The acceleration of ecommerce throughout the globe over the course of 2020 was hard to ignore, as consumers shopped online often out of necessity, and brands were forced to rapidly change their strategies as a result.

US shopping app downloads slowed to a 4% year-on-year growth in Q3 2020, following a spike in Q2, according to Sensor Tower’s Mobile Retail Trends Analysis, published in Q4.
Citizens Advice has said views of its webpage providing advice on parcel issues had more than doubled to 208,000 between March and October this year compared to just 94,000 over the same period last year.
After unprecedented uptake of online shopping out of necessity, local and national lockdowns throughout November and December (traditionally the busiest shopping period of the year) helped to boost the overall yearly figure to even loftier heights. Online retail sales in December remained slightly higher than the year average at +37%, while Black Friday events caused November to take the crown for peak performance at +39%.
Drilling down further, there are also differences in the importance of visual reviews according to different age categories. While customer photography and video on apparel products beat other top categories for 18-24 year-olds, these kinds of reviews were most important for 65-74 year-olds on technology and electronics products.

Ecommerce penetration

UK online sales growth hits 13-year high at +36.6% year-on-year for 2020

Ecommerce Quarterly: Q4 2020
During the period, total sales amounted to £660.8 million, £357.2 million of which came from UK consumers. While US sales were lower at £167.7 million (equivalent to US9 million) over these four months, revenue growth in the region soared even higher at +52% year-on-year.
The rate of ecommerce penetration in the US grew by 10 years in a 90-day period in 2020, reaching around 33%, according to data from McKinsey.
What’s behind the success of China’s social commerce app Pinduoduo?

Cross-border ecommerce sales grew by 82% year-on-year in 2020

It wasn’t just sales that saw a huge boost for In The Style over the 2020 holiday season. The number of first-time customers increased by 45%, while a 50% improvement in conversion rate was also recorded and order volumes grew by 95%.
In early February, Alibaba posted its financial results from Q4 2020, which revealed a 37% year-on-year rise in revenue to RMB221.1 billion (or US.9 billion).
Interestingly, there was also a 30% uplift in the number of product recommendations shown, indicating that retailers have put in place additional measures to ensure a personalised experience for visitors and a greater chance of conversion and/or upselling.
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US ecommerce penetration accelerated by 10 years in 90 days in Q1 2020

When asked what strategies they would employ to avoid future overstock, 61% of fashion retailers said they were planning to reduce the number of SKUs in their inventories. A further 60% hope to improve analytics for consumer insights so that they can better predict demand, while 55% said they would implement a more agile supply chain.
In its press release, the ecommerce giant said that more than 470 brands using Alibaba made 100 million yuan in gross merchandise value (GMV) as a result of the shopping festival. The platform also claimed it had processed 583,000 purchases per second during the peak of activity across the campaign. Of the quarter of a million brands that participated, 31,000 originated from outside of the Chinese market. 2,600 of these were joining the event for the first time.
ASOS UK sales have risen by 18% year-on-year to £1.18bn, according to the brand’s full year financial statement ending August 31st 2020. International retail markets, which include the European, US and ROW regions, performed even higher at +20% during the same period.
Sales analysis shows international online shopping slowed quite dramatically in March 2020 before picking up at speed again in April and remaining high throughout the rest of the year. In April alone, cross-border sales exceeded 100% year-on-year growth before peaking at +141% in July.

Internet Statistics Compendium: Ecommerce

Online as a share of total retail in the UK reached 33.8% at its peak in 2020

As retail begins its slow recovery on a global scale, the cross-border luxury market appears to be faring well following sales performance in July 2020 that was 40% above those seen in the lead up to Christmas 2019 (a period which is usually the strongest in the calendar alongside new year discounts).
Technology and electronics and health and beauty were ranked joint second, with 30% claiming photographic reviews were influential to them, followed by home and hardware (28%). Interestingly, German respondents were most likely to buy technology and electronics if they had accompanying visual reviews (44%). In contrast, 29% of consumers in France preferred visual UGC for apparel products, but just 17% of those in the UK agreed.
The company jumped 16 places in the Top 75 list for 2020, following a 63.3% growth in brand value change since 2019, settling at number 18. Its online-only formula, unlike other brands in the sector which also have brick-and-mortar stores, places it in an excellent position for growth through digital innovation. According to the report, demand for its services during the peak of the pandemic was at 10 times it usual level for the time of year.
Unilever’s Global VP of Ecommerce: “the channel shift is here to stay”

