Source: Digital Market Outlook
According to a survey conducted by the US Census Bureau, average Americans spent less time shopping than they did 15 years ago. The census bureau started conducting surveys on American Time Use back in 2003 and in 2018. It found out that the average time spent shopping on consumer goods went down from 12 hours to 10 hours. Among its most likely causes is the imminent rise of online shopping, which was further accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. This article will go through the number of digital shoppers in the US in 2021 and will tackle the topics below:
Online shopping penetration is predicted to rise over the years: from Statista’s forecast of 84.7% in 2020, it will climb to 87% in 2021 (Statista, 2020). Indeed, global retail ecommerce revenue is expected to reach $6.54 trillion by 2023 (eMarketer, 2019). Plus, with ecommerce sales increasing by 25% during the COVID-19 pandemic (BigCommerce, 2020), this figure could be higher than expected.
Source: Digital Market Outlook
The long-running stereotype of women shopping more than men, propagated by glossy magazines and television tropes, is being reshaped by online shopping.
In 2020, there was barely any difference in the shopping habits of men and women. According to a survey by ClearSale, 30% of men shop at least once a week versus 24% for women (ClearSale, 2021). When asked about how much their online shopping habits changed in 2020 during the pandemic, more men (44%) said the frequency of their purchases increased compared to 44% of women. Looking at it further, around 40% of males aged 18 to 34 years want to buy everything online compared to around 33% of females of the same age.
Source: ClearSale, 2021
However, when it comes to how much they spend when shopping online, 36% of men have at least once purchased an item worth over $,1000 compared to only 18% of women, according to NPR/Marist Poll (NPR, 2018). Meanwhile, a more recent survey revealed that 50% of men spend over $65 every month on online purchases, making them bigger spenders than women (ClearSale, 2021). This behavior can be attributed to the difference in the shopping habits between men and women, with women being smart shoppers by purchasing discounted items compared to men who almost always buy an item at full price.
Millennials in the US are part of the largest age group comprising at least 40% of the labor force in the country. Apart from being the largest age group, Millennials also account for the most number of Internet users. Almost 100% say that they use the Internet daily, according to a study by Pew Research (Pew Research Center, 2019). What is more, with the pandemic forcing a lot of people to stay at home, consumers of all ages have had to purchase online for the first time (Morning Consult, 2020).
Source: BigCommerce; StatistaDesigned by
This is why it comes as no surprise when it comes to shopping preference, Millennials lead the pack by accounting for 37.4% of all American digital buyers in 2020, followed by Generation X (30.1%), Gen Zers (18.2%), and Baby Boomers(14.6%) (eMarketer, 2020).
In addition to that, Bizrate Insights conducted a study and found out the online shopping and buying-related activities by American Internet users. The study is categorized by age brackets to give more context to the behaviors of American digital shoppers online. All of the respondents’ top answer is that they purchased a product on Amazon, either on the website or the mobile app, garnering a total average of 54.4% among the respondents. Notably, the older portion of millennials, ages between 30 & 39, are the top shoppers of Amazon (eMarketer, 2018).
Researching a product digitally before purchasing in-store is the second topmost priority for digital shoppers with a total average of 46.1% across all age brackets. Millennials rose at the top as the most conscious shoppers with 55.8% of ages between 18 & 29 and 54% for ages between 30 & 39 listings this as one of their answers (eMarketer, 2018).
The third most common behavior among digital shoppers is they shop in other online marketplaces such as Amazon independent sellers, Etsy, and eBay among others. 50% of Gen Zers and young millennials or ages between 18 & 29 answered this and the lowest are Boomers with only 41% of the listing this as one of their answers (eMarketer, 2018).
A more recent global survey conducted by Statista echoes these findings. As of 2020, 60% of online shoppers still do some research before purchasing and 55% find customer reviews very helpful in their decision-making process (Statista, 2020). Moreover, speed is still an important factor with a good chunk of shoppers preferring express shipping. There are also consumers who mentioned wanting to get hold of their online purchases on the same day that they bought it.
Interestingly, however, while many people prefer online shopping because of its convenience, 37% of ecommerce customers still prefer seeing the item in person before making their purchase.
When I plan a major purchase, I always do some research on the internet first%
Customer reviews on the internet are very helpful%
I want to see an item before I buy it%
I prefer to use my smartphone or tablet to research on products and to make major new purchases%
When I order an item, I prefer express shipping%
When I buy an item, I want to hold it in my hand the same day%
I miss the shopping experience when I shop online%
I usually manage habitual / recurrent orders directly via my smartphone or tablet%
Sometimes I deliberately order more items than I want to keep%
None of the above%
Source: Statista Global Consumer SurveyDesigned by
Predicting shopping behaviors is a must for retail establishments to maximize profits. According to a survey conducted by Workarea, among 25 of their online merchants, shoppers tend to be more active at the beginning of the week, between Sunday or Monday. The online shops surveyed received 14.81% more traffic on Sunday and 15.33% more on Monday (Workarea, 2017).
On the other hand, as the traffic takes a dip by the weekend, conversion rates become much higher. This can be associated with the shopper’s mindset that by the weekend, people tend to shop for the things that they’ll be needed by next week. It follows that although conversion rates are higher on Fridays, the total revenue was still low due to smaller shopping sessions.
