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eCommerce Environment

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The technology pedigree of the US needs little introduction. Many of the globally-known, household names have originated from the country. Internet penetration at nearly 87% is as high as in most European countries although geography can make supplying the infrastructure difficult and expensive. Increasing at a rate of 7%, the total connected population is still showing signs of healthy growth as the same issues with rolling out the infrastructure also make use of the internet and ecommerce attractive – in some areas it is difficult to physically visit the stores of the most popular brands.


This high level of internet penetration and the geographical make-up of the country lend itself to strong ecommerce adoption; the US Department of Commerce reported e-retail sales were worth $305bn in 2014 and growing at a rate of 15%.


Key categories include electricals (22% of total) and apparel & accessories (20%). With this in mind, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the majority of the top 10 US online retailers are multi-category.

USA Web Sales Data

USA eCommerce Environment Retailer Brands

As with all markets, there are peak trading events and the US leads the way with Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Thanksgiving is the fourth Thursday of November with Black Friday being the following day and Cyber Monday the following Monday. The first two promotional dates have long been in the diary although online has added a new dimension to both occasions.


Mobile (smartphone and tablet) is now responsible for over 30% of all ecommerce sales in the US. This is a trend that is set to continue and changes the way in which shoppers interact and trade with brands. Smartphone shopping outstrips tablet slightly at 14% vs 13%. By way of example, in August 2014 over 158 million US consumers interacted with retail brands via their apps or mobile sites.


In 2015, smartphone-enabled online retail sales were expected to reach nearly $28bn.

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Social Media

With a rapidly-growing base of social media users (expected to be 200 million by 2020), retail brands are adopting this key communications channel. Users interact with brands differently depending on sector, partly based on product value (reassurance and research) but also on ‘social’ requirements value.


Category Percentage of Consumers
Electronics 31%
Home Furnishing 40%
Automotive 32%
Entertainment 18%
Baby / Toddler 56%
Apparel 29%
Health / Wellness 33%
Food / Beverage 21%

Percentage of consumers that use social media during their shopping journey by category: Source, Deloitte Digital


Facebook is by-far the largest network but others, such as Pinterest and Instagram, can have key roles in certain sectors and age groups.


Google dominates the search landscape in America with 64% of total search traffic. However, providers such as Bing and Yahoo! have considerable numbers of users so while not necessarily the majority players in the market, they still represent millions of potential customers.


Core Search Entity Explicit Core Search Share (%)
Google Sites 64.0%
Microsoft Sites 20.3%
Yahoo Sites 12.7%

Source: comScore Explicit Core Search Share Report


Cross-Border Shopping

According to a study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of FedEx (09/14), 76% of US online shoppers have made a purchase from a merchant outside of their territory.


Figures reported by showed that in 2013 34.1 million cross-border online shoppers would buy $40.6bn worth of goods growing to 41.8 million buying $80.2bn by 2018. US online consumers shopped with the UK (49%), China (39%), Canada (34%), Hong Kong (20%) and Australia (18%).

cross-border ecommmerce usa


Further information

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Legal This section illustrates the legal environment in the US.
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Customer Experience Retail is all about customer expectations and experience. This section provides insight into the US consumer, their expectations and concerns.
Finance and Payments

Finance and Payments

Finance and Payments A key area for any business concerns how to take payment for products and services offered. This section reviews common payment types and trends that are taking place in the US.


Taxation A crucial area for any business to understand, this section focuses on sales tax; highlighting some of the complexities involved in trading into the US – 50 states and over 12,000 jurisdictions.


Logistics This section examines significant trends, advances and practices in US logistics and delivery.

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