Global retail ecommerce predicted to total $3.9 trillion in 2020

Sales at the aforementioned brand, which now resells many other products outside of old music, rose 22% over the course of last year to around £120 million. Sales of second-hand books via the site grew by a massive 75% in this period, while products like preowned smartphones and games consoles saw sales increase by one-fifth.
Boohoo’s sales grew by 40% year-on-year in the four months to December 31st 2020, the company has announced in a press release. This follows and includes sales from the Group’s successful relaunch of Oasis and Warehouse as online-only brands after it acquired them earlier in 2020.
Luxury has been one of the most hard-hit sectors of the industry as consumers rein in their spending and focus on essential items throughout the pandemic. The closure of physical stores, as well as shoppers’ reluctance to splash out and other unpredictable online behaviours has caused experts to predict drops of 40-60% in experiential luxury and 25%-45% in personal luxury sales year-on-year.
With Amazon’s sales expected to rise further as the year draws to a close, these strong growth figures are in line with an accelerated trend in one-stop-shop online marketplace shopping amid the coronavirus pandemic.
As a result, nearly one in four have lost confidence when ordering goods from online stores – something that could have a larger impact as people begin their Christmas shopping.

Next says it predicts full-price product sales to decline by 14% over January in the midst of another national lockdown. However, it has adjusted its forecast pre-tax profit from £365 million (estimated in October) to £370 million for the full year.


Online share of UK grocery shopping reaches record 14% in January

Ecommerce penetration is still quite low for luxury fashion and lifestyle in China– it’s predicted to grow from 5% in 2019 to 7% in 2020 – whereas penetration in luxury beauty far outstrips any other category (expected growth 28% in 2019 to 38% in 2020).
This success follows innovative action taken by the company to extend its offering to consumers. In August, Pinduoduo launched its grocery delivery service Duo Duo Maicai to meet growing demand amidst the fallout from the pandemic.
Sixty-one percent of respondents cited free delivery as a key purchase driver, followed by availability (57%) and price (53%), while the most sought-after change to consumers’ online shopping experience was free returns.

Tesco’s online delivery capacity doubles in H1 2020 to meet online demand

However, sales of products such as suitcases, high heels and clutches and ‘party handbags’ all saw dramatic declines of 69%, 62% and 56% respectively thanks to customers’ dramatic lifestyle changes brought on by the pandemic.
Looking ahead to Q4, sales are expected to reach between 2-121 billion, or to grow between 28-38% year-on-year, as customers opt to do much of their holiday shopping online.
The Grocer reports Nielsen figures, published in January, which indicate the online share of UK grocery sales doubled in December 2020 to 12.5%, making last December the biggest on record for the sector.

Online share of UK grocery sales doubled in December 2020

Customer Retention Best Practice Guide
Some of the most popular items bought by John Lewis customers over the last 12 months included beauty tech (such as electronic facial devices) – up 178% – chess sets (up 121%) and nostalgic toys, like Scalextric kits (up 100%).
Chinese ecommerce platform Pinduoduo increased its monthly active users (MAUs) by 74.6 million in Q3 2020 compared to the previous quarter, to a total of 643.4 million. Its number of annual active buyers also rose by 36% to 731.3 million compared to the same period in 2019. At just five years old, this makes Pinduoduo the fastest ecommerce company to have surpassed 700 million active buyers.
After shops reopened, online as a share of total retail dipped only slightly before growing again
Total online sales growth in the UK rose by 36.6% year-on-year in 2020 – the largest growth seen since 2007, according to data from the IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index.

