The 5 year predictions are in!

In our first ever e-commerce predictions survey we asked the following four questions from 200 e-commerce professionals.  If you'd like to participate in next year's e-commerce predictions survey sign up here.


e-Commerce as a Percentage of Retail Sales

In the last 5 years US e-commerce sales as a percentage of total retail sales have gone from roughly 5% of total retail sales to 8.4% as measured by the Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce. By 2021, what percentage of total retail sales will e-commerce account for?

Respondents overwhelmingly felt that e-commerce would continue to grow as a percentage of retail sales with over 65% feeling e-commerce would more than double it's share of retail sales in 5 years.

Ranking Key Trends Impact on the Future of e-Commerce

Next, we asked people to rate how several important trends will impact e-commerce over the next 5 years.

The majority of the respondents felt the following key trends would play a very important role in e-commerce within 5 years.

  • Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Big Data - The development of artificial intelligence and machine learning coupled with the explosion of data are driving improvements in many areas of e-commerce including site search, personalization, marketing technology and customer service among other advancements.

  • Millennials (ages 18-34) overtaking Baby Boomers (ages 51-69) as the largest living generation at 75.4 million adults vs. 74.9 million.
  • CyberSecurity - Daily life, economic vitality, and national security depending on the progression of a stable, safe, and resilient Internet.
  • Evolution of User Interfaces - Innovations in the way humans interact with computers from voice and gesture-based interfaces to wearable computing and sensor networks among others.
  • Internet of Things (IoT) - Everyday objects with network connectivity are expected to account for 24 billion bringing a wave of smart devices into our lives. It is projected that there will be 34 billion devices connected to the internet by 2020, up from 10 billion in 2015.

While, other hyped technology trends like Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, 3D Printing, Driverless Vehicles and Drones people felt less optimistic about their importance on the role of e-commerce in the next 5 years.

Internet Retailer Top 25 Winners & Losers

We asked people to look into their crystal balls to predict how the Internet Retailer top 25 publicly traded companies would perform relative to the S&P 500 in the next 5 years?

No big surprises here, Amazon leads the pack with 88% of people feeling they will outperform the S&P 500 over the next 5 years with Apple, Google, Costco and Wayfair rounding out the top 5.  On the other end of the scale over 65% people felt that Groupon, Staples, Office Depot, Macy's and Sears would under perform the S&P 500 with Sears receiving nearly an 85% no confidence vote. 

Tech & Services Company Winners & Losers

Finally, we asked what about the major technology companies and service providers supporting the e-commerce industry, how will they perform better or worse than their current 52 week high over the next 5 years?

People feel very optimistic about Google, Facebook, Salesforce and Shopify, while they are less optimistic about the prospects for Channel Advisor, Marketo, IBM, eBay and Yahoo.

Less than 50% of respondents feel that the major carriers, FedEx and UPS, will perform better than their 52 week high over the next 5 years.  People are much more skeptical about the performance of the major credit card companies over the next 5 years.  25% or fewer respondents think Visa, Mastercard and American Express will outperform their 52 week high. 

Key Takeaways

  • E-commerce should continue to take a larger share of the over retail pie and seems most certainly will influence an even larger percentage of purchases continuing to put pressure on legacy brick and mortar business models.
  • Amazon appears unstoppable, but a growth in direct to consumer brands leveraging new platforms like Shopify to get to market faster than ever before is creating a dynamic and healthy industry.
  • E-commerce appears poised to change more in the next 5 years than it has in the last 20 years with the rise of mobile and voice commerce and the major demographic shift to the purchasing power of millennials.
  • Machine learning will user in major improvements to the customer experience, but also is expected to begin benefiting e-commerce companies bottom lines as they require less people to do the work that was once required.

Check out our recently published 2022 e-commerce predictions and if you'd like to take next year's survey then sign up and we'll send you the survey in January.