Electronic commerce, aka e-commerce, was introduced more than 50 years ago to share financial or business documents from one company to another. Today, with the spread of the Internet and retail giants such as eBay and Amazon, online shopping is probably what comes to mind for most people when they hear e-commerce mentioned. According to the US Census Bureau, e-commerce retail sales in 2000 were valued at $27.6 billion. By 2016, e-commerce retail sales grew by more than 1,300 percent to over $390 billion.

Census Bureau is one of many agencies now actively tracking e-commerce transactions, particularly in the retail sector. According to the Census Bureau:

  • In 2015, 75 percent of total retail e-commerce sales were from non-store retailers, amounting to $295 billion, a 15 percent increase from the previous year.
  • The same year, consumers spent $58.2 million on clothing and clothing accessories (including footwear), the highest value product category covered by the Census Bureau. Ninety percent of the sales were e-commerce transactions.
  • The books and magazines retail segment, however, had the highest share of electronic sales at 93 percent of all transactions in 2015.


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