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E-commerce accounted for almost a third (31%) of sales among chain retailers worldwide in 2021, with this share highest in China, South Korea, the United Kingdom and Brazil, according to data from WARC's sister company Edge by Ascential.

More than three-quarters (77%) of chain retail sales in China were online last year, while South Korea had a 44% share. The United Kingdom placed third (32%), followed by Brazil (28%).

Around a quarter of sales were online in Germany (26%) and the United States (24%) last year, with this dropping to 19% in Japan and France. E-commerce took a 12% share in Canada and this drops to 9% in Mexico.

The largest increase between 2019 and 2021 was in Latin America – e-commerce's share in Mexico almost doubled, rising by 80%, while Brazil saw a strong rise of 75%. South Korea (+57%), the UK (+52%) and Canada (+50%) also saw a large increase in e-commerce's share.

Edge by Ascential also expects this growth to continue in 2022, with e-commerce set to account for a third (33%) of all retail sales worldwide.

Additional data show Shopee, Shein, Meesho and Amazon were the most downloaded shopping apps last year.

Store-based retail continues to account for the majority of sales outside of China, though, and additional research shows consumers prefer a mix of online and offline shopping.

As a result of this rising demand, some of the largest retailers are developing their own advertising solutions – WARC Data forecasts e-commerce advertising to be the quickest growing media this year, with spend up by 26.8%.

Brands are also responding to this rapid growth by merging their e-commerce and digital branding teams together, an approach reported by 25% of marketers.