15% of all retail spending happened online last year. Internet Retailer's new report offers an early look at how the biggest online merchants and marketplaces around the world performed and are growing quickly.

Shoppers around the world spent $2.86 trillion on retail goods purchased on the web in 2018, an 18.0% uptick from $2.43 trillion the previous year, Internet Retailer estimates. The top 10 retailers in online sales last year accounted for 15.1% of all ecommerce globally, according to the newly released 2019 Top Performers in Global Ecommerce report.

For 2017, the same 10 retailers took a 14.5% slice of the worldwide online sales pie. The big players have been driving growth, as dominant names like Amazon.com Inc. continue their quest to capture market share. This means movement at the top of the leader board has an outsized impact on how the overall ecommerce landscape shapes up.

The first-of-its-kind Top Performers in Global Ecommerce report ranks 100 retailers and marketplaces across major geographic regions and merchandise categories based on their preliminary 2018 global web sales or gross merchandise value. As a precursor to publishing Internet Retailer’s 2019 Top 1000 list of North American heavyweights, this report is a bite-sized look at how the top ecommerce performers and key markets fared last year.


To derive estimates for online retail revenue and growth for leading merchants—frequently before public retailers reported their year-end earnings—researchers studied year-to-date growth, website traffic patterns and company news to guide calculations. Insights in this report also include analysis of worldwide online shopping behavior and historical retail figures released by government agencies in the two largest ecommerce markets in the world: the U.S. and China.

In 2018, ecommerce accounted for 15.2% of total retail sales globally.

One of the most telling metrics measuring the health of ecommerce is ecommerce penetration, and online’s share of total retail sales has

steadily been on the rise. In 2018, ecommerce accounted for 15.2% of total retail sales globally, Internet Retailer estimates. This represented a 34.5% boost in global ecommerce penetration in just two years.

With a moderate increase in total retail sales across the world last year—a 3.3% bump to $18.84 trillion from $18.25 trillion—ecommerce is the engine propelling the overall growth. Online sales accounted for nearly three-quarters of total retail sales growth last year, which is up from 69.3% in 2017. When excluding ecommerce from the equation, in-store retail growth registered only 1.0% for 2018.


Other points of interest:

  • Amazon brought in more than four-and-a-half times the online sales of its closest competitor in the U.S. and nearly two-and-a-half times the ecommerce revenue of Chinese giant JD.com Inc., which holds the No. 2 spot on the global leader board. (Amazon’s web sales number and associated ranking capture its direct first-party sales and commissions the mass merchant receives from third-party sellers listing on its marketplace but excludes actual sales from third-party sellers completing orders through the platform and revenue generated by Amazon Web Services, the company’s cloud computing platform. Since JD.com also is a hybrid marketplace and direct seller, its numbers are calculated using the same methodology.)
  • In China, online’s share of total retail sales for physical goods exceeded 18% last year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics of China, a government agency. This is the highest ecommerce penetration of any major economy.
  • The GMV of goods sold on Taobao and Tmall, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s dominant Chinese marketplaces, hit $947.36 billion in 2018 and comprised more than 90% of online retail in the country.
  • In the emerging South American ecommerce market, Brazilian retailer Magazine Luiza SA is quickly catching up to regional leader B2W Digital after registering 2018 online sales growth exceeding 60%—more than double the rate of other leaders making the top 10 list. Magazine Luiza, a retail chain, acknowledges the challenges of fulfilling orders in a cash economy where many customers are low income and have to go to the bank to pay off their online purchases in cash before items are shipped plus a number of other ecommerce deterrents specific to the market. But dealing effectively with those obstacles has proven successful. For example, Magazine Luiza says omnichannel improvements to the in-store pickup program has helped sidestep the issue of security concerns with delivering orders with high crime rates.

For more insights on the state of global ecommerce and market leaders, check out the 41-page 2019 Top Performers in Global Ecommerce report, which includes:

  • Growth and 2018 sales figures for:
    • Top 10 global online retailers
    • Top 10 regional online retailers in Europe, Asia and Latin America
    • Top 10 online retailers in the U.S. and China
    • Top 10 category leaders selling apparel, health/beauty and luxury items
  • Total global gross merchandise value (GMV) for the top five global ecommerce marketplaces plus growth rates
  • Overview of the world’s two largest retail markets—the U.S. and China—with ecommerce and total retail sales, sales growth and online penetration
  • Snapshot of the last decade of total retail sales vs. ecommerce growth in the U.S.
  • 10-year timeline of ecommerce penetration of the American retail economy plus an analysis of the web’s share of total retail growth in the U.S. for the last decade
  • Data on Amazon’s first-party sales, GMV and market share
  • 20+ charts and tables detailing data on the world’s 100 largest online retailers

The 2019 Top Performers in Global Ecommerce report is now available in a downloadable PDF format for $299 and is included in Digital Commerce 360 Gold and Platinum memberships.