Companies in this industry sell products directly to consumers via the Internet, TV, or mail order. Major companies include the US-based Amazon, HSN, J Crew, and Liberty Interactive (parent company of QVC), as well as Shop Direct Home Shopping (based in the UK), Otto Group (Germany), Alibaba Group-owned Taobao (China), and Rakuten (Japan).
Globally, annual e-commerce revenue is about $1.7 trillion and is expected to top $3.5 billion by 2019, according to eMarketer. Growth is driven in large part by rapidly expanding online and mobile user bases in emerging markets, increases in mobile commerce sales, and the push into new international markets by major brands. The Asia/Pacific region is the world's fastest-growing market for online sales. Much of the growth in the region will come from rural consumers making purchases from mobile phones.
The Internet and mail-order retail industry in the US includes about 30,000 companies with combined annual revenue of about $410 billion. Over the past five years, the bulk of the industry's revenue has shifted from catalog to Internet sales. While most brick-and-mortar retailers have an online presence and many also offer catalog sales, this profile focuses on retailers who use the Internet or catalogs as their sole or primary sales channel.
Demand is driven by consumers’ personal income. Profitability of individual companies depends on effective marketing to build a customer base. Larger firms enjoy central purchasing efficiencies and economies of scale in inventory management,...