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How fast is e-commerce growing globally?

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E-commerce's share of retail sales will more than double 2017-2027.

A new study reveals some impressive numbers around the global expansion of e-commerce.

E-commerce is forecast to constitute 41% of global retail sales by 2027, a more than 100% increase from its share of just 18% in 2017, according to a survey of retail and CPG companies around the world from Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

The “Winning Formulas for E-commerce Growth" study indicates e-commerce sales increased 3% in Europe and 7% in both the U.S. and Asia in 2022. BCG expects global e-commerce growth to achieve a 9% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) through 2027—not meeting the 12% to 14% CAGR BCG was tracking before the COVID-19 pandemic, but still more than double the projected brick-and-mortar retail growth of 4%.

CPG and retail respondents were also split into groups of "winners" (businesses that reported post-pandemic growth above 30% per annum and are confident of seeing the same or higher growth to 2027) and "laggards" (organizations reporting post-pandemic growth of 10% or less per annum and lacking confidence about their future e-commerce growth). Winners made up 27% of retailers and 20% of CPG companies, with 21% of the retailers and 25% of the CPG businesses surveyed were identified as laggards.

"While e-commerce is gradually reverting to its pre-COVID-19 trajectory, the landscape has undergone a notable and lasting transformation," said Martin Barthel, partner and managing director at BCG and a co-author of the study. "The rivalry between emerging entrants and established incumbents has heightened, driven by the purchasing patterns of baby boomers and Gen-X, who collectively wield substantial influence over today's e-commerce sales."

"In the realms of both retail and consumer packaged goods, the divide between e-commerce frontrunners and those trailing behind is unmistakable, yet it remains a gap that can be bridged," said Robert Derow, BCG leader for digital growth in North America and co-author of the report. "Many markets and categories are actually still years away from full e-commerce maturity, with tailwinds strong enough to justify investing greater capital and resources into winning capabilities and organizations."

[Read more: These verticals are driving e-commerce growth]

The BCG survey, which was conducted in the second quarter of 2023, included respondents from 410 retail and 415 CPG companies around the world with revenues ranging from $50 million to more than $10 billion.

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