E-commerce sales in the business-to-consumer (B2C) space are expected to soar in 2014, rising 20% to $1.5 trillion across the globe. That’s according to a just-released study from eMarketer, which says the rapid growth will be powered by ballooning online and mobile user bases in emerging markets, a general increase in mobile commerce, advancing shipping and payment options, and major brands expanding into new international markets. “The truth,” says Erich Campbell, e-commerce manager at Albuquerque, NM-based distributor Black Duck Inc., “is that a lot more people are doing business online and that’s just going to increase.”
This year, the Asia-Pacific region will surpass North America in terms of total e-commerce sales for the first time, eMarketer found. Driven by large populations in China, India and Indonesia coming online and buying, the Asia-Pacific zone is predicted to tally $525.2 billion in e-commerce sales in 2014. While Asia-Pacific countries will claim more than 46% of digital buyers worldwide this year, only about 17% of the region’s population will engage in e-commerce, indicating significant growth potential in future years.
In North America, B2C e-commerce is forecast to reach $482.6 billion in 2014. Globally, the United States will remain the nation with the single most e-commerce spend this year, but will likely be overtaken by China by 2016, eMarketer found. Even so, B2C e-commerce is predicted to increase 12% in the U.S. this year and 11% next year.
Distributors and apparel decorators should pay close attention to e-commerce growth at retail because it reflects buying pattern trends that are impacting – and will continue to impact – the business-to-business space. “It’s becoming sacrosanct to have a strong e-commerce presence,” says Campbell. “It’s something customers increasingly expect.”