The changing nature of ecommerce

The pandemic and resulting global recession have caused many businesses to rethink their route to market as ecommerce becomes a standard consumer expectation.

Why the ecommerce growth in 2020 was an international phenomenon

The Centre for Retail Research charts the dramatic boost in online sales resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. The totals of online retail sales are dominated by the UK, Germany and France. These three countries make up over circa 80% of Western Europe’s ecommerce in 2020 (compared to 85.6% in 2018). Britain has the largest online retail sector, and our retail share grew from circa 19% in 2019 to circa 25% in 2020. The CRR predicts this to dip a little in 2021 but rise in 2022 as economic growth produces more consumer spending.

Ecommerce sales have steadily grown

According to an independent study carried out in 2020 by CRR, ecommerce is the fastest growing segment of the retail market in Europe and North America. This is attributed to:

  • The rapid take up of mobile ecommerce: by 2019 mobile accounted for 47% of UK online sales, 45% of German online sales and 40% online sales in The Netherlands.
  • The growth of the ecommerce arms of traditional bricks-and-mortar retailers in competition with pure-play online retailers.
  • The expansion of ‘click and collect’ as an alternative to home delivery.
  • The coronavirus pandemic and its lockdowns has accelerated the rate of growth of online retail, particularly in grocery/food ecommerce.

The Centre for Retail Research has forecast the trends in online retail sales in Europe and the U.S. for more than ten years. It is based on consumer surveys of 5,500 shoppers in each country plus interviews with retail businesses that account for more than 20% of retail sales.

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