Ocado named 2020’s fastest-growing UK brand

The accelerated adoption of retail ecommerce across the world has put some regions ahead of others in terms of expected growth by the end of 2021. China, ever the leader in this area, could see online retail amount to 27.3% of its total retail sales, followed by the UK (19.9%) and the US (16.2%).
Amazon’s GMV – Gross Merchandise Volume – is thought to have increased by 42% year-on-year in 2020, with its marketplace arm accounting for 62% of its total global GMV (although this equates to just a 2% increase in total share since last year).
MusicMagpie’s sales figures follow the same trend as similar sites such as eBay which saw a 30% growth in revenue between March and June last year alone. Meanwhile, Depop, a site for selling pre-loved fashion, has grown its user base to 18 million since the end of 2019 and ‘experienced record sales’ in the summer, according to the Guardian’s report.
Latin America saw the largest shift in online grocery shopping adoption throughout this time. The percentage of those who are mainly responsible for grocery shopping in their households that had ordered groceries in the last month started at just 22% in Q1 and grew to 29% by the end of Q2 – a 31% uplift. This was followed by North America, which saw a 23% positive change.

Suburban and rural consumers drove the bulk of online grocery shopping growth during the spring 2020 peak of the pandemic

Taking its place amongst the winners of the pandemic – which include brands like Walmart, Etsy and Target – Amazon is also predicted to have sold 0 billion worth of products (worldwide) in first-party sales (Amazon Retail), up from 5 billion in 2019 and 7 billion in 2018.
Across online and offline channels, shoppers spent £1 billion more with supermarket brands than they did during the same period last year, with a 23% rise in vegan products purchased as families took part in Veganuary.
Tesco’s 2020/21 interim results reveal online delivery capacity doubled to 1.5 million weekly slots as a result of heightened demand at the peak of the coronavirus outbreak in the UK. It also stated that it had served 674,000 vulnerable or shielding customers in the 26 weeks to 29 August 2020.
A report from Wunderman Thompson Commerce has revealed that Amazon’s share of the UK ecommerce market rose to 35% during the first lockdown, up from 30% at the end of 2019, highlighting the retailer as one that has benefitted most from the pandemic.
The statement also revealed that the company has seen a 3.1 million rise in its active customer base, which now totals 23.4 million across the world, reflecting increased brand engagement spurred on by the pandemic.

Tesco’s new Chief Executive, Ken Murphy said in a statement, “The first half of this year has tested our business in ways we had never imagined, and our colleagues have risen brilliantly to every challenge, acting in the best interests of our customers and local communities throughout.”

Black Friday & Singles Day 2020

Third party sellers on Amazon saw a 60% growth year-on-year in Black Friday weekend sales

The week commencing 6th December saw the consumers purchase the most via Next’s online channels, reaching nearly £80 million in total value, before dropping off slightly the week after, suggesting that much of the public opted to get their Christmas shopping done earlier than usual (as predicted).
Rival made 271 billion yuan (US .9 billion) in sales throughout the holiday, while major omnichannel retailer exceeded 5 billion yuan (US $­756 million) in omnichannel GMV across its ecommerce platform, Tmall shop, and livestreaming outlets 19 minutes after midnight on November 11th, the South China Morning Post reported.
Lidl experienced the greatest year-on-year growth for the 12 weeks to Boxing Day at a staggering 20.9%. This was followed by Morrisons, which saw 9.2% growth, while Tesco and Sainsbury’s saw increases of 8.6% and 8.1% respectively.
Organisations that have invested in superior customer experiences, following the shock of the coronavirus outbreak, have emerged stronger than they did before it began. It is thought that these brands have seen triple cumulative shareholder returns against other companies, according to analysis.
Ecommerce Best Practice Guide

UK retailers see a 23% increase in online store sales on Black Friday, YoY

Ebay’s Q3 2020 financial statement has revealed that its revenue rose 25% to .61 billion compared to the same period in 2019, beating expert estimates of .48 billion. In the quarter ending 30th September, the marketplace also reported that its number of annual active buyers increased by 5% to total 183 million globally.
Across the Apple App Store and Google Play, shopping app downloads in the region surpassed 150 million. The ranking of most downloaded apps remained mostly unchanged throughout Q1-Q3 in 2020, with Amazon, Wish and Walmart remaining in the top three, in that order, as they did last year. However, three new retail apps entered among the remaining seven spots, mirroring their successes in the US market this year – Shop (by Shopify) rocketed to fourth place overall, while fashion retailer SHEIN ranked number seven and Nike crept in at number 10.
The most popular items sold included the series of Harry Potter books, Michael Bublé CDs, PlayStation 4 consoles and old versions of the iPhone.
These figures are despite of last-minute restrictions placed on holiday gatherings in large areas of the UK. This appeared to have caused some consumers to hold back on their spending over the last two weeks leading up to Christmas, buying less traditionally festive foods such as steak, which saw sales up 57% during that fortnight, perhaps as a last-ditch alternative to Christmas dinner. Meanwhile, sales of confectionary rose just 2%, reflecting fewer occasions for socialising and gifting this year than in previous years.

