In the report, the market researcher projects that online retail sales in China, Japan, South Korea, India and Australia are growing rapidly and are set to reach $768 billion in 2017.
This is nearly 17% more than the $658 billion Forrester predicted for the U.S., Canada and Western Europe combined in 2017.
According to analyst Zia Daniell Wigde, China dwarfs in terms of online retail sales, whilst web-only retailers play a larger role in the other countries than in most of the rest of the world.
Mobile phone adoption is high in most of these countries and online marketplaces like those operated by Alibaba and competitor Jingdong in China, Rakuten and Amazon.com in Japan and eBay Gmarket in South Korea, play an outsized role in the region.
“Global brands are paying more attention to online opportunities in the region, and are well represented among the 70,000 brands selling on the large Tmall online marketplace in China,” she says.
However; Wigder says these five markets are quite different and require a distinct strategy for international brands hoping to sell online.
“Brands must understand that marketplaces play different roles in each country, for example, and that mobile adoption rates and usage vary greatly across the region.”
Specific geographic breakdown
China: Online retail sales will grow from $294 billion in 2013 to $672 billion in 2018, a growth rate of 18%, as China surpasses the U.S. as the world’s largest e-retail market.
Japan: While Japan is among the world’s leading luxury markets only 2% of Japanese luxury shoppers say they have bought luxury goods online. Mobile sales are high, and mobile devices are used widely for offline payments in shops and public transit.
South Korea: E-retail sales will grow from $19.3 billion in 2013 to $31.8 billion in 2018, a growth rate just over 10%. Broadband speeds are among the highest in the world, contributing to the high percentage of online consumers who shop via the web.
India: By far the least developed in e-commerce among the major markets, India is growing rapidly. Online retail sales will grow from $2 billion in 2013 to $16 billion in 2018, increasing more than 50% a year.
Australia: Online retail sales will grow 10% a year from $23 billion in 2013 to $38 billion in 2018. Australians buy a lot from foreign online retailers, encouraged both by a relatively small number of domestic players and the fact that the first A$1,000 in purchases made from a foreign retailer enter the country duty-free.