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E-Commerce & Online Auctions

E-Commerce & Online Auctions

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Executive summary

The E-Commerce and Online Auctions industry, which comprises companies that sell merchandise online, is growing rapidly as more time-strapped and cost-conscious consumers are enticed by the convenience of finding, comparing and purchasing products online easily and quickly. From big-box retailers to specific niche stores, consumers can purchase anything from clothing, precooked meals, bulk home goods and collectible antiques from their computer or smartphone. Driven by increased consumer spending and the rapidly growing number of total internet connections, revenue for the industry is expected to rise an annualized 16.1% over the five years to 2022, including an anticipated 7.1% increase in 2022, to reach $934.2 billion. Additionally, the industry experienced significant growth in 2020 as the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic provided consumers with an outlet for socially distanced shopping.
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industry revenue;

industry profit;

industry margin;

industry employment;

industry major players;

industry key external drivers;

industry product & structure segmentation;

industry key trends;

industry Life Cycle;

industry Geographic Breakdown;

industry Key Success Factors;

industry Key statistics for previous years;

forecast of industry Key statistics for the next 5 years;

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Reference Wordlist

High barriers to entry mean that new companies struggle to enter an industry, while low barriers mean it is easy for new companies to enter an industry.

Compares the amount of money spent on capital (plant, machinery and equipment) with that spent on labor.
IBISWorld uses the ratio of depreciation to wages as a proxy for capital intensity. High capital intensity is more than $ 0.333 of capital to $ 1 of labor; medium is $ 0.125 to $ 0.333 of capital to $ 1 of labor; low is less than $ 0.125 of capital for every $ 1 of labor.

The dollar figures in the Key Statistics table, including forecasts, are adjusted for inflation using the current year (i.e. year published) as the base year. This removes the impact of changes in the purchasing power of the dollar, leaving only the "real" growth or decline in industry metrics. The inflation adjustments in IBISWorld’s reports are made using the US Bureau of Economic Analysis’ implicit GDP price deflator.

Spending on industry goods and services within the United States, regardless of their country of origin. It is derived by adding imports to industry revenue, and then subtracting exports.

The number of permanent, part-time, temporary and seasonal employees, working proprietors, partners, managers and executives within the industry.

Colloquial Terminology

Extremely large data sets that are analyzed using software to identify consumer and market trends.

Stores that have a physical presence and location, as opposed to online retailers.

Software that communicates with people via voice or message and is designed to simulate human conversation.

A marketing approach in which companies market to consumers using a variety of platforms, such as email and print advertisement.

A person that works in a warehouse finding items that are shipped to customers.

A subset of e-commerce that involves using social media to assist in the online buying and selling of products and services.


The rapid and continuous rise of the internet has given industry companies the opportunity to reach hundreds of millions of customers without opening even a single store. Faster internet speeds and a surge in mobile device use have contributed to the mainstream adoption of internet shopping, which has contributed to stronger industry operating profit. Economies of scale have also helped large industry companies boost profit, as these companies are able to achieve better purchases and shipping rates. Finally, wage expense has been outpaced by revenue growth, as new technology has increased per-employee productivity, which has reduced the number of hires needed to keep up with rising demand.

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