Self-care, toys and pets were among the biggest trending categories in the region as people began searching for gifts earlier than usual. Skincare, pyjamas and LEGO kits also shared the spotlight with consumers preparing for more time indoors in the lead up to Christmas. The company also reported more customers signing up for its Amazon Pharmacy service as a convenient way of receiving their prescriptions.

Alibaba’s Singles Day sales event breaks records

A survey of over 22,000 consumers from 11 different countries found that 52% claimed to have made six or more cross-border purchases online since the beginning of 2020. Respondents cited lower cost (such as taxes and shipping) and better availability of products than in their home region as key purchase drivers.
A portion of its success can be attributed to its record 11.11 Singles Day sales, expanded last year to continue for 11 consecutive days, which created RMB498.2 billion in sales (US.1 billion) – an increase of 26% on the same event in 2019. Alibaba also claimed over 470 of its brand sellers made RMB100 million or more during the holiday.
November 11th 2020 saw Alibaba pull in record sales during one of the largest retail events in China – Singles Day. Purchases made in the 11-day campaign period covering the unofficial holiday topped billion, a new high for the company and a 26% increase on 2019’s event.
Online sales for the UK fashion and department store Next were up by 36% year-on-year over the nine weeks to 26th December 2020, it announced in January. As a result, total full-price sales were just 1.1% down on the same period in 2019, as online sales compensated for profit lost from closed brick-and-mortar stores.
Despite this gloomy outlook, the late summer growth figures indicate that brands are altering their marketing strategies to prioritise digital, thereby bringing luxury online experiences to those outside of their usual domestic markets. CEO of eShopWorld, Tommy Kelly, explained, “In the current climate, there is incredible opportunity for luxury beyond the traditional channels and markets, particularly as older shoppers have become more comfortable with online, while digital natives are, of course, already there.”

Amazon and other marketplaces

Amazon sales grew 38% in 2020 to $386.1 billion

This news comes despite issues with the retailer’s supply chain when Covid-19 first hit, as well as huge volatility in sales across the fashion sector throughout the spring when lockdowns were enforced on much of the Western world. The brand also said it continues to remain cautious about the financial impact the crisis is having on its core 20-something customer base, which could affect sales and basket sizes over the festive period and in the longer term.
As a result, it is important that marketers understand the types of demographics  browsing their online stores to ensure the most useful reviews appear prominently on each product page, thereby increasing the likelihood of purchase.
In Q4 2020, usually the most lucrative time of year for Amazon, the company’s sales increased by 44% year-on-year to 5.6 billion, marking its first ever 0 billion quarter. This was no doubt aided by fresh stay-at-home restrictions across the globe as a second wave of the coronavirus began taking its toll. In the same quarter, 175,000 full-time and part-time employees were hired by the marketplace giant to help keep up with demand, compared with just 50,000 hired in Q4 2019.
It claims that the 2020 holiday season was ‘the best ever for independent businesses selling on Amazon’, with worldwide sales averaging 50% higher year-on-year and exceeding .8 billion in sales alone over the Black Friday Cyber Monday weekend. US small and medium-sized businesses sold close to one billion products via the marketplace in the last quarter.
Online channels accounted for 60-70% of John Lewis sales over the course of 2020, up from 40% before the pandemic, according to details from the retailer’s report Shop Live Look 2020.

