eCommerce Growth

eCommerce is Key for Retailers in 2020

It’s no secret that eCommerce is experiencing hyper growth.

As the eCommerce economy experiences rapid growth, more and more businesses are entering this valuable space.  eCommerce sales in the USA reached over $350 billion in 2017 and sales are projected to grow even further, up to $485 billion by 2021. Over 71% of shoppers believe they will find a better deal through online shopping. The ability for companies of all sizes to expand into the digital space is easier than ever with tech giants like Shopify and WordPress offering simple shopping platforms.

School is in Session

July 15th to Labor Day are some of the most lucrative shopping days for eCommerce, second only to the Christmas shopping season. Back to school shopping has been increasingly moving online, especially for college-age, bringing in over $942 million in 2018, a 5% increase from 2017.

Last season saw apparel and electronics as the top sellers for back to school, and this year almost every parent is more likely to buy a big-ticket item online than in-store.  “Online, shoppers are buying from higher-priced categories and more business-centric items, like shredders, envelopes, and self-stick notes.” -Tia Frapolli of the NPD Group

When it comes to college-age students, 49% of their back to college items will be purchased online, compared to 40% obtained in department stores.  Online retail has the advantage of being able to deliver items straight to dorm rooms and campuses, eliminating the need to pack or pick-up purchases.  College students also tend to purchase more high-volume items, like laptops and furniture.

When it comes to grades K-12, eCommerce comes in second only to brick & mortar department stores and only by 2%.

Back to school eCommerce by the Numbers:

Apparel: $239m

Electronics: $204m

Shoes: $130m

School Supplies: $114m

Is it Worth It?

In 2018, eCommerce sales were about 10% of the total retail sales, and 69% of Americans have purchased an item online.  With the rise of Amazon Prime in the US, 25% of adults buy at least one thing every month online.  

The increased volume isn’t the only reason for companies to consider opening an online shopping platform. Online stores have lower costs around advertising, staffing, and physical building space. Some of the most effective eCommerce advertising and marketing options are centered around SEO tactics. Utilizing social media ad campaigns and influencer marketing are cost-effective ways to build a brand’s popularity and page ranking.

Companies also save on staffing and real estate. Instead of having to pay floor clerks and management, an online store can manage a significant portion of this using AI integration.  Both WordPress and Shopify platforms allow for plugin apps such as chatbots to answer simple questions if an item is in stock or shipping options. The checkout out process can also be fully automated, including the use of algorithms to upsell additional products. While some stores may choose to keep both physical and online stores, the option to move to online-only is becoming stronger every year as eCommerce grows.

Online Shopping Habits

With more than 80% of the online population using the internet to purchase goods or services, having a store optimized for both desktop and mobile is a must.  According to Shopify, over 54% of Facebook users browse and shop the platform on their phones. Shoppers tend to purchase via desktop during the week and through a mobile or tablet during the weekend.

Online shoppers also love the ability to be able to shop at any time during without having to worry about store hours. In a 2018 NPR study, having flexible shopping hours was a significant factor for 64% of online shoppers.

Customers also love a sale, and online retailers can quickly implement discount codes or free shipping campaigns. Impulse purchases are essential with eCommerce to avoid abandoned carts.  Providing comparison pricing and expedited shipping are two ways that companies can improve conversions rates.

Potential Pitfalls

In an age of unstoppable data breaches, keeping personal information safe is crucial. An eCommerce website must be designed in a way that secures the customers’ trust. Adding multiple methods to pay besides entering a credit card, such as PayPal or Amazon Pay, allows customers to purchase with confidence.

Some buyers still miss the experience of a physical store, the ability to try on pair of jeans or inspect the quality.  And while Amazon and several other large eCommerce companies offer two-day shipping, other retailers, especially drop shippers, are unable to expedite shipping as quickly.


Even though eCommerce isn’t always a perfect solution for every item or every customer, its continued growth makes it a must for businesses.  It allows companies a way to quickly start reaching and selling their goods to a new audience.

2020 will see online shopping take over a large share of the market, especially as brick & mortar stores and malls shutter their doors.  eCommerce is the way of the future, especially in the US, where Amazon has made the idea of online shopping commonplace.