As demand for customizable goods and rapid comparison shopping increases, people of all ages flock to e-tailers and online auction houses.
By the Numbers
6.8%: Annual average profit margin, according to IBISWorld
61,062: Number of enterprises expected to exist in 2017, according to IBISWorld
205,791: Number of people expected to be employed in the field in 2017
8.8%: Projected annual revenue increase from 2012 to 2017, according to IBISWorld
$334.3 billion: U.S. e-commerce spending by the end of 2017
Why It's Hot
The ability to compare prices across different platforms gives e-commerce outlets a leg up with shoppers. In particular, more and more customers look for one-of-a-kind vintage duds, organic goods, and travel deals. According to Plunkett Research, travel sales alone have grown in the United States at a 16% rate in 2012 and are projected to reach $125 billion by the end of the year.
Fastest Growing Segment
Jack Plunkett of Plunkett Research says that growth can be seen across all age spectra. About 75 million people ages 46 to 84 are living today, many of whom are still in their "power-earning years" and have a high potential for discretionary spending. At the other end of the continuum, Gen-Yers (the largest age demographic to date) still have a strong presence in online retail spaces and auction houses despite their well-documented job woes.
The number of enterprises in this industry is expected to increase from 52,969 to more than 61,000 over the next five years. As such, entrepreneurs building new ventures would do well to focus on localization and customization, which are two big selling points with customers.
The e-commerce and online auction arena grew 10.4% from 2007 to 2012, with 8.8% more growth expected annually through 2017, according to industry research firm IBISWorld. Employment in the online shopping arena is also expected to creep upward, from 177,642 jobs last year to 183,396 by the end of 2012, and nearly 206,000 in 2017.
JUDITH OHIKUARE is a reporter for Inc. magazine. She was a features intern for Seventeen magazine, where she covered health and wellness, and her work has been also been published in Marie Claire. Judith is from Brooklyn, New York. @ohikuare