Online Grocery-Delivery Services

For many years people have been buying books, clothing, and housewares online. Why not groceries? The grocery industry in the United States generates more than $600 billion in sales. Nearly everyone shops for groceries and an overwhelming majority shop for groceries at least once a week. Online grocery-shopping services offer the consumer convenience, but many times this convenience comes at a price. Because the consumer is paying someone else to shop for them, in order to pay these employees companies may charge higher prices for the groceries themselves and charge for shipping or delivery. Also, the consumer has to trust that the online grocery-shopping service employees will select the best produce, meat, and other perishable items and deliver them to their door in a timely manner and in good condition.

Despite many of the drawbacks, consumers are spending billions shopping online for groceries. Today’s market size is the total amount consumers in the United States spent online for groceries in 2016, a more than 160% increase in spending over 2015. Also included are projected sales figures for 2025.

Geographic reference: United States
Year: 2016 and 2025
Market size: $42 billion and more than $100 billion respectively
Sources: Trejos, Nancy, “Hotels Find Alternatives to Room Service,” USA TODAY for the Lansing State Journal, August 14, 2017, page 5B; Kestenbaum, Richard, “Why Online Grocers are So Unsuccessful and What Amazon is Doing About It,” Forbes, January 16, 2017 available online here.
Original source: Morgan Stanley
Image source: JoyintheCommonplace, “List-plan-phone-to-do-list-1474674,” Pixabay, June 23, 2016 available online here. Original image has been modified.

International Data Flow

The World Wide Web. A decentralized network of data stored on servers all around the world. But many countries—China, Russia, Germany, and Belgium, to name a few—are enacting laws requiring multinational companies to store and process country-specific data on local servers. According to the source, relaxing such restrictions has become a priority of President Donald Trump’s administration as they negotiate trade agreements, including the upcoming renegotiation of NAFTA.

Proponents of these laws say that having their users’ data stored locally aids in cyber security. Opponents say that storing data on local servers is more expensive, especially for small to medium sized companies. High tech companies worry about having their source codes stolen. Some companies worry that governments or political groups will use the data stored on these servers for illegitimate reasons. And many argue that limiting data flow also limits job growth and innovation. According to Nigel Cory, a trade policy analyst at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, “data needs to flow to create value.”

Today’s market size is the estimated value of data flowing through international borders in 2014, according to a report by the McKinsey Global Institute.

Geographic reference: World
Year: 2014
Market size: $2.8 trillion
Sources: Yu, Roger, “More Firms Push Back on Foreign Data Rule,” USA TODAY for the Lansing State Journal, August 13, 2017, page 4B
Original source: Manyika, James, et. al., Digital Globalization: The New Era of Global Flows, McKinsey Global Insitute, February 2016 available online here.
Image source: Geralt, “Binary-hands-keyboard-tap-enter-2372131,” Pixabay, June 2017 available online here.

Nonstore Retail Sales

Nonstore

We hear a lot today about e-commerce, which may be defined in many ways and has been around for longer than most people think if we include exchanges made at the wholesale trade level as a part of e-commerce. Wholesalers have been using electronic sales for a long time now. But e-commerce is not actually synonymous with nonstore retail. While electronic shopping accounts for a great deal of the total nonstore retail business, nearly 80% in 2013 when combined with mail-order house sales, there are others in this nonstore sector.

The total nonstore retail sector includes, as we’ve seen, electronic shopping and auction websites and mail-order houses. It also includes businesses that do their selling with infomercials on TV, by going door-to-door, through the use of in-home demonstrations, those that sell from portable stalls or food trucks, and those operating vending machines. The graph we present shows annual sales by nonstore retailers other than electronic shopping, auctions, and mail-order houses.

Today’s market size is the total value of sales made in the United States through nonstore retailers in 2000 and in 2013.