Another interesting thing about digital shopping behaviors today is that, in light of the pandemic, more people find themselves shopping online. For instance, 17% of consumers now shop two to three times a week compared to 12% pre-pandemic. Nine percent also reported shopping four to six times a week (APAC, 2020).
A 2020 survey from Global Web Index also found that social commerce is gaining traction worldwide, with consumers of all ages discovering products and even buying them through social networks (Global Web Index, 2020). However, it seems that this trend may take some time to take the US by storm. While many Americans use social media to find brands and products, only 18.5% said they paid to purchase the product through the social network (eMarketer, 2020). Moreover, social commerce reach in the US has been relatively low as of June 2020, with a whopping 70.4% social media users never having purchased an item through social platforms.
Source: Global Web Index, 2020
Meanwhile, in terms of how US consumers shop online, many have shifted to using their mobile devices rather than their personal laptops. This signals a need for online retailers to improve the mobile-responsiveness of their sites or perhaps even create their own mobile app to enhance the shopping experience (ClearSale, 2021).
Source: ClearsaleDesigned by
As for cart abandonment, it is an issue that is becoming a bigger challenge for online retailers. In 2020 alone, the average documented online shopping cart abandonment rate is at 69.80% according to Baymard Institute (Baymard Institute, 2020).
In this study conducted by Baymard.com, the most common reason is that the extra costs, like shipping, tax, and other fees are too high (49%). They also abandon their cart if the site wanted them to create an account (24%) and if the delivery was too slow (19%) (Baymard Institute, 2020).
Extra costs too high%
The site wanted me to create an account%
Delivery was too slow%
Too long/complicated checkout process%
I didn't trust the site with my credit card information%
I couldn't see/calculate total order cost up-front%
Website had errors/crashed%
Returns policy wasn't satisfactory%
Not enough payment methods available%
Credit card was declined%
Source: Baymard Institute, 2021Designed by
The US eCommerce is one of the most developed in the world. Most of the global brands in the US also dominate other countries’ eCommerce markets. According to Disfold, Amazon holds the top spot as the most visited site in the US with estimated monthly traffic of 2.467 billion. This comes as no surprise considering that 92% of American online shoppers admitted that they have bought at least once in the said site based on NPR/Marist Poll’s survey. The second spot belongs to eBay, one of the pioneers of eCommerce in the US, with 1.115 billion monthly visits. Walmart is third with 321 million visits. A significant drop in monthly site visits compared to the top two (Disfold, 2020)
Source: disfold.comDesigned by
Also, eMarketer and Search Engine Land released the sales of the top e-retailers in the US in 2019. Once again, Amazon holds the top spot with $269.41 billion in sales. Walmart clinched the second spot with $41.01 billion; followed by eBay with $31.65 billion (Statista, 2020).
Qurate Retail Group
Source: eMarketer, Search Engine LandDesigned by
Overall, ecommerce in the US has grown by 44% in 2020. It comprises 21.3% of total retail sales in the country at $861.12 billion, making it the highest annual growth in ecommerce in the US in 20 years (Digital Commerce 360, 2020). This is in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic which, according to the report, contributed an additional $174.87 billion in ecommerce revenue for the year.
Source; Digital Commerce 360, US Department of Commerce
Meanwhile, there is a SaaS vertical that caters specifically to the ecommerce market by offering a variety of related services in a software package: ecommerce software.
Source: UPS, 2019
According to a survey conducted by UPS, credit cards (stored) are still the most popular payment method among online shoppers in the Americas with 82% of them saying they use it for online transactions (UPS, 2019). Payment gateway providers such as PayPal and Alipay came in second place with 66% and runners-up include gift cards at 41%, Visa Checkout and Masterpass with 26%, and digital wallets at 11%.
eCommerce as an industry in the US continues to grow. To keep this trajectory, e-retailers must keep up and watch for incoming trends to retain customer loyalty. FinancesOnline recently looked up potential future trends that may play a crucial role in the eCommerce industry this 2020s.
AI assistants and chatbots will be a big part of the eCommerce industry. The difference between online shops and brick-and-mortar stores is that physical shops have sales personnel that can quickly attend to your needs. However, in an online store, customer support is lacking. This can be addressed by having your very own AI that can answer, assist, and personalize the shopping needs of your customers. In a 2017 Statista study, 34% of online shoppers said that they would be comfortable to have an AI answer their queries. Meanwhile, a more recent survey from CGS revealed that 30% of consumers believe chatbots make it easier to get solutions to customer service issues (CGS, 2019)
AI can also help in personalizing the shopping experience of your customers by keeping tabs on their shopping history. Adobe revealed that for nearly half of online shoppers, personalized ecommerce experiences are important (Adobe, 2020). Plus, with 43% of ecommerce leaders reporting that they have plans to improve their personalization efforts in the coming months (Reflektion, 2020), it is well worth the time for your business to keep up.
Lastly, while social commerce may yet to build a strong presence in the US, we can expect that the use of social media for shopping may become more prevalent in the coming years. This is partly because of the continual improvements to social commerce solutions such as Facebook Marketplace and Instagram shop and the number of brands who are looking to take advantage of the huge market presence to be had in these social media sites. In fact, among the social media activities that impact online shopping include reading user comments, viewing ads, and ascertaining brand reputation on social networks.
Showing no signs of slowing down, eCommerce in the US will continue to grow and the trends will arise along with it.
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