Ecommerce Europe has just published the results of its new survey on ecommerce trends 2020 during the second lockdown in Europe.
While the 19 national ecommerce associations who contributed to the survey reported positive public perceptions of ecommerce overall during the COVID-19 pandemic, the political perceptions were more nuanced: France, Belgium, Austria and Spain reported an overwhelmingly negative attitude towards the major, dominant ecommerce players.
Italy reported that part of the public has objected to the growth in online retail, favouring support for local brick-and-mortar shops. Similar sentiments were expressed in Denmark.
Other countries reported successful experiences of brick-and-mortar neighbourhood shops moving online in order to continue selling to customers. In France, for example, the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted consumer expectations that local retailers should also offer the option of online shopping with home delivery. These consumer expectations – present since the start of lockdown – clearly indicates shoppers’ interest in omnichannel offerings such as those already offered by leading digital retailers, and now also demanded of local neighbourhood merchants.
Arguably, the most noticeable ecommerce trend in 2020 was delays for parcel delivery operators, with 4 of the EU countries describing these delays as “severe”. Another 5 countries reported that parcel delivery operators were asking consumers to collect their parcels from designated pick-up locations.
It was striking that the delays in parcel delivery during the second lockdown (November, December 2020) were seen as less severe than those during the first one.
It was also reported that in many EU countries the strict lockdown measures led to both a shift in consumer behaviour towards online retail, as well as further growth in demand during the Christmas period. Combined, this led to parcel delivery services needing to establish additional collection points to manage the increased flow of parcels.
The 19 national ecommerce associations contributing to the survey noted differences between demand for products and services during the second COVID-19 pandemic lockdown:
All in all, ecommerce was generally a beneficiary of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the situation is nuanced. Several categories did succeed in increasing revenue, while others suffered a threatening volume of losses.
All the national ecommerce associations reported positive growth in the online sale of goods during 2020. Growth ranged from 5% to 10% in Poland, and 60% to 75% in Finland.
However, the performance for the online sale of services was less positive: 6 ecommerce associations (Norway, Austria, Bulgaria, France, the Netherlands, and Italy) indicated a decline over 2019, with Norway registering a 60% fall in the online sale of services compared to the previous year.
Taken together, most ecommerce associations reported growth in the digital sale of products and services in 2020, estimated at between 44% in Ireland and 4% in the Netherlands. In contrast, compared to 2019, Italy and Norway report a total decline of 20% and 3% respectively, the outcome of the overwhelming fall in online revenue for services.
While the ecommerce sector in Europe registered overall growth in 2020, this trend is not universal, and reflects the varying levels of demand for products and services during the pandemic.
All the participating national ecommerce associations forecast growth in the ecommerce sector in 2021; 11 associations were “very confident” and 8 “fairly confident”. Due to increased public trust and general changes in consumer behaviour, most of the growth in ecommerce will be permanent, rather than a direct consequence of the pandemic.
A few associations are unsure about growth in ecommerce once COVID-19 lockdown measures have been eased. The majority of associations expect significant growth in the online sale of products in 2021, while growth in online sales of services such as travel will depend on a the relaxation and/or removal of the current restrictive measures.
All in all, Europe’s ecommerce associations understand that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the process of digitalization in Europe’s businesses, and this will lead to steady growth in the ecommerce sector, driven equally by both businesses and consumers. In addition, during the pandemic ecommerce has become a lifeline for traditional, brick-and-mortar outlets. Ecommerce has proven to be resilient. It has allowed increased demand from consumers to be met and has secured the delivery of essential goods and services.
You can access the ecommerce trends 2020 survey here. The contributing countries were Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech
Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Ireland,
Netherlands, Portugal, Norway, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
Ecommerce Europe is the sole voice of the European Digital Commerce sector. Via its 23 national associations, Ecommerce Europe represents more than 100,000 companies selling goods and services online to consumers in Europe. Ecommerce Europe acts at European level to help legislators create a better framework for online merchants, so that their sales can grow further.
Walter Trezek is co-chair of the Ecommerce Europe e-logistics Working Group and is the organization’s official representative to the UPU and DG TAXUD and ERGP.
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