The first three months of 2020 were especially notable for ecommerce brands operating in the USA, with McKinsey finding ecommerce penetration accelerated by 10 years between January and March as the pandemic started to creep in. This leap forwards comes despite households tightening their budgets in response to job losses and long term economic fears.

One vital finding here is that brands which have invested in offering an elevated customer experience have profited from this ecommerce penetration the most, leaving others lagging behind.

While the figures aren’t quite as enormous here in the UK, online shopping has continued to eat into bricks-and-mortal sales share, with data indicating that some consumers have not gone back to in-store orders even when lockdowns were lifted.

Official data from the Office of National Statistics calculate online retail had a 33.8% share of total retail sales in May. While it dropped to 27.6% in September with the opening on non-essential stores, it has since climbed once again, to 31.4% at the end of November. While slightly below May’s high, this figure is still above pre-COVID levels.

Globally, it is predicted that online retail will account for 17% of all retail sales in 2021.

Bricks and mortar stores moving to online

Some brands with a physical high street presence have been able to embrace the shift to online, even as their bricks and mortar locations were forced to close. Department store John Lewis grew its online sales from 40% of all sales in 2019 to between 60 and 70% in 2020. M&S reported a 47.5% increase in online for Q4 2020 while Next reported a 36% year-on-year increase for the Christmas period.

Key takeaways

  • Ecommerce is sailing a huge wave of demand, with shoppers moving online at the start of the pandemic changing their buying habits for the long term.
  • Online retail penetration and adopted has moved accelerated several years in the space of just a few months, meaning it’s unlikely that it will recede to pre-COVID levels.
  • Online success isn’t restricted to online only brands. A number of traditional retailers have successfully switched their focus and have grown their online sales to account for a substantial portion of online revenues.
  • Shoppers are also flocking to marketplace sites such as Amazon and eBay and consumers are not afraid to look to overseas retailers for desired products, meaning competition could well come from retailers in other markets as well as rivals closer to home.

The most important takeaway however is this; a strong digital presence, a robust ecommerce platform and a commitment to the online user experience have never been as vital to business success as they are now. Adrac is here to help you take advantage of the many opportunities this new ecommerce revolution presents your business, no matter your degree of ecommerce maturity. Contact us now to speak to one of our search marketing and ecommerce experts.

Author Rebecca

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