According to a survey “COVID-19 and e-commerce” conducted by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed online shopping behaviours. According to the UNCTAD, the survey was conducted among 3,700 consumers in nine emerging and developed economies of Brazil, China, Germany, Italy, the Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, South Africa, Switzerland and Turkey.
Following the pandemic, more than half of the survey’s respondents now shop online more frequently and rely on the internet more for news, health-related information and digital entertainment.
Consumers in emerging economies have made the greatest shift to online shopping, the survey shows.
The survey conducted by UNCTAD and Netcomm Suisse eCommerce Association, in collaboration with the Brazilian Network Information Center (NIC.br) and Inveon, shows that online purchases have increased by 6 to 10 percentage points across most product categories.
The biggest gainers are ICT/electronics, gardening/do-it-yourself, pharmaceuticals, education, furniture/household products and cosmetics/personal care categories.
However, the survey revealed that average online monthly expenditure per person has dropped significantly. Consumers in both emerging and developed economies have postponed larger expenditures, while spending on tourism and travel has declined by a staggering 75 per cent.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the shift towards a more digital world. The changes we make now will have lasting effects as the world economy begins to recover,” said UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi.
He said the acceleration of online shopping globally underscores the urgency of ensuring all countries can seize the opportunities offered by digitalization as the world moves from pandemic response to recovery.
Carlo Terreni, President of NetComm Suisse eCommerce Association, added that the unparalleled growth of e-commerce will disrupt national and international retail frameworks.
“This is why policymakers should adopt concrete measures to facilitate e-commerce adoption among small and medium enterprises, create specialized talent pools and attract international e-commerce investors”, he said.