For private consumers around the globe the most well-known form of e-commerce falls into the business to consumer (B2C) category, which includes online retail or online shopping. It refers to online purchases from bricks-and-mortar retailers, such as Walmart, as well as from web-only online retailing corporations such as Amazon.com or Rakuten. In 2016, an estimated 1.61 billion people worldwide purchase goods online. In 2016, global e-retail sales amounted to 1.9 trillion U.S. dollars and projections show a growth of up to 4.06 trillion U.S. dollars by 2020. In Asia Pacific, e-retail sales accounted for 12.1 percent of retail sales in 2016 but only for 1.8 percent of retail sales in the Middle East and Africa.
In recent years, mobile shopping has been on the rise, with customers increasingly using their mobile devices for various online shopping activities. According to a March 2016 study regarding mobile shopping penetration worldwide, 46 percent of internet users in the Asia Pacific region and 28 percent of those in North America had purchased products via a mobile device, whether smartphone or tablet computer. As of the fourth quarter of 2016, desktop PCs still accounted for the majority of global e-retail orders but smartphones are the number one device in terms of retail website visits. During a 2017 survey, 11 percent of online shoppers stated that they shopped online via smartphone on a weekly basis.
The average online shopping and purchase intention rates among online shoppers also vary strongly by product category – a total of 53 percent of online shoppers had purchased books or music online in the past 12 months but only five percent of shoppers had bought artwork online. The average number of annual online transactions per capita is also not uniform – Asian shoppers made an average of 22.1 online transactions whereas shoppers in Latin America online made 9.2 e-retail purchases.
Amazon.com is one of the most popular and well-known example of an online shopping platform. Founded in 1995, the Seattle-based site started out as an online bookstore, but soon began expanding its product range towards other retail goods and consumer electronics. As of 2015, Amazon is the worldwide leading e-retailer, as well as the number one web-only retailer globally.