UNCTAD: Global e-commerce sales hit $25.6 trillion in 2018

28 Apr 2020 8:56 AM
Global e-commerce sales hit $25.6 trillion in 2018, equivalent to thirty percent of global GDP that year and an 8%  increase from 2017, based on the latest available estimates released by the UN’s trade and development body, UNCTAD on Monday. 

The info was revealed in a written report released in the beginning of UNCTAD’s eWeek online event, which will explore digital solutions and policies to greatly help the world get over the coronavirus crisis, said a news release from UNCTAD, reports UNB.

The online event, featuring dialogues among ministers, heads of international organizations, business executives and civil society representatives, will go on until May 1.

However, Shamika Sirimanne, director of technology and logistics, UNCTAD, said “The coronavirus crisis has accelerated the uptake of digital solutions, tools and services, however the overall impact on the worthiness of e-commerce in 2020 continues to be hard to predict.”

In line with the UNCTAD analysis, the estimated 2018 e-commerce sales value includes business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) sales.

The accumulated B2B and B2C sales were equal to 30% of global gross domestic product (GDP) in 2018, UNCTAD says.

UNCTAD said the 2017 value of global e-commerce was estimated at $23.8 trillion, based on a revised methodology.

Top countries in e-commerce sales

AMERICA of America ($8,640bn), Japan ($3,280bn), China ($2,304bn), Korea (Rep) ($1,364bn), and UK ($918bn) occupied the first top five positions respectively in e-commerce sales in 2018.  

Meanwhile, France, Germany, Italy, Australia and Span will be the second top five countries in e-commerce sales, said UNCTAD.

The worthiness of global B2B e-commerce in 2018 was $21 trillion, representing 83 percent of most e-commerce, comprising both sales on online market platforms and electronic data interchange transactions.

The leading B2C e-commerce companies are based in China and the United States. The world’s top 10 B2C companies in 2018 made almost $2 trillion in gross merchandise value (GMV), in line with the report.

Alibaba (China) was far ahead with a GMV of $866 billion in 2018, followed by Amazon (USA) with $277 billion. However, when it comes to revenue, JD.com (China) and Amazon were before Alibaba.

Developing and transition economies accounted for approximately half of the very best 20 economies by B2C e-commerce sales. In relation to GDP, B2C e-commerce in these economies was the major in Hong Kong (China), China and the uk, and smallest in India, Brazil and Russia.

Among the most notable 20 economies, the extent to which Internet users take part in online purchases varies considerably.

For instance, in 2018, 87% of Internet users in britain shopped online, weighed against only 14% in Thailand and 11% in India.

About 1.45 billion people, or one quarter of the world’s population aged 15 and older, made purchases online in 2018, said the report of UNCTAD. That is 9% higher than in 2017.

China had the most significant number of online shoppers at 610 million, in line with the report.

While the bulk of online shoppers mainly bought from domestic suppliers, some 330 million online shoppers made cross-border purchases in 2018 - a bit more than one in five of most online shoppers.

Meanwhile, the interest in buying from foreign suppliers continued to expand. The share of cross-border online shoppers to all or any online shoppers rose from 17% in 2016 to 23 percent in 2018. 

“Still the amount of online shoppers, while huge, can be an indication of the scale of the digital divide and the near future market potential of e-commerce, both of which ought to be addressed,” said Sirimanne.

She also said that only half of the world’s 7.7 billion persons are connected to the web and its benefits.

This limits the power of several developing countries to use digital solutions to cope with the existing health and monetary crisis.

Measuring the value of e-commerce remains a challenge, as most countries still usually do not publish official statistics onto it, even though more governments are collecting information.

Also, countries that publish data on the worthiness of e-commerce sometimes usually do not follow international guidelines and frequently revise their statistics.

To take account of recent developments, UNCTAD has adapted its methodology for estimating global e-commerce.

Because of the changes to the methodology and country revisions with their 2017 data, the latest e-commerce estimates aren't directly much like those published by UNCTAD in previous years.