A new way of e-commerce: How COVID-19 changed how we shop
By Florian Rauchfuss
According to the Digital Economy Index of Adobe, COVID-19 gave e-commerce an extra boost of $183 billion as shoppers flooded into online shopping to meet their daily needs.
At the first anniversary of the start of the pandemic, Adobe presents vital insights into the e-commerce sector by sharing snapshots of its Digital Economy Index. The new report, which used data of over 1 trillion transactions across 100 million SKUs in 18 product categories, discovered that e-commerce got a $183 billion boost due to rising online shopping to fulfill daily needs, accounting for total spending of $844 billion between March 2020 and February 2021.
Furthermore, it revealed a strong positive trend with a 42 percent growth compared to $813 billion spent in 2020.
Adobe expects further growth in the sector with spending in 2021 between $850 billion and $930 billion. That equates to a 20 percent boost in online spending. For 2022, Adobe predicts an ongoing trend with the first trillion-dollar year for e-commerce.
Key facts at a glance
Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) grew by 215 percent YoY in the first two months (January and February) of 2021. Furthermore, customers use the service to place orders that are 18 percent larger. Retailers more often offer BNPL to comfort customers dealing with financial insecurity.
In the same period, consumers have spent $121 billion online, a 34 percent growth from last year. Moreover, home improvement products grew 60 percent. Only apparel was lagging with 22 percent YoY growth. Alone in February 2021, online grocery shopping grew by 230 percent and sporting goods by 75 percent.
July 2020 marked a peak in the “out of stock” messages, with shoppers seeing 3x more stockouts compared to pre-pandemic times. Even in January 2021, the messages were 4x the pre-pandemic level. Products that are most often out of stock are groceries, medical supplies, and pet products.
The northeastern states collectively experienced an 82 percent YoY growth in June 2020. Western states on the other hand saw the most growth in February 2021 with 34 percent.
The growing importance of online shopping made branded shopping days less attractive. Commerce on days like Memorial Day, Labor Day, or President’s Day grew less than on other days in the year.
With COVID-19, online businesses had to find safe ways to deliver to customers. In February 2021, buy-online-pickup-in-store options grew 67 percent YoY.
For the first time in years, digital inflation could be observed in online categories. Prices for electronics were down 2.2 percent from January 2020 to January 2021, compared with Jan 2019 to January 2020 it was down 10.4 percent. Computer prices were down 6 percent YoY compared to 13.5 percent. Groceries were up 4.2 percent YoY, compared to 6 percent, and home & garden prices were up 3.9 percent vs. down 9.3 percent.