Geographic reference: United States
Year: 2000 and 2013
Market size: $180.5 billion and $450.2 billion
Source: “Time Series / Trend Charts,” a new interactive resource made available by the U.S. Census Bureau using its wealth of data collected in a monthly survey series it does of the retail trade sector. The main website for the “Monthly and Annual Retail Trade” data is here and the new Time Series / Trend Chart offering is available online here.
Original source: U.S. Census Bureau
Posted on March 13, 2014

Digital Ad Spending

Measuring the world of advertising is tricky and when it comes to how much is spent on digital advertising, the task becomes harder yet. Part of the difficulty has to do with how one defines the market being measured, as is always the case when dealing with market sizes. But, in the case of an industry that is still forming and evolving, definitions are crucial. Clear definitions of what is being measured are not always provided by those reporting on these markets or those reporting on those reports. So use this market size data as a general guide to a market whose boundaries are a bit… fluid.

Today’s market size post is the size of the market for digital advertising based on two estimates of how much will be spent worldwide on digital advertising in 2013. The range presented is made up of the two estimates, sources for which are also provided. Worth noting is the fact that these estimates place spending on digital advertising at around one-fifth of the spending on all advertising.

Geographic reference: World
Year: 2013
Market size: $95 to $117 billion
Source: John Bussey, “When Google Brainstorms, The Online World Shudders,” Wall Street Journal, September 27, 2013, page B1. Michael Sebastian, “Ad Spending Forecast Revised Downward,” AdAge, August 14, 2013, available online here.
Original source: eMarketer and GroupM
Posted on October 9, 2013

Trade Books

The Association of American Publishers (AAP) tracks the sales of its members. It has had an increasingly difficult task in tracking sales over the last decade or so, as the industry deals with dramatic changes in distribution networks (bookstores), in the product itself (print versus digital) and in the rise of self-publishing. The AAP report on 2012 sales shows a 7.4% improvement in the sale of trade books over 2011. Trade books are defined as those intended for general readership and are sold through a general retail outlet—whether fiction or nonfiction, print or e-book, and/or brick-and-mortar stores or online sales. The total value of trade book sales in 2012 was, however, far short of that reached in 2007, the peak year for sales during the first decade of the new century.

Today’s market size is based on the sale of trade books, published by the large and middle-sized American book publishers—AAP members—in 2007 and 2012.

Geographic reference: United States
Year: 2007 and 2012
Market size: $8.53 billion and $6.53 billion respectively
Source: “Today’s Lunch: Weak December Doesn’t Spoil 2012 Trade Gain of 7.4 Percent,” article in the April 11, 2013, Publishers Lunch newsletter. Access to the newsletter’s website is here. The data on 2007 sales comes from “Association of American Publishers 2009 S1 Report — Estimated Book Publishing Industry Net Sales 2002-2009,” available online here.
Original source: Association of American Publishers
Posted on April 12, 2013

E-Commerce Writ Large

Sector Pie Chart

The announcement this week that two large players in the Internet world have made billion dollar plus acquisitions made us think again about e-commerce. It is a term that is used regularly but one suspects that its meaning is somewhat subjective and based on the user’s own concept of the business. E-commerce can be viewed, as it often is, as electronic shopping. Of course, that might more accurately be called e-shopping or e-retail. Commercial exchange is much bigger than that.

By taking the electronically transacted portions of each of the primarily commercial sectors of the economy, we see (in the pie chart) that e-retail makes up only a small share of the more broadly defined e-commerce. E-wholesale and e-manufacturing account for the lion’s share of the total but they are not new and shiny and so attract far less media attention or investor interest.

Even within the retail sector as a whole, e-commerce accounts for just under 5 percent of the whole. That percentage is, of course, growing, and growing rapidly. It is this fact that must be causing companies like Facebook to spend in excess of $1 billion on a company with a popular photo-sharing app (Instagram). Worth noting is the fact that in some retail sectors, e-commerce does play a far larger role than the 5 percent it represents of the sector at large: electronics and books are two such.

Today’s market size numbers measure the size of the U.S. retail sector in the 4th quarter of 2011, and the size of the e-commerce portion of that total.

