The survey, titled “COVID-19 and electronic commerce“examined how the coronavirus has changed the way consumers use e-commerce and digital solutions in Germany, Brazil, China, Russia, Italy, South Korea, South Africa, Switzerland and Turkey.
The study by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and three companies related to the cyber field indicates that, after the pandemic, more than half of respondents shop online more frequently and they are turning more to the internet to read the news and learn about digital health and entertainment.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the transition to a more digital world. The changes we make now will have lasting effects as the global economy begins to recover“said the Secretary-General of UNCTAD.
Mukhisa Kituyi stressed that this increase in online shopping underscores the urgency of ensuring that all countries seize the opportunities that digitization offers as the world moves from pandemic response to recovery.
According to the study, consumers in emerging economies are the ones who have been most inclined towards online purchases.
Shopping increases, but consumer spending decreases
The survey shows that online shopping has increased between six and ten percentage points and that the largest gains were in the categories of Information and Communication Technology or electronics, gardening or household products, pharmaceuticals, education, furniture and cosmetics or personal care.
However, despite these positive results, the monthly average of purchases per person has decreased significantly.
According to the analysis, “both emerging and developed economy consumers have postponed higher spending,” with the former “mostly focused on essential products.”
The online sector that suffered the greatest decline was tourism and travel with an average decrease of 75% per person.
Robot portrait of consumer on internet
The largest increase in online shopping was in China and Turkey and the weakest in Switzerland and Germany, where more people were previously engaged in e-commerce.
By population sectors, the greatest increase in internet sales was carried out by women and people with higher education; while, by age, the purchases of consumers between 25 and 44 years old exceeded those of young people.
Among retailers, Chinese companies were the best equipped to sell their products online, while South African companies were the lowest.
“Companies that place electronic commerce at the core of their business strategies are prepared for the post COVID-19 era“said Yomi Kastro, founder and CEO of the firm Inveon.
The president of the Swiss NetComm E-Commerce Association, Carlo Terreni, shared this view, noting that the huge growth in e-commerce “will alter the national and international frameworks for retail.”
Terreni stressed that therefore, “policy makers should adopt specific measures to promote the implementation of electronic commerce among small and medium-sized enterprises (…) and attract international investors in the field of electronic commerce.”
Great rise of digital companies
Although the most used communication platforms have been WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger, all of them owned by Facebook, video calls through Zoom and Microsoft Teams are those that register the greatest increase in the workplace.
In China, the main communication platforms are WeChat, DingTalk and Tencent Conference.