Global e-commerce sales surged to $29 trillion in 2017

US held its top position, followed by Japan and China, says United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

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Global e-commerce sales surged 13 per cent in 2017 to reach $29 trillion due to rise in the number of online shoppers, according to latest data from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

The number of shoppers online climbed 12 per cent to reach 1.3 billion people, nearly a quarter of the world’s population.

The share of internet users buying goods online from abroad grew to 21 per cent in 2017 from 15 per cent in 2015, driven by an increase in buyers in the United States. Cross-border business-to-consumer sales grew to $412 billion, a 4 per cent increase from a year earlier and representing 11 per cent of total sales in this segment.

“The new figures show that e-commerce is indeed creating export opportunities,” Unctad secretary general Mukhisa Kituyi said in the report.

“But the question from a development standpoint is whether businesses in developing countries are prepared to seize the opportunities.”

The top 10 countries by e-commerce sales remain mostly unchanged except for Germany overtaking South Korea as the fourth-largest online market.

The value of online sales in the US hit nearly $9tn, almost triple that of Japan in second place. China was the third-largest market in terms of value with $1.9tn in sales.

Business-to-business sales accounted for 88 per cent of all online sales but business-to-customer activity grew 22 per cent to reach $3.9tn in 2017.

Customers from the UK were most likely to shop online, with 82 per cent of people ages 15 and above making purchases in 2017.

China, though, had the largest number of internet buyers at 440 million.