eCommerce Trends Around the World [2019 Infographic]

One of the wonderful things about eCommerce is the ability to sell to anyone in the world, at any time. But if you sell blindly, without doing your homework beforehand, you could end up throwing your hard-earned dollars down the drain. 

The truth is that different markets present different challenges…and opportunities. Your product might be a total hit in one country…and a complete miss in another. 

In this infographic, we’ll reveal some of the main global eCommerce trends that you should consider before taking your business international. 

Now…let’s dive in.

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Global eCommerce Trends

1. On average, 57% of online shoppers around the world buy from overseas retailers 

  • 63.4% in Europe 
  • 55.5% in Africa 
  • 57.9% in Asia-Pacific 
  • 54.6%  in Latin America

What to Do: Consider testing your products in foreign markets using geographic targeting. For example, you could launch localized ads on Google or Facebook in the country that you wish to target. You could also create separate social media accounts for each country that you’re targeting. 

2. United States’ share of global eCommerce sales is decreasing

Currently, these are the 10 largest eCommerce markets: 

  1. China: $740B 
  2. U.S.: $561B 
  3. U.K.: $93B 
  4. Japan: $87B
  5. Germany: $77B
  6. South Korea: $69B
  7. France: $55B
  8. Canada: $44B
  9. Russia: $19B
  10.  Brazil: $16B

While the U.S. was once a global leader in eCommerce, its share is rapidly declining. In 2020, the US is expected to hold only 16.9% of all eCommerce sales worldwide. 

So which country is leading the pack? 

China. The East Asian country is expected to rake in $1,086.1B in eCommerce sales by 2023, while the U.S. is only expected to make $735.4B. 

What to Do: If your eCommerce business only serves U.S. customers, you might be missing out and want to consider taking it overseas. 

3. Asia-Pacific is Taking Over 

By 2023, eCommerce sales in Asia-Pacific will be greater than the entire rest of the world combined. Here’s what it’ll look like: 

  • $1.4T of sales in Asia-Pacific 
  • $1.3T of sales in North America, Europe, Africa/Middle East & South America

What to Do: Consider going East. 

4. The Chinese Market Isn’t Easy to Enter

If, based on all the above data, you’re considering breaking into the Chinese market, then just keep in mind that you’ve got your work cut out for you. The Chinese market isn’t easy to enter because: 

  • Unlike Western consumers, Chinese consumers prefer marketplaces and social commerce over standalone websites. 
  • It’s difficult to advertise to Chinese consumers, since Google, Facebook, Instagram and Youtube are all blocked in China. 
  • As a result of China’s “Great Firewall,” sites on foreign servers load very slowly in China, which ends up hurting conversion rates. 
  • Internet Content Provider (ICP) licenses from the Chinese government are required for every website domain…and very difficult to get. 

What to do: Partner with local vendors, set up a local team in China, or use third-party marketplaces to sell. 

5.  The Most Popular Industries Vary by Region 

Here’s a look at the most popular industries by region: 

Asia Pacific 

  • Packed grocery: 40%
  • Home care: 37%
  • Fresh grocery: 35%
  • Video gaming: 30%
  • Medicine/health: 29%

North America 

  • Video gaming: 31%
  • Medicine/health: 25%
  • Packed grocery: 19%
  • Alcoholic beverages: 9%

Western Europe

  • Consumer electronics: 36%
  • Personal care: 34%
  • Furniture: 28%
  • Medicine/health: 22%
  • Restaurant deliveries: 18%

Latin America 

  • Travel: 42% 
  • Personal care: 28%
  • Pet: 10%
  • Alcoholic beverages: 9%
  • Home care: 9% 

Eastern Europe 

  • Fashion: 49%
  • Event tickets: 41%
  • Travel: 40%
  • Personal care: 33%
  • Restaurant deliveries: 24%

Africa & Middle East 

  • Fashion: 35% 
  • Restaurant deliveries: 23%
  • Personal care: 22%
  • Video gaming: 17%
  • Baby and children: 10%

6. The Most Popular Products Vary Too

Dance dresses/skirts/costumes is the #5 top-selling product in Germany (but doesn’t even rank in the top 50 for most other countries).

Nail polish & facial cleansers are top-selling products in Singapore (#5 and #6, respectively).

Perfume/cologne & lingerie are top-selling in France (#4 and #6, respectively).

Shoes are also popular in most countries (except in Germany and Japan).

Mobile phone cases, books & shirts/tops are top-selling items in most countries (with shirts/tops normally holding the #1, #2, or #3 spot).

Bracelets are the #4 top-selling product in Germany, #5 in France, #8 in U.S. and #9 in Canada.

Tea/infusion & knives are the #4 top-selling product in Japan.

Vitamins are high-selling in most countries (especially in New Zealand).

What to do: Determine your product-market fit for each region that you’re considering. Be sure that there’s demand for your product beforehand; otherwise, you could face some unpleasant surprises down the road. 

7. Language and Currency Are Most Important to Consumers 

One 2014 Common Sense Advisory study of over 3,000 online shoppers from ten different countries determined that language was a deciding factor in whether or not customers decide to buy. 

  • 75% of consumers surveyed want to buy products in their mother tongue 
  • 59% rarely or never purchase from websites that are only in English  
  • 67% of people prefer that navigation and “some” content is translated  

What to do: Hire a copywriter who’s native to the country that you’re targeting and have them craft your website copy for you. If this is out of your budget, then at least hire a translator to translate some of the most important content on your site, like your headlines, product titles and calls-to-action. 

8. Payment Preferences Differ Around the World 

China 

  • 86%: Digital payment systems 
  • 53%: Direct debit 
  • 49%: Cash on delivery 

Western Europe

  • 56% Digital payment systems 
  • 44%: Credit card 
  • 42% Debit card 

Africa

  • 54%: Cash on delivery 
  • 52%: Debit card 
  • 42%: Direct debit 

Eastern Europe 

  • 57%: Cash on delivery 
  • 55%: Direct debit 
  • 46%: Credit card 

India

  • 83%: Cash on delivery 
  • 71%: Debit card 
  • 61%: Direct debit 

Latin America 

  • 65%: Credit card 
  • 41%: Debit card 
  • 36%: Digital payment systems 

North America

  • Credit card: 74%
  • Digital payment systems: 38%
  • Store-specific gift card: 26%

South Asia/Pacific

  • Credit card: 57%
  • Digital payment systems: 37%
  • Direct debit: 35%

Middle East

  • Cash on delivery: 64%
  • Credit card: 46%
  • Debit card: 11% 

What to Do: The more payment options that you can offer your customers, the better. But depending on the country you’re targeting, certain ones will be more important than others. 

If you’re expanding to Africa, Eastern Europe, the Middle East or India, then cash-on-delivery is an absolute must. Whereas for China and Western Europe, digital payment systems are non-negotiable. 

Mary Blackiston

Mary is the Content Marketing Specialist for eScale. In her free time, she enjoys yoga, rock climbing, blogging, traveling, and soaking up as much eCommerce knowledge as she can.