Is U.S. E-Commerce Plateauing?

June 16, 2016

Is U.S. E-Commerce Plateauing? E-commerce growth in the U.S., the most mature e-commerce market in the world, is slowing, according to a report from Boston Consulting Group (BCG). The BCG report asked U.S. consumers about their expected spending habits and found 78 to 92 percent—depending on product category—predict they will not increase their online spending over the next three years. More than a quarter expect to spend less online over the next three years than they do now. And, demographics had no bearing on the results: millennials, generation x-ers and baby boomers all reported the same intention to moderate or reduce their e-commerce activity.

“Consumers are notoriously unable to predict their spending patterns,” said BCG Senior Partner Michael J. Silverstein, an expert on consumer behavior and retail and packaged-goods innovation. “However, the findings from this research certainly pour cold water on everyone’s expectations for a continuously rising e-commerce world. E-commerce winners will have to earn new dollars and new spending by providing new value. That means me-too players will suffer—and leaders will need to provide more user-friendly websites, lower prices and offers tailored to individual customers.”

The BCG report did not address another area where growth is still happening and new value could be added: cross-border e-commerce. Growth in Western European markets like the U.K. and Germany could potentially mirror what is happening in the U.S., but emerging markets like China could pick up the slack for U.S. businesses willing to look outside their borders.