E-commerce in China has expanded in the past year and is only expected to grow more in the coming years, overtaking the share of sales from brick and mortar retailers. Indeed, data from eMarketer predicts that by 2024 e-commerce will account for almost three-fifths of all retail sales in China.
As early as 2019, e-commerce accounted for about one-third (34.1%) of retail sales in China. By 2020, the $2.3 trillion in e-commerce sales represented 44.8% of total retail sales. This year e-commerce is expected to account for the majority share (52.1%) of retail sales for the first time, reaching $2.8 trillion. This, per eMarketer, would be a world first.
The growth in the share of sales coming from e-commerce is projected to continue in the near future, with eMarketer estimating that close to 3 in 5 (58.1% of) retail sales will come from e-commerce by 2024.
It’s safe to say that e-commerce’s share of retail sales in China is unrivaled by any other country. By means of comparison, South Korea, which ranks 2nd in eMarketer’s list of top 10 countries ranked by retail e-commerce sales share for 2021 and 2022, is expected to see e-commerce account for 28.9% of total retail sales this year. And, at #6, the US’ retail e-commerce sales will only account for 15% of total retail sales this year.
Data from GroupM estimates e-commerce sales accounting for a similar share (16%) of US retail sales in 2021. However, its forecast puts e-commerce sales in China at a much lower share (27.3%) of total retail sales in the country.
Putting this difference in e-commerce sales share aside, eMarketer notes that China’s journey to becoming an e-commerce leader was aided by several factors, including innovative digital payment systems, low-cost delivery services and a smartphone-driven “m-commerce” culture.
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