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Ecommerce Forum

how big is ecommerce?

 12:01 pm on Sep 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

This is a question for the forum on how much value ecommerce transactions constitute these days. A dollar amount is preferable. I am wondering how much money is actually spent online, through ecommerce transactions, each day?



 5:34 pm on Sep 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

Which country? Or, worldwide?

The answer will be a HUGE number.


 5:37 pm on Sep 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

How big is the retail business?

How many flowers are grown each year?

How many labradors are they in North America?

How many babies are they in India?


If you are looking for information to write a report or a business plan, how about seeking and paying for this data in the right source?


 6:10 pm on Sep 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

The answer will depend on your definition of e-commerce as well. And many people have different definitions.

Someone goes to Amazon and finds a book to buy, then pays online with a credit card. OK, that should fit everyone's definition of e-commerce.

Someone else goes to another book shop's web site and finds a book to buy. The site doesn't have an online shopping cart, so the customer calls the book store and gives his credit card info over the phone. Is that still e-commerce?

A person goes to Expedia and makes a hotel reservation, entering his credit card information online. But the hotel doesn't charge his card until he checks out (and he may use a different card than the one he used online). Is this e-commerce?

The same person uses to his local travel agent to make another hotel reservation. He has an account with her that he settles monthly. Obviously, not e-commerce, right? Well, she makes the hotel reservations through the GDS (which ties all the major chains' hotel reservations systems together through a private computer network). Now is it e-commerce?

A person goes to the Circuit City web site and finds a TV she wants, so she places an order for pickup at her local store. She goes to the store and pays for it there. Is this e-commerce?

Instead of mailing a check, I go to the web site of my local utility company and submit my payment either with a credit card or through direct debit from my bank account. Is this e-comemrce?

A completely brick and morter business (doesn't even have a web site) pays for banner advertising on AOL. Is this e-commerce?

I go and get $40 from my bank account through an ATM. E-commerce?

Before you argue that no product/service is changing hands in some of these examples, see Wikipedia's definition of e-commerce: [en.wikipedia.org...] (note- that will also give the OP a number to use, although it's quite outdated: 2003!).

Depending on the actual settlement method, one could claim that just about every non-cash transaction could be classified as e-commerce.

[edited by: LifeinAsia at 6:24 pm (utc) on Sep. 26, 2006]


 9:26 pm on Sep 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

It is $143 for every penguin in Antarctica.


 1:31 am on Sep 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

Ok this thread isn't going anywhere productive.
Except for another of LifeinAsia's many quality posts.
sgg24 please narrow you question before the thread gets self nuked.


 5:17 am on Sep 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

According to Foreester research, total online retail sales in the US in 2005 is $172 billion, and is expected to double in 2010.

[edited by: Raymond at 5:17 am (utc) on Sep. 27, 2006]


 12:47 am on Sep 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

Wow! I had not expected such a tumultuous response to what I thought was a simple question. Thanks Raymond for giving the kind of answer I was looking for.

LifeinAsia, your answer was very illuminating, because it shows the depth and breadth of ecommerce.

Initially I had thought that ecommerce was anything that was done through a shopping cart. Those figures from Raymond are probably (I'm guessing) calculated along those lines. Surely a definition of ecommerce is necessary to have a meaningful discussion about it.

So my proposal is to use the shopping cart definition.

If you disagree, feel free to respond, but keep it real.


 4:47 pm on Sep 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

Yahoo and Google both have gross revenue in the ballpark of $4,000,000,000+ ($4Billion) per year. Of course, much of this is ad revenue.


 9:39 am on Sep 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

So my proposal is to use the shopping cart definition..

Which is meaningless if you are really trying to figure the amount of ecommerce. And nobody really knows anyway, all the numbers you see are just guesstimates.

Oliver Henniges

 10:06 am on Sep 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

> So my proposal is to use the shopping cart definition..

Last week I received an order where someone had sent the shopping-cart-page to his printer, filled in all form fields by hand and then sent the piece of paper via fax;) Would you include that in your definition?

I do not distinguish between b2c and b2b, anyone who pays is a welcome customer. Any sort of bulk-order requires extra communication and negotiation. A big block of our sales has to do with imprinting widgets, so the images have to be discussed and exchanged by mail.

All in all more than three quarters of our ecommerce-revenue require other means than just the shopping cart. Fax, phone and even people from hundreds of miles away popping in on their way home from visiting mom and pop. We also have had quite a number of customers 30-100 km away, who used google instead of the yellow pages. Some of them came in personally, some received their stuff using our own van.

Ecommerce has many facettes, and the most interesting ones definitely require personal communication.


 6:33 pm on Sep 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

I thought it was about 2'6"

That really is a hard question to answer and if you look on Google youll get widly varying figures.


 6:04 am on Oct 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

Thanks for your contributions so far! :)

I'm thinking we should perhaps exclude what ecommerce isn't - for example online gambling, online banking, payment solutions etc.

What does the forum think of defining ecommerce as anything that happens through a browser (IE, Firefox, Mozilla, etc.) where, because of a commercial transaction, a product is shipped to a physical address?


 7:26 am on Oct 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

>> a product is shipped to a physical address?

That eliminates ventures like iTunes, ring tone downloads etc.


 7:46 am on Oct 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

What does the forum think of defining ecommerce as anything that happens through a browser (IE, Firefox, Mozilla, etc.) where, because of a commercial transaction, a product is shipped to a physical address?

sgg24, that's a rather strange definition of ecommerce. You want to exclude for example entire sector of flight tickets sold by airlines on their websites, just because there is no product shipped to a physical address?

Ecommerce is a very generic term. Unless you define it well or limit it you will not get any meaningful answer, because it simply does not exist.


 10:37 am on Oct 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

ok, ok...

No worries, let's define ecommerce as anything that occurs with a browser, because we're all using browsers on WebmasterWorld.

I think a definition of ecommerce is necessary and sufficient for any discussion. The advantage of some of the forums on WebmasterWorld is that they can talk about specifics, but I don't think that, for example, databases or business issues relate to this forum. I'm at the service of the moderators - it's all good.

It is surprising this hasn't been more generally discussed.


 11:11 am on Oct 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

Further to the Forrester report mentioned above, the Clickz statistic is $143bn for 2005.


If Forrester is $170bn, I would say a pretty safe estimate, good enough to publish at any rate citing these two sources, would be something in between the 2.

I don't think you'll get any greater accuracy than that, although I don't think you can take any of these figures without also taking a large dose of salt.

Should be sufficient for broad brush statistical use though.



 3:34 pm on Oct 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

let's define ecommerce as anything that occurs with a browser

It's already an out of date definition. People buy things with their cell phones, some of which don't involve a browser. Then again, maybe people would classify that as m-commerce instead of e-commerce and should be excluded from the total ofr m-commerce.

I think you need to define it a bit more- does the purchase have to be completed in the browser? Does payment have to be made online?

Stephen Tiller

 4:29 pm on Oct 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

Definition of ecommerce...

Ecommerce (or e-commerce) is the art and science of selling products and/or services over the Internet.

E-commerce refers to all forms of business activities conducted across the internet. This can include E-tailing, B2B, intranets and extranets, online advertising (eg. advertising banners), and simply online presences of any form that are used for some type of communication (customer service for example).

yep, I did google it!


 4:32 am on Oct 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

I'd actually like to know what the ecomm % of total retail sales is...Last I remember it was in the 2-3 % range...

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