Have you ever wondered how many online stores there are in the world, how big the eCommerce market is, whether it’s growing and if so, how fast? No one should start a new business (or run an existing one for that matter) without doing some basic market sizing. We’d like to share what we’ve learned in our journey to size the eCommerce market opportunity for LemonStand with you since, if you’re reading this, you are either already involved in this market or thinking of jumping in.
We’ve put together an infographic below to help paint this picture. Keep reading for the full scoop!
Share this Image On Your Site
Trillion Dollar Market Opportunity
The great news is that the worldwide eCommerce market is gigantic! Thanks to our friends at eMarketer, we know that it is the only trillion dollar market ($1.6T USD in 2015) in existence that is projected to grow over 20% this year and to continue growing at double digit rates for the foreseeable future. Even better, it is still very early days in the shift from traditional bricks and mortar retail to eCommerce spending, with only 6.6% of a whopping $24T total retail sales done online this year.
Now, we know that it may not (never say never) be practical for 100% of retail sales to be transacted completely online, but is it reasonable to assume that in the not too distant future a substantial proportion will be? At LemonStand, we definitely believe that continuing technology advancement along with shifting consumer demographics and behavior over the next decade makes this very likely, which will turn a $1.6T market today into a $10T+ market in the not too distant future. Wow!
Millions of Online Stores
So, we know we’re in a huge market that is still in its infancy which presents an amazing long term opportunity for businesses who are willing to reinvent the retail experience online and fuel the shift in consumer behavior. But how many eCommerce websites are there in the world today and who is winning?
This is a difficult question to answer with accuracy, but we think that Omer Rachamim and his team at Dandy Loop, who recently published some global statistics on Internet Retailer, where he adapted earlier work by Referral Candy on the US market, has done a fantastic job at estimating the current market size. So what did he find?
He calculated that there are 12-24 million eCommerce stores selling products on the internet around the world today. This sounds like a huge number and an incredibly competitive market, but surprisingly only a small subset, 650,000 stores, are selling more than $1,000 US annually. The vast majority of online stores are simply not generating any meaningful revenue, at least not yet.
Umm, Revenue and Traffic Are Correlated
Robert Moore from RJMetrics took this a step further, identifying that 11 percent (110,000) of the top 1M websites on the internet by Alexa traffic ranking are eCommerce sites and calculating the distribution of these websites in total numbers as well as by share of retail sales, and came up with some very interesting results shown in the table below.
From this research, we know that the top 1% (Amazon, eBay, Walmart among them) of the top visited eCommerce sites on the Internet are capturing 34% of total sales. This is unsurprising for such big companies, with huge brands, and huge marketing dollars backing them. We call this the “fat head” (vs. long tail) of eCommerce stores and it is a very elite group. In the mid tier, eCommerce stores that break into the top 500,000 in Alexa rankings make up 51% of the total businesses and 63% of total revenue, still a very healthy showing.
Most interesting is the distribution in the bottom tier of RJMetrics’ analysis. This group still makes up almost 50% of total businesses, but only 3% of the total revenue. Now, don’t feel too bad for this group. Even for this group the mean revenue for each business is $1.5M per year and the median is $500k. That’s a pretty healthy revenue for many small businesses and far beyond what the group of 11-21M “long tail” eCommerce stores are doing at less than $1,000.
Recipe For eCommerce Success
So, how can you ensure your business doesn’t end up as one of those “long tail” eCommerce sites that generates less than $1,000 in a year? At LemonStand, we’re focused on helping businesses launch and grow into serious concerns, building their brands and a base of engaged customers that can propel them upward in terms of both traffic and revenue.
What are some of the key ingredients you need to make this happen? Here’s some of the things we see our top performing customers focusing on:
Define a Clear Strategy
- Clearly defining a market focus and a differentiated product offering that matches your target customer’s needs and wants.
- For more ideas on market and customer strategy, read How to Increase Conversion Rates by Building Customer Personas by our own Sid Bharath via RJMetrics
Create a Unique Brand Experience
- Crafting a completely unique brand and shopping experience that makes you stand out from the crowd of “long tail” competitors.
- Just because there are tools that make it possible to set up an online store in 15 minutes all by yourself, doesn’t make it a good business decision if you’re serious about getting meaningful revenue
- In fact, we surveyed our blog readers recently and 65% of respondents believe that a fully custom professional design results in the best conversion rates with 94% believing that at least some customization is required.
- With a rapidly growing percentage of overall eCommerce sales and the recent changes made by Google to favour mobile friendly websites, it is no longer optional to support an optimized buying experience on mobile devices of all sizes if you want to maximize the potential of your business
- According to eMarketer, in 2015 in the US mobile ecommerce will make up 22% of all eCommerce sales, and is growing fast, can you afford to filter out that much sales potential?
Marketing, Marketing, Marketing
- Systematic, focused marketing efforts aligned to your target market. Unfortunately, we don’t live in the “Field of Dreams” where customers will come to your site and buy by themselves.
- If you don’t have a plan to reach your target customer and let them know you’re out there and have what they’re looking for, your business is likely to go nowhere fast.
- Looking for some ideas? Check out this laundry list of 70+ epic eCommerce best practices courtesy of eConsultancy.com.
Experiment and Optimize – Always
- Constantly testing, analyzing and adjusting with a hunger to identify new opportunities to improve and grow in all areas of your business.
- A great example of the kind of testing we mean is A/B testing, which we think is so important, we published a free eBook called A/B Testing Your Way To More eCommerce Revenue
Invest in Professional Help
- Our top customers are great at operating their businesses, but have invested in specialized skills such as web design and development, digital marketing, conversion rate optimization, and more to make the most of their opportunity.
- For more details on how working with pros can help, check out 8 Ways a Marketing Agency Can Help An eCommerce Business by our friends at Practical ECommerce
Did we miss anything important? Please share your ideas and best practices on what has worked for your business below.