Alibaba posts 37% rise in revenue for Q4 2020, with its cloud computing services growing 50%

The retailer says it now expects revenue for the financial year ending 28th February to be 36-38% up year-on-year, a figure significantly higher than its previous estimates of 28-32% growth. However, the company believes Brexit may cause some ‘cost headwind, predominantly from higher distribution and administrative costs’, which could have minor impact on business performance as the year continues.
Meanwhile, SMEs based in the US have seen an average of 9,500 products sold via Amazon every minute since October. Record sales levels have enabled independent businesses using the platform to create an estimated 2.2 million new jobs around the globe.
Retired households increased their online grocery spend by 229% between January 2020 and January 2021, the findings suggest, proving that older generations are becoming more comfortable with using supermarkets’ online booking and delivery. They now account for 28% of the 6.4 million customers using these services so far in January. Meanwhile, parents have increased their grocery spend by £50 a month year-on-year, thanks to ongoing school closures and home working.
The pandemic’s impact on the fashion industry, particularly in store, has led to significant amount of left over stock and periods of heavy discounting by retailers as they try to shift it, greatly affecting overall revenue. A December 2020 report from Business of Fashion and McKinsey observes the ways fashion retailers are making fundamental changes to their strategies going into 2021 to resolve the issues that have been brought to light more plainly than ever before.
Unsurprisingly, instore visits fell 10%, amid concerns for safety during the second wave of the coronavirus, but consumers spent on average £20 more than usual across both online and offline settings.

UK online reselling jumped in 2020, according to data from top second-hand sites

The data reveals mobile and desktop browsing of the brand’s website increased by 55% year-on-year, while tablet traffic declined by a whopping 41%, reflecting wider trends in device popularity across the retail industry.
Amazon: Lessons and Success Stories
Childrenswear, loungewear, sportswear and home were the top performing online categories over the festive period, while workwear and occasionwear were, naturally, the least popular among Next customers. The company also reported returns rates were much lower than usual at 21% compared to 35% during the same nine weeks of 2019.
Black Friday promotions saw third-party sellers grow their sales by 60% year-on-year, surpassing .8 billion worldwide. Amazon also claimed that more than 71,000 small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) selling through the marketplace had made more than 0,000 during the holiday season at the time of publication.
Aside from its retail achievements, Alibaba’s cloud computing business saw a huge 50% year-on-year boost in Q4 2020, making these services profitable for the company for the first time.

35% of all UK online purchases during first UK lockdown were made via Amazon

Customer reviews containing visuals of the product in question have a big impact on whether or not other shoppers will buy that item. Thirty-six percent of over 8,000 global consumers stated that photographic UGC was influential on their purchase decision in the apparel sector – more so than video content, which came in at 33%.
Digital tools came into their own during the Singles Day event this year. According to Alibaba’s data, its AI customer chatbot dealt with 2.1 billion questions, and more than 30 livestreaming channels on Taobao Live (Alibaba Group’s livestreaming tool) made over 100 million yuan in GMV.
Vodafone came out on top in the top 75 most valuable brands list, followed by HSBC, Shell, BP and BT, despite all of these brands measuring double-digit declines in brand value since 2019. In fact, just 10 brands out of all 75 experienced growth overall, highlighting the massive impact Covid-19 has had on the majority of verticals. The rest saw declines or flat growth or were new to the list in 2020.

Amazon marketplace sellers thought to have sold an additional $95 billion worth of products in 2020

See how the U.S. has leapt 10 years forward in 90 days’ time from physical channels to e-commerce. Also, how the acceleration in digital transformation by companies is widening the gap between leaders & laggards and more.
Increased normalisation of online shopping, which became more of a habit for many consumers this year, is not the only factor. Brands’ greater focus on omnichannel experiences, including services like click and collect, as well as better demand prediction, will ensure retailers make the most of the recovery from Covid-19. Improvements in product discovery and branding are also expected to be high up on the list of priorities next year.
This comes as Jeff Bezos announces his stepping down from the role of Amazon CEO, instead taking a position as Executive Chairman. The company has confirmed that its current AWS lead, Andy Jassy, will replace Bezos as CEO sometime in the second half of this year.
Amazon says it expects revenue to reach between 0-6 billion in Q1 2021, an unsurprising deceleration from the previous quarter where events like Black Friday and Christmas drove the bulk of consumer spending, but still up to 40% higher than in the same period of 2020.

The Guardian reports online reselling in the UK saw a substantial boost in sales and traffic throughout 2020, according to information collated by top second-hand sites like MusicMagpie.

