US eCommerce Market

Goals

Compile statistical data regarding the eCommerce market size in the U.S. for an investment deck, broken down by metrics that define their respective sizes, sales, and structural setups.
  • Identify the total number of eCommerce businesses in the U.S.
  • Of all eCommerce businesses in the U.S., determine how many operate as a legal entity, as opposed to as a sole proprietorship.
    • Of all eCommerce businesses in the U.S. that operate as a legal entity, determine how many set up as a Single Member LLC (SMLLC).
  • Identify how many eCommerce businesses in the U.S. have at least one employee.
  • Identify how many eCommerce businesses in the U.S. use bookkeepers and/or accountants for preparing their business tax returns or schedule Cs, whether it be on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis.
  • Provide a breakdown of the annual sales of eCommerce businesses in the U.S., preferably within the following segments:
    • Less than or equal to $100,000
    • Between $100,000-$500,000
    • Between $500,000-$1M
    • More than $1M

Early Findings

Data Availability

The initial round of research indicates that data on eCommerce businesses in the U.S. is plentiful. While much of the available data is specific to eCommerce sites, some of the statistical information located is either slightly outdated or more broadly correlated with small businesses as a whole. Triangulation will likely be necessary, although possible, to correlate this data to eCommerce businesses specifically.


US eCommerce Market Size

  • Rough estimates from etailinsights suggests that there are approximately 2.1 million "etailers" or eCommerce businesses in the U.S. Of these, an estimated 1.7 million are considered "eCommerce platforms," or businesses that sell their products and services via their own website and not a third-party marketplace.
  • Another estimate from Pipe Candy suggests that there are approximately 1.82 million eCommerce businesses in North America (US and Canada). Excluding B2B eCommerce sites, there are an estimated 722,000 businesses. This data conflicts with estimates from Shopify, as the platform claims to host eCommerce sites for more than 1 million different merchants.
  • According to Digital Commerce 360, total eCommerce sales in the U.S. were up 44% in 2020 from the previous year, with consumers spending a total of $861.12 billion online.
  • NASDAQ estimates that 95% of all purchases will be made via eCommerce sites by the year 2040.

US eCommerce Legal Structures

  • Most small eCommerce businesses opt to start as a sole proprietorship, as these businesses qualify as non-employers (and thus do not have any paid employees), offer lower taxes, and ensure the owner maintains complete control of all operations. According to Shopify data, nearly 40% of all small business owners in the U.S., of which many are based solely online, own sole proprietorships and use them as their primary source of income.
  • Based on data from the SBA, 73.2% of all small businesses (those with less than 500 employees) in the U.S. are sole proprietorships.

US eCommerce Sales & Revenue

  • Data compiled by Fundera suggests that 99.9% of all businesses in the U.S. — both brick-and-mortar and eCommerce — are small businesses. On average, a small business with no employees brings in an annual revenue of $47,000.
  • Less than 2% of small, non-employer businesses in the U.S. make less than $1 million in annual revenue.

US eCommerce Accounting

  • Of all small businesses in the U.S., 45% do not employ an accountant or bookkeeper. Instead, 25% prefer to use paper for recording finances, while 53% use accounting software solutions.
  • Approximately 25% of all small businesses in the U.S. prefer to only use an accountant, while 4% employ only a bookkeeper.


Summary of Early Findings

  • Within the first hour of research, we were able to locate an array of statistics that estimated the total number of eCommerce businesses in the U.S. Based on the extreme growth rates of this market, additional research efforts to extrapolate this data will be necessary to provide a more accurate and specific value for the total number of U.S.-based eCommerce businesses.
  • Multiple sources indicated that a majority of eCommerce businesses in the U.S. are considered "small" or "non-employers," indicating that they will not have any employees and are likely setup as sole proprietorships. Any business that operates as something other than a sole proprietorship/non-employer has the ability to hire employees. Additional research can more accurately define how many (or what %) of all eCommerce businesses in the U.S. are sole proprietorships (and thus do not have any employees or partners) and how many are not (thus having at least one employee).
  • While we were unable to locate data that specifically defined the number of eCommerce businesses in the U.S. by total sales, we did note that information is available on the total sales of the largest eCommerce sites. Using this data and the number of eCommerce businesses that operate as sole proprietorships, we are confident that we can triangulate an estimate of the number of eCommerce sites by upper and lower sales brackets.
  • We were able to locate rough estimates from Clutch of the number of small businesses in the U.S. that do and do not utilize/employee accountants and bookkeepers. While this data was not specific to eCommerce sites, we are confident that there is additional information available that can be used to triangulate this value.

Research proposal:

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