Starting an ecommerce store and growing it successfully requires doing sufficient market research to understand where opportunities lie.

One key metric all online brand owners need to pay close attention to is ecommerce penetration by category. In other words, understanding which of the following categories generates the highest percentage of online retail revenue: media, toys, office equipment, electronics, sporting goods, or others.

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Ecommerce penetration by category: video games and toys top list

According to recent data, in 2023, media—video games, in particular—tops the list ranking ecommerce penetration by category, with a penetration rate of 78.2%. In other words, more than three out of four video games purchased in the United States are done so over the internet. This marks a 1.6 percentage point increase from the previous year’s 76.6%. Penetration rates of video games have generally been rising and are expected to continue to do so in the coming years. In 2015, their penetration rate was 56.9%. By 2027, this is forecast to hit 82.7%—a 25.8 percentage point increase in 12 years.

The analysis of ecommerce penetration by category also shows that products with the second-highest penetration rates are those related to toys, hobbies, and games. Currently, 58.7% of these products purchased are acquired online—a two percentage point year-over-year increase.

This is followed by office equipment and supplies, with a penetration rate of 54.3%, and electronics, with 53.6%. This means that just over half of all purchases in these two product categories are conducted online.

Fifth on the list comparing ecommerce penetration by category is sporting goods. 43.7% (more than two in five) of products in this category are bought online. This is followed by:

  • Clothing and accessories: 39.4%
  • Furniture and home furnishings: 33.8%
  • Consumables: 23.1%
  • Food and beverage: 10.4%
  • Auto: 5.5%
  • Garden equipment, supplies, and build materials: 4.5%

According to this list analyzing ecommerce penetration by category, all of these categories are set to see ecommerce penetration rates increase between 2015 and 2027. Looking ahead, the data shows that media (video games) and toys, hobbies, and games are the two categories that will continue to top the list every year until 2027. Currently ranked fourth, ecommerce penetration rates of electronics will rise and be joint third with office equipment and supplies by 2027.

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