Geographic reference: United States
Year: 2011, 4th quarter
Market size: Retail, $1.072 trillion, E-commerce: $51.38 billion (4.8% of total retail)
Source: Quarterly Retail E-Commerce Sales, 4th Quarter 2011, U.S. Census Bureau, available online here.
Original source: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census
Posted on April 11, 2012

E-commerce Sales on Cyber Monday

The estimate of how much is sold on a single day is of limited use to anyone but it is something reported on and tracked by the retail industry. And when that day is either the day after Thanksgiving or, for the online world, the Monday following Thanksgiving, interest in the estimates is particularly high as they are believed to foreshadow the level of retail sales for the rest of that year.

Today’s market size is an estimated range of the total sales generated by e-commerce websites on Monday, November 28, 2011.

Geographic reference: World
Year: Nov. 28, 2011
Market size: $1.17 to $1.2 billion
Source: Claire Cain Miller, “A Shopping Day Invested for the Web Comes Alive,” The New York Times, Nov. 29, 2011, page B1, available online here.
Original source: comScore and IBM Benchmark
Posted on December 8, 2011

Online Poker

Gambling moved onto the Internet as soon as a reliable means of exchanging funds was available on that network. One could call this industry an early adopter of e-commerce. The rules of the game, however, are not always clear and vary from country to country and jurisdiction to jurisdiction which complicates things for a system that spans geographies. Nonetheless, according to those following the market, it is a lucrative one.

Today’s market size is an estimated total number of dollars gambled through online poker sites by Americans in 2010.

Geographic reference: United States
Year: 2010
Market size: $16 billion
Source: Janet Morrissey, “Poker Inc. To Uncle Sam: Shut Up and Deal,” The New York Times, October 9, 2011, page B1, available online here.
Original source: PokerScout.com
Posted on October 18, 2011

Streaming Video

Netflix and Hulu are two services that allow their customers to stream videos. A March 2011 Nielsen survey found that a majority of Netflix users who stream videos watch them on their TVs through gaming consoles, while a majority of Hulu users stream video on their computers.

Data are the number of videos streamed in the United States in May 2011. This was an all-time high.

Geographic reference: United States
Year: May 2011
Market size: 15 billion videos
Source: The Associated Press, “Half of Netflix Use Done on Consoles,” Lansing State Journal, July 31, 2011, page 4E

e-Education—Students Enrolled in Online Courses

Enrollment in online courses

The number of students taking at least some of their classes online has risen steadily throughout the first decade of the 21st Century. In 2003, 11.2% of college and university students took at least one class online. By 2009, 27.4% did. The chart at the right shows the growth in the number of students enrolled in at least one online course in the Fall of each year.

Geographic reference: United States
Year: 2003 and 2009
Market size: Approximately 1.9 million and 5.6 million students respectively

Source: “Entering the Mainstream: The Quality and Extent of Online Education in the United States, 2003 and 2004,” [Abstract], Sloan Consortium, available online here; “Survey Reports: Online Education Grows by Almost a Million Students,” [Abstract], Sloan Consortium, available online here; “Table 176. Total Fall Enrollment in Degree-Granting Institutions, by Level of Enrollment, Sex, Attendance Status, and Type and Control of Institution: 2003,” Digest of Education Statistics: 2005, Spring 2004, available online here; “Table 202. Total Fall Enrollment in Degree-Granting Institutions, by Level of Enrollment, Sex, Attendance Status, and Type and Control of Institution: 2009,” Digest of Education Statistics: 2010, September 2010, available online here.

Graph Source: “Entering the Mainstream: The Quality and Extent of Online Education in the United States, 2003 and 2004,” [Abstract], Sloan Consortium, available online here; “Making the Grade: Online Education in the United States: 2006,” [Abstract], Sloan Consortium, available online here; “Staying the Course — Online Education in the United States, 2008,” [Abstract], Sloan Consortium, available online here; “Survey Reports: Online Education Grows by Almost a Million Students,” [Abstract], Sloan Consortium, available online here.

