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Ecommerce sales: Top ten economies in 2018

Source: UNCTAD, based on national sources. Note: Figures in italics are UNCTAD estimates.

The leading B2C ecommerce companies are based mostly in China and the United States. The world’s top 10 B2C companies in 2018 generated almost $2 trillion in gross merchandise value (GMV), according to the report. Alibaba was far ahead with a GMV of $866 billion in 2018, followed by Amazon with $277 billion. However, in terms of revenue, JD.com (China) and Amazon were ahead of Alibaba. Developing and transition economies accounted for about half of the top 20 economies by B2C e-commerce sales. In relation to GDP, B2C ecommerce in these economies was the largest in Hong Kong, China and the UK, and smallest in India, Brazil and Russia. Among the top 20 economies, the extent to which Internet users engage in online purchases varies considerably. For example, in 2018, 87% of Internet users in the UK shopped online, compared with only 14% in Thailand and 11% in India.

UNCTAD estimates that 1.45 billion people, or one quarter of the world’s population aged 15 and older, made purchases online in 2018. This is 9% higher than in 2017. China had the largest number of online shoppers at 610 million, according to 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 little more than 1 in 5 of all online shoppers. The interest in buying from foreign suppliers continued to expand. The share of cross-border online shoppers to all online shoppers rose from 17% in 2016 to 23% in 2018.

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Alastair Tempest

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