There are many studies on the sudden growth of e-commerce during the pandemic. They may differ in their numbers based on how they calculate their data, but they show a single trend. Online retail surged up fast since Covid-19 arrived, and consumer behavior shows that they will not stop their online buying habits. It is now a permanent part of people’s lifestyles.
The Acceleration of Online Retail
According to the Adobe Digital Economy Index, as reported by Forbes, the predicted global e-commerce sales for 2021 is $4.2 trillion. In the first quarter of the year alone, worldwide e-commerce sales already reached $876 billion, an increase of 38 percent year-over-year. The report concludes that there will be no slowdown in the growth of e-commerce.
It found that a growing number of consumers in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Japan prefer to shop for groceries online. More than half of the respondents from the three countries stated that online grocery shopping saves them money.
The Global E-commerce Forecast 2021 of eMarketer has even more optimistic numbers. It shows the global retail e-commerce sales in 2020 to be $4.213 trillion, an increase of 25.7 percent from 2019. The forecast expects worldwide retail e-commerce sales to increase by 16.8 percent in 2021, to reach $4.921 trillion.
The regional leaders in retail eCommerce sales in 2020 were Asia-Pacific and North America. The Forecast sees them continuing to lead this year, with Asia-Pacific accounting for 60.8 percent of worldwide retail eCommerce sales because of China’s high activity. North America will account for 20.3 percent of sales, while Western Europe will account for 12.6 percent. India, Brazil, Russia, and Argentina will show 26 percent or more in retail eCommerce sales growth this year, catching up with the trend.
How Online Retail Goods are Delivered
Inextricably linked to the growth of e-commerce is the growth of door-to-door delivery services. Business Wire published the study of ResearchandMarkets.com on the global courier, express, and parcel (CEP) market. It showed that there is strong market growth, especially in Eastern Europe and the industrialized countries. The main driver of growth in parcel delivery volumes is online retail. About 40 percent of the global market is dominated by the Asia Pacific regional parcel market. A little over 50 percent is from North America and Europe combined.
How Consumers Are Behaving Online
The PwC’s Global Consumer Insights Pulse Survey for June 2021 covered 22 countries, including the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Russia, South Africa, the Middle East, Brazil, Mexico, Australia, China, Hong Kong SAR, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Indonesia. In March 2021, the study surveyed 8,681 respondents aged 18 and older who had shopped online at least once in the last year. The study’s main takeaway is that the online shopping trend that the pandemic accelerated is here to stay. The study provides a deep dive into consumer behavior.
Between the PwC’s surveys in October 2020 and March 2021, more than half of respondents stated that they became more digital, more price-oriented, and more focused on saving. Indeed, between March 2021 to June 2021, the frequency of shopping through mobile channels increased from 33 percent to 39 percent. In the same period, the frequency of shopping through the PC increased from 26 percent to 30 percent. For tablets, the frequency increased from 18 percent to 22 percent.
Among all respondents, 56 percent stated that they had become more price-oriented. The numbers were highest in Mexico at 74 percent, South Africa at 73 percent, the Philippines at 72 percent, Indonesia at 71 percent, and Russia at 70 percent.
Among all respondents, 54 percent stated that they had become more focused on saving. This was highest in the United Arab Emirates and Malaysia at 72 percent, the Philippines at 71 percent, South Africa at 70 percent, and Thailand at 69 percent.
There was, however, an increase in the number of respondents who purchased at least one item online every day, from 19 percent in March 2021 to 23 percent in June 2021. The highest numbers were from Thailand, Indonesia, and the United Arab Emirates.
Consumers were consistent from March to June in their preference for fast and reliable delivery, followed by in-stock availability of items they want. In March, their third preference was for easy website navigation to quickly find products they want. In June, this was replaced by the preference for a good return policy.
For a brand to earn their loyalty, 46 percent of consumers valued reliability, 31 percent valued wide availability of products, 26 percent valued exceptional customer service and loyalty programs, 24 percent valued ethical practices, and 20 percent valued having an enjoyable experience. In the lower half, 19 percent valued sustainable practices, 18 percent valued exclusivity, 17 percent valued personalization, 15 percent valued a commitment to give back to society, 14 percent valued engaging content, and 12 percent valued a seamless digital experience.
Online retailers can rejoice because they will continue to have a consumer base for years to come. They must be responsive, however, to what consumers value most to get their loyalty.