re sending to, Remarkety is your world wide email partner that works for you.