Global Online Retail Sales to Hit $6.8 Trillion by 2028

Global Online Retail Sales to Hit $6.8 Trillion by 2028

According to a recent report from Forrester, online sales in the U.S. alone will reach $1.6 trillion by that period, up from $1 trillion in 2023.

Forrester found that online purchasing still resonates with a large segment of U.S. consumers, although it has moderated in the years since the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Although widespread store closures and social distancing during the pandemic turbocharged e-commerce growth, recent years saw a growth reversal as consumers flocked back to physical stores,” Jitender Miglani, principal forecast analyst at Forrester, wrote in a blog post on the report. “Looking ahead at 2024 and beyond, we expect online sales to regain momentum from shopping offers and generative AI initiatives.”

The report, which included information from 40 countries that represent 88% of the world’s gross domestic product, found that online sales growth was primarily due to the growth of marketplaces, social commerce, online grocery buying, BOPIS, quick commerce, livestream selling, and DTC selling.

In the shorter term, a recent Adobe online sales report revealed that while U.S. consumers have been trading down in terms of online spending, sales in the channel are still up 7% from a year ago from Jan. 1 through April 30.

While online sales continue to grow, physical stores remain integral to much of the shopping experience. A separate report in 2023 from the International Council of Shopping Centers found that when a new store opens, online shopping in the area increases by 6.9%, an effect that grows to 13.9% for DTC brands. Conversely, closing a brick-and-mortar location decreases a brand’s online sales by 11.5%.

As these trends play out, a growing number of DTC brands are accelerating the pace of opening pop-up shops and permanent brick-and-mortar locations and forming wholesale partnerships to broaden their base of consumers and meet customers where they shop. This is part of a movement toward a hybrid operating model between online and physical retail as more brands recognize the limits of selling exclusively through e-commerce. A recent NuOrder report found wholesale was the most profitable brand investment channel.

Also Read: The Future of Retail is AI: Personalized, Efficient, and Customer-Centric

“The hybrid business model that incorporates both online and brick-and-mortar elements is crucial for modern retail business growth,” Miglani said in an email. “It leverages the strengths of both physical and digital platforms to offer a seamless customer experience. It helps meet consumer expectations for flexibility and convenience by providing multiple touchpoints for engagement. Integrating online and offline channels also helps create a cohesive omnichannel experience.”