2022 is slowly coming to an end, and with it another eventful year in the history of e-commerce. We have listed some of the most important topics of the last five years. What has moved the market? Who were the biggest players? And how have sales actually developed over the past few years? You can find out all about it here.

  1. 2017: China cracks the trillion and the bitcoin breakthrough
  2. 2018: The rise of mobile commerce and the trade war between the USA and China
  3. 2019: Fridays For Future and consequences of the trade war
  4. 2020: The Corona pandemic and new challenges from Brexit
  5. 2021: Fulfillment gains importance and the impact of Brexit
  6. 2022: The war in Ukraine and global inflation
  7. 2023: Starting with the right strategy

2017: China cracks the trillion and the bitcoin breakthrough

In 2017, the rise of e-commerce already seemed unstoppable, with sales of about $2,382 billion and about 1.66 billion online shoppers worldwide.

  • Chinese consumers increased their purchases online in 2017, causing e-retail sales in the world's leading e-commerce market to exceed one trillion U.S. dollars for the first time.
  • Towards the end of the year, cryptocurrencies began to experience unprecedented growth. The bitcoin price rose from under $1,000 in January to over $19,000 in December. As a result, the total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies reached around $820 billion in January 2018 before crashing later that month. Despite this crash, the crypto market has seen steady growth.
  • Instagram took it up a notch and made mobile shopping even more attractive with shoppable posts.

2018: The rise of mobile commerce and the trade war between the USA and China

Sales increased to approximately $2,982 billion in 2018, generated by approximately 1.8 billion shoppers worldwide.

  • In 2018, 40% of all e-commerce sales in the U.S. alone were made via mobile. Only baby boomers still preferred to shop locally.

40% of U.S. consumers said mobile shopping was more convenient and 90% believed they could get better deals online than in person.

Infografik zu E-Commerce auf Mobilgeräten 2018

Purchases via voice assistants such as Alexa increased, making online shopping even more convenient. With the help of this trend, Amazon alone accounted for 80% of the growth of the entire e-commerce industry this year.

  • From the beginning of the year, a trade war broke out between the United States and the People's Republic of China. The main reason for this was the long-standing trade deficit of the USA with China, which the then US President Trump wanted to reduce according to his own statements. The compensation was to be provided by punitive tariffs against Chinese imports into the USA. China also responded with tariffs on U.S. goods. Both parties then initiated further rounds of punitive tariffs. In December, there were initial attempts by both sides to reach an agreement, but with little success.

2019: Fridays For Future and consequences of the trade war

2019 online retailing in the USA generated sales of USD 3,351 billion, surpassing bricks-and-mortar retailing for the first time. Worldwide, the number of online shoppers rose to around 1.92 billion.

  • The Fridays for Future movement grew rapidly and sustainability became increasingly important. Learn how to make your eCommerce logistics greener in our Sustainability Whitepaper.
  • Meanwhile, the consequences of the trade war between the U.S. and China, which has been ongoing since 2018, are impacting global economic growth. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) had to increasingly revise its forecast for global economic growth downwards. It was not only the U.S. and China that were making losses: numerous European companies based in China and their supply chains were affected by the trade war. Missing goods and extended delivery times were the result. In October, after long negotiations, there was a partial agreement in the trade dispute.

2020: The Corona pandemic and new challenges from Brexit

With the onset of the Corona pandemic in 2020, this effect continued to intensify. The pandemic forced many retailers to close their physical stores and offer their goods online. According to Capterra, 95% of Germans said they had bought something online this year. The so-called covid boost generated $4,248 billion in global sales, an increase of about 20% compared to 2019, and the number of online shoppers rose to 2.05 billion.

  • 21% of Germans still want to order groceries online. Monthly spending on online groceries has actually more than doubled in the US as a result of the pandemic. According to Adobe, U.S. consumers spend an average of $6.7 billion on online grocery orders each month, up from $3.1 billion before the pandemic.
  • The United Kingdom was an exception to this success. As a result of Brexit, online retailers selling to customers in the UK faced major challenges. Rising shipping costs, delivery delays, new regulations and increasing paperwork made it difficult to sell their own products.

2021: Fulfillment gains importance and the impact of Brexit

In 2021, more than 2.14 billion shoppers regularly made their purchases online, contributing to global sales of $5,211 billion.

  • Almost 73% of all purchases were made via mobile devices. The trend continues to rise. Fulfillment played a big role in this for e-commerce companies worldwide. 79% of consumers were more likely to shop with companies that offered fast shipping times at low or no cost. Brands gained an advantage by focusing on improved inventory management, increased productivity, and streamlining their fulfillment processes.
  • Meanwhile, the effects of Brexit were already becoming apparent. According to codept, imports from the EU to the UK fell by 28.8% and from the UK to Europe by 40.7%, making it difficult for stores to replenish stocks and fulfill orders.

2022: The war in Ukraine and global inflation

Sales in 2022 were expected to double from 2019 (see chart), but the shocking attack on Ukraine, coupled with the impact of the pandemic and resource shortages, caused severe inflation, pushing up prices across Europe. In Germany alone, consumers paid an average of 7.3 percent more for goods and services in March than a year earlier. Food and energy prices in particular have risen sharply and continue to do so. As a result, consumers are reducing their spending and sales are falling.

Infograftik Umsätze im E-Commerce weltweit 2014 bis 2026

The pre-Christmas season and with it the strongest sales period of the year is just around the corner. In the past, Black Friday and Cyber Monday have always broken the sales records of the previous year. That is not to be expected this year. In order to get consumers excited about your business despite the declining purchasing power, a well-thought-out setup is the key.

For example, a research study by getconvey.com shows that 73.6% of shoppers believe shipping plays a critical role in their overall shopping experience.

Find out here how to optimally prepare your logistics for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

2023: Starting with the right strategy

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) lowered its global growth forecast for the coming year to 2.7 percent. It said the forecast was the weakest in 20 years, with the exception of predictions during the pandemic and the global financial crisis. Right now, it is worth paying attention to trends for the coming year and learning from the mistakes of the previous year. More and more companies are turning to external fulfillment service providers for this purpose. Outsourcing your fulfillment allows you to reduce your error rate and lets you focus on trends and customer service.

Get ready for 2023! Warehousing1 is happy to support you in organizing the logistics of your online store. Through our network of over 1,000 warehouse locations, we identify the perfect fulfillment & storage solution for you and your business. Please feel free to make an appointment for a free consultation today. One of our experts will get back to you within 24 hours.