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Asia to Surpass North America in E-commerce: Study

In 2012, e-commerce sales globally grew 21.1 percent to top $1 trillion for the first time, according to the study.

GENEVA — The biggest emerging Asian countries — China, India and Indonesia — are projected to register faster growth in Internet retail sales this year than all other markets worldwide, a report by the research company eMarketer predicts.

In 2012, e-commerce sales globally grew 21.1 percent to top $1 trillion for the first time, and they are forecast to expand 18.3 percent this year to $1.298 trillion, the report said.

EMarketer estimates that the Asia-Pacific region will surpass North America in 2013 to become the world’s top market, with sales expected to increase more than 30 percent to $433 billion, while North America is expected to expand 12.2 percent to $409 billion. Sales in the U.S., the world’s biggest country market for e-commerce spending, are estimated to increase 12 percent to $384.8 billion.

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The study suggests that China, spurred by big gains in digital buyers, up 51.1 million this year to 270.9 million, and in average sales per digital buyer — $670, up $169 — is likely to become the second biggest e-commerce market, with sales jumping 65 percent to $181.6 billion, ranking it ahead of the U.K., with $141.5 billion.

Moreover, eMarketer pro­jects that in 2016 China’s digital buyers will total 423.4 million, and sales per online buyer will average $1,039. Similarly, the report notes, the number of digital buyers in India is to increase 5.4 million this year to 24.6 million and reach 41.8 million by 2016, and it expects sales to average $645 and $724, respectively.

In Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous nation, eMarketer forecasts the number of online consumers to expand 1.5 million this year to 4.6 million, and to nearly double to 8.7 million by 2016, and sales accordingly to average $391 and $516.

Across the planet, digital buyers are foreseen to reach just over 1 billion this year from 903.6 million in 2012, and sales per digital buyer to average $1,318, compared with $1,243 last year.

Mari Pangestu, Indonesia’s minister for tourism and creative economy, told WWD on the sidelines of last month’s World Economic Forum that Internet retail sales are taking off in her country, especially in the capital.

“Jakarta is traffic jammed, right, so to order things, food, clothing, you buy online,” said Pangestu, a U.S.-trained economist, adding that the payment system in Indonesia and other developing countries is hampering faster growth in digital sales.

“In developing countries, a lot of the payment is not done by credit card,” she said. “It’s like you transfer money — I believe there are very few who are using credit cards. It’s part of the problem of not being able to scale-up.”