Retail ecommerce growth 2014 to 2020

Ecommerce trends 2021

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I recently bought a t-shirt online. Printed on the shirt is a hilarious mash-up of a cartoon from the 80s (He-Man) and a modern-day meme ("do you even lift?"). The inspiration came from hearing the phrase in a podcast I was listening to and seeing that image show up in the search results from Google:

Google search results for do you even lift


My awesome t-shirt slated to arrive this week

I now have an awesome t-shirt coming in the mail, driven by the casual mention of a phrase in media I consume for entertainment.

Nothing to see here

On some level, there's nothing to see here. People have been buying things online for a long time, but it's all a matter of scale. Back in 2014, e-commerce in the United States was $294B, and Forrester was predicting strong annual growth of 9.5%. Looking back, this seems almost quaint. From 2014 to 2019, retail e-commerce in the USA grew on average over 15% year-over-year — until 2020 when it grew by 30% to 44%, depending on the source:

USa ecommerce retail sales 2014 to 2020

Who's winning?

One of the most shocking – and yet intuitive – aspects of the retail e-commerce story is who is winning. Amazon is running away with over 38% of the total market. That's almost x2 all of the other top 10 e-retailers combined:


On a personal note, I am someone who has fallen into an Amazon buying pattern.  In decking out my new office, I've almost exclusively relied on Amazon and at home, we receive multiple shipments from Amazon every week.

Back to the Cloud

The strategies that successful e-retailers are employing are almost exclusively Cloud enabled. Yes, Amazon has massive fulfillment centers, but the reason we buy from them is that they have made the online purchasing (and return) experience so darn easy. The place I bought my t-shirt, Redbubble, creates their products based on art submitted by users and produces them on an as-needed basis. Honestly, how many people out there would wear a He-Man meme t-shirt? I'd like to think I'm not alone here, but it can't be a huge market. And if He-Man isn't your thing, you could always buy a She-Ra tank top...

She-ra tank top

Companies succeeding in digital today are getting it right by doing three things:

  1. Optimizing for client experience
  2. Capitalizing on a few searches for many things
  3. Leveraging the efficiency & scale of the Cloud

Many, many companies and brands are missing the boat here. Plenty of opportunities exist not only in e-retail, but in monetizing digital products and experiences. In addition to my online good purchases, I've noticed my buying habits have started to include more and more online subscriptions (Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, etc), purely digital goods (audio and digital books), and even recurring donations to creators whose work I enjoy (Patreon, Twitch Subscriptions, etc).

So: do you even Cloud?  If not, drop us a line, and we'll get you started.

Date posted: April 28, 2021

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About the Author

Joaquin Lippincott, CEO

Joaquin is a 20+ year technology veteran helping to lead businesses in the move to the Cloud. He frequently speaks on panels about the future of tech ranging from IoT and Machine Learning to the latest innovation in the entertainment industry.  He has helped to modernize software for industry leaders like Sony, Daimler, Intel, the Golden Globes, Siemens Wind Power, ABC, NBC, DC Comics, Warner Brothers & the Linux Foundation.

As the CEO and Founder of Metal Toad, an AWS Advanced Consulting Partner, his primary job is to "get the right people in the room".  This one responsibility is cross-functional and includes both external business development functions as well as internal delegation and leadership development.

A UCLA alumni, he also serves in the community as a Board Member for the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce, and Stand for Children Oregon - a public education political advocacy group. As an outspoken advocate for entry-level job creation in tech he helped found the non-profit, P4TH, an organization dedicated to increasing the number of entry-level jobs in the tech industry, and is in the process of organizing an Advisory Board for the Bixel Exchange, a Los Angeles non-profit that provides almost 200 tech internships every year.


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