Global e-commerce sales soar to $29tr

ISLAMABAD: Global e-commerce sales grew 13 per cent in 2017, hitting an estimated $29 trillion, according to the latest numbers released by United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

A similar surge was seen in the number of online shoppers, which jumped by 12 per cent and stood at 1.3 billion people, or one quarter of the world’s population.

Though most internet buyers purchased goods and services from domestic vendors, the share of those buying from abroad rose from 15 per cent in 2015 to 21pc in 2017. The growth was driven mainly by an increase in the United States.

As a result, cross-border business-to-consumer (B2C) sales reached an estimated $412bn, accounting for almost 11pc of total B2C e-commerce – a 4pc hike on the previous year’s numbers.

Little change occurred in the list of the top 10 e-commerce markets, with the United States holding onto its top position. At almost $9tr, online sales there were three times higher than in Japan and more than four times higher than in China.

The only shuffle in the list was Germany’s overtaking of South Korea as the fourth largest online market.

While business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce continued to dominate — accounting for 88pc of all online sales — B2C was the segment that saw the most growth, increasing by 22pc to reach $3.9tr in 2017.

In the B2C realm, China increased its lead on the United States, while the United Kingdom held on to third place.

But consumers in the United Kingdom were still the most likely to shop on the internet, with a whopping 82pc of people aged 15 and older making purchases online in 2017. Overall, however, China had the largest number of internet buyers at 440 million.

According to new UNCTAD statistics, the exports of services that can be provided online, such as insurance, business processes or financial services, grew annually by 7 to 8pc over the past decade and were worth $2.7tr in 2017. This means that digitally-deliverable services are now worth five times more than information communications technology services.

Globally, the United States topped the charts of such services with $440bn, or a 16pc of world market share. The United Kingdom and Germany came in second and third.

Although developed economies exported 77pc of all digitally-­deliverable services in 2017, their share had fallen from 85pc in 2005, showing that developing countries are grabbing a bigger piece of the global pie.

In fact, the biggest increase in exports over the past decade occurred in developing economies in Asia, whose collective annual growth rate was 11pc between 2005 and 2017.

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