Digital Publishing Market

UK books

Data show combined digital sales in the United Kingdom, including academic, professional, school, and consumer digital downloads and e-books. Academic and professional digital sales accounted for £84 million. Consumer sales, which includes fiction, non-fiction, and children’s books, were £16 million. Of that £16 million, e-book sales accounted for £13 million. The graph to the right breaks down consumer digital sales by category.

Geographic reference: United Kingdom
Year: 2010
Market size: £120 Million
Source: Philip Jones, “Digital Sales Now Worth 6%, as E-books Grow 300% in 2010,” TheBookseller.com, March 5, 2011 available online.
Original source: Publishers Association

e-Filing in the United States

Individual income tax returns were due for 2010 yesterday. A large number of these tax returns are now filed electronically. In 2010 e-filing accounted for 69.3% of all individual income tax forms filed for the tax year 2009. Today’s market size is the number of those returns filed as of December 31, 2010. The IRS expects this figure to rise for coming tax years. Of the returns filed electronically last year, 35.3% were filed by the filer him or herself and the remaining 64.7% were filed by a professional preparer.

Geographic reference: United States
Year: 2010
Market size: 98,740,000 individual tax returns for tax year 2009
Source: “2010 Filing Season Statistics,” an online report made available online by the
IRS here.
Original source: U.S. Internal Revenue Service

App Store Sales

We hear a lot about “apps” these days, or application programs. But what are they, really. These are computer programs designed as standalone software to run on a variety of devices, usually mobile devices. These apps are sold through online stores and usually have a well defined and somewhat limited purpose. They usually have a filename extension “.app” for use on mobile operating systems such as Android; iOS (Apple); Linux; MeeGo; Microsoft Mobile; RIM (BlackBerry); and Symbian.

Apps are a class of products whose market is based on volume. The average price of an app is around $2.50, (reached with a lot sold for 99¢ and a few sold for $9.00 plus) so a whole lot of apps had to sell in order to reach the market size presented below. There are 5 billion mobile device subscribers worldwide, according the the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). Now, all mobile devices are not “smart” devices and thus are not equipped to run apps. Nonetheless, based on the fact that an estimated 10% of these 5 billion devices are smart we can calculate, very generally, that each one of these smart device owners bought just under two apps in 2010. There seems room for growth here…

As a side note, that figure of 5 billion mobile device subscribers is rather noteworthy given that the world population in 2010 was just shy of 7 billion. Food for thought.

Geographic reference: World
Year: 2010
Market size: $2.15 billion
Source: Whitney, Lance, “Report: Apple Remains King of App Store Market,” CNET News, February 15, 2011, available online here. Also, press release from the ITU which is available online here.
Original source: IHS Screen Digest, February 2011

Online Sale of Computers—Hardware & Software

Selling computers and software online seems pretty natural, after all, the buyer is using a computer to make the purchase. This may explain why the growth rate of online sales of this line of merchandise was not quite as robust between 2003 and 2008 as the growth rate for other lines of merchandise—clothes, sporting goods, food, beer and wine, and appliances to name a few lines, each with an online sales growth rate over 200%. Selling computers online has been underway since the 1990s whereas online sales of other lines of merchandise have only moved onto the Internet in a big way since the early 2000s.

Geographic reference: United States
Year: 2003 and 2008
Market size: Sales: $7.8 and $14.3 billion respectively, an increase of 84%.
Source: “Table 1055. Electronic Shopping and Mail-Order Houses—Total and E-Commerce Sales by Merchandise Line,” Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2011, U.S. Census Bureau, page 663, available online here in a spreadsheet format, and here as a PDF file.
One word of clarification to help prevent any confusion about just what is being presented here. The data in the source table are provided in two columns per year, the first one called “Total,” and the second is “E-Commerce”. The column headed “Total” refers to the total sales for the industry “Electronic Shopping and Mail-order Houses,” [NAICS 4541], and the second column is the e-commerce portion of that industry’s total. Do not confuse the “Total” column for a measure of total sales of the product line listed in that row. It is, rather, the total sales of that product line made electronically and through mail-order houses.
Original source: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census.

