GLOBAL – Global ecommerce sales increased by 13% to reach approximately US$29 trillion in the year 2017, according to latest figures from United Nations Conference on trade and development (UNCTAD).

The number of online shoppers increased by 12% to 1.3 billion people, indicating a strong preference for online shopping as demand for convenience and reliability rises.

The data shows most internet buyers purchased goods and services from domestic vendors while, the share of those buying from abroad rose from 15% in 2015 to 21% in 2017.

This upward momentum was largely attributed to a significant growth in the United States.

Cross-border business-to-consumer (B2C) sales reached an estimated US$412 billion, accounting for almost 11% of total B2C e-commerce, a 4% hike on the previous year’s numbers.

“The new figures show that e-commerce is indeed creating export opportunities,” said UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi.

“But the question from a development standpoint is whether businesses in developing countries are prepared to seize the opportunities.”

The United States remained to the top position in the list of top ten ecommerce markets, where online sales were three times higher than in Japan and more than four times higher than in China.

Germany climbed higher on the top list, overtaking Republic of Korea as the fourth largest online market.

Business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce accounted for 88% of all online sales with Business-to-Consumer segment recording the most growth, increasing by 22% to reach US$3.9 trillion in 2017.

In the B2C market, China increased its lead on the United States, while the United Kingdom held on to third place.

In the US, nonstore sales mainly take place online but also include other channels, such as mail and telephone orders, door-to-door sales and sales through vending machines.

According to DigitalEcommerce360, Inc., No. 1 in the United States and in Internet Retailer’s 2018 Top 1000, continues to increase its strong hold of the U.S. retail market.

While China had the largest number of internet buyers at 440 million, UK consumers were still the most likely to shop on the internet, with 82% of people aged 15 and older making purchases online in 2017.