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. 

Growth Potential

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.