A newly released forecast anticipates that retail e-commerce will account for nearly $2 trillion in worldwide sales this year — and will more than double by 2020.
The analysis by market research firm eMarketer projected that e-commerce sales would increase at a rate of 23.7 percent this year and would continue "double-digit growth" to exceed $4 trillion within five years.
In addition, analysts said that e-commerce's share of overall global retail sales would climb from 8.7 percent to 14.6 percent over that span.
"While the pace of growth for overall retail sales is subdued, the digital portion of sales continues to expand rapidly," researchers wrote.
The Asia-Pacific region should remain the world's largest e-commerce market throughout the forecast period. Those nations are expected to see a 31.5 percent sales increase this year as internet access, growing e-commerce competition and improved logistics continue to accompany a rising middle class.
North America will be the world's second-largest market at $423 billion this year and should also see "consistent double-digit growth" as consumers broaden their online shopping habits to include groceries and other new categories.
The findings followed a report from Forrester’s last year that predicted U.S. B2B e-commerce would reach $1.13 trillion by 2020.
eMarketer also predicted that overall global retail sales — including e-commerce, brick-and-mortar stores, the automotive sector and consumer-to-consumer platforms — will increase 6 percent this year to more than $22 trillion.
Although the firm projected slower future growth and lowered its forecast from its December report — a result of low oil prices and negative currency factors — total sales should climb to $27 trillion by 2020.