By the way, for anyone not familiar with the Statistical Abstract of the United States, a wonderful compilation of a huge variety of important measures of the United States, learn about it here. It is a great place to start with any investigations about the U.S. economy, business climate, people, government, and many more things yet.

Online Sale of Clothes and Shoes

The market size presented here is the total value of clothing and shoes that were sold electronically in 2003 and 2008. It is interesting to see that online sales of clothes and shoes have grown briskly over this five-year period since it was believed that such merchandise would be harder to sell online than other things, things that people would not wish to try on before purchasing. Four Census Bureau product codes are included in this market size calculation, they are 20200 (Men’s wear); 20220 (Women’s wear); 20240 (Children’s clothes), and 20260 (Footwear).

Geographic reference: United States (based on the location of the selling entity)
Year: 2003 and 2008
Market size: Sales: $5.13 and $17.06 billion respectively, representing a 233% increase.
Source: “Table 1055. Electronic Shopping and Mail-Order Houses—Total and E-Commerce Sales by Merchandise Line,” Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2011, U.S. Census Bureau, page 663, available online here in a spreadsheet format, and here as a PDF file.
One word of clarification to help prevent any confusion about just what is being presented here. The data in the source table are provided in two columns per year, the first one called “Total,” and the second is “E-Commerce”. The column headed “Total” refers to the total sales for the industry “Electronic Shopping and Mail-Order Houses,” [NAICS 4541], and the second column is the e-commerce portion of that industry’s total. Do not confuse the “Total” column for a measure of total sales of the product line listed in that row. It is, rather, the total sales of that product line made electronically and through mail-order houses.
Original source: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census.

Online Sale of Furniture

Today we will present the first in a series of market sizes based on the online sale of a particular line of merchandise. The online sale of furniture is our market for today.

Geographic reference: United States
Year: 2003 and 2008
Market size: Sales: $3.1 and $9.8 billion respectively, representing a 217% increase over five years.
Source: “Table 1055. Electronic Shopping and Mail-Order Houses—Total and E-Commerce Sales by Merchandise Line,” Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2011, U.S. Census Bureau, page 663, available online here in a spreadsheet format, and here as a PDF file.
One word of clarification to help prevent any confusion about just what is being presented here. The data in the source table are provided in two columns per year, the first one called “Total,” and the second is “E-Commerce”. The column headed “Total” refers to the total sales for the industry “Electronic Shopping and Mail-Order Houses,” [NAICS 4541], and the second column is the e-commerce portion of that industry’s total. Do not confuse the “Total” column for a measure of total sales of the product line listed in that row. It is, rather, the total sales of that product line made electronically and through mail-order houses.
Original source: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census.

E-Commerce

The title of this post is a bit… well, optimistic. You see, it’s hard to get an accurate read on the size of the e-commerce market. Part of the problem is defining the term. It is a large, nebulous thing, this e-commerce market. It is a growing market that covers a large range of products and its participants vary greatly. Some are “bricks and mortar” stores that also sell online. Others are entities that do business through the Internet exclusively. And the systems needed to track all of this are only being created and fine tuned so it is early days for getting a clear picture of what is actually going on. But, there is plenty going on, that much we do know. What we present here are the data that the Census Bureau has tracked under the industry title “Electronic Shopping and Mail-Order Houses,” [NAICS 45-411].

As we have time, we will try and present a few more detailed slices of this industry and clarify exactly what it does and does not include.

Geographic reference: United States
Year: 1997 and 2007
Market size: Number of Establishments: 10,013 and 21,795 respectively.
Market size: Sales: $69.03 and $215.96 billion respectively. Please note, these figures include e-commerce sales as well as mail-order house sales.
Market size: Employment: 218,406 and 342,138 respectively.
Source: “Sector 44: EC0744I2: Retail Trade: Industry Series: Preliminary Comparative Statistics for the United States (2002 NAICS Basis): 2007 and 2002,” 2007 Economic Census, available online here. The data from 1997 are from the 1997 Economic Census, after conversion of the data to a NAICS 2002 basis.
Original source: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census.