Amazon sales up 37% year-on-year in Q3 2020

Overall, global online consumer behaviour changed quite significantly over the Black Friday Cyber Monday weekend. In 2020, there was a 24% increase in the number of pages viewed and a 20% increase in the time spent on any one page. Meanwhile, bounce rate dropped by 2%, suggesting that shoppers, more than ever, are making more purposeful and considered purchases during the event.
Much of this growth has been spurred on by younger consumers in the Millennial and Gen Z cohorts, who are much more likely to use the internet to research and purchase luxury goods than their more mature counterparts. Gen Z is the only generation to cite online sources for all three of their top three favourite places to research luxury fashion. China’s annual luxury online penetration increased by a total 10 percentage points between 2019 and 2020 alone to 23%, driven by these changes in shopping habits.
Bain believes online luxury retail has changed permanently since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, with most brands predicting online penetration of the sector in China to reach anywhere between 20%-25% within the next three years.
Ebay expects its Q4 2020 earnings to reach up to .71 billion, boosted by holiday purchases and has raised its full-year sales outlook to the region of .04 to .11 billion. This equates to a 19-20% total revenue growth across 2020, where original forecasts predicted a 14-16% growth.

Ebay’s Q3 revenue rises 25% year-on-year in 2020

Globally, pet supplies and home and garden came out on top compared to other verticals, seeing a 60% and 52% increase in online sales respectively. The majority of the remaining categories analysed saw growth compared to last year’s Black Friday results, except for fashion and accessories, which experienced a 4% decline despite a 7% uplift in traffic. This category also saw a 5% decrease in conversion rate and a 3% drop in average order value.
One fifth of the 2000 UK consumers surveyed claimed that their intention to purchase from Amazon after the coronavirus outbreak ends had increased, even though a similar number (21%) said that they were concerned about the company’s growing dominance in the industry.
Throughout the year, almost every retail subcategory, with the exception of pharma, experienced a significant dip in online sales lasting from March to June as the first lockdown restrictions were enforced. Some made better recoveries than others as they approached the autumn, with electronics, music and video, furniture and toys and sports equipment faring the best out of the bunch.

Fashion and department stores

Boohoo sales up 40% in four months to December 31st

Data from GroupM, released in December, predicts global retail ecommerce, including automotive but excluding food and delivery services, will total .9 trillion by the end of 2020 – equating to 17% of all retail sales. In China, these online sales will rise to 25% of the entire retail market in the region.
In fact, supermarkets saw record December sales across all channels, with total sales growing 8.4% in the four weeks ending Boxing Day. Overall, customers spent £12 billion during this period, of which some £1.3 billion went through online channels. Further data shows that 8.5 million UK households, equating to a little over 30% of total households, shopped online for groceries over the festive season – 5.7 million more than in the same month of 2019.
Thanks to its success last year, where many other fashion retailers have struggled, Boohoo Group has also recently bought the brand and website of former high street giant Debenhams, as well as Dorothy Perkins, Wallis and Burton. Notably, these brands have little in the way of an overlapping demographic with its core brands Boohoo, PrettyLittleThing and Nasty Gal, demonstrating the Group’s strategic ambition to widen its appeal to slightly older consumers.
Combined with other methods such as moving to a seasonless assortment and reducing the number of collections they produce, these retailers hope to make their business operations more cost effective and environmentally friendly moving forward.

Up to 70% of John Lewis sales came from its online channels in 2020

With Black Friday just around the corner, the significant growth in purchase activity during China’s biggest shopping event of the year could indicate what is to come for online retailers this festive season, particularly for those with outstanding digital capability.
Online shopping has been gaining a greater share of retail sales for a number of years, but the impact of #COVID19 saw it rise sharply as many shops closed.
— McKinsey & Company (@McKinsey) November 9, 2020
The result of this acceleration, brought about by rapid digital transformation, has caused the gap in corporate profits between the best and worst performing brands to widen further than ever before. In total, McKinsey predicts the top quintile of industries that has fared well over the course of the pandemic could accumulate 5 billion additional profit, while the quintile that has fared the worst could lose 3 billion.
Marketplace Pulse has estimated Amazon marketplace sellers sold an additional billion worth of products last year than they did in 2019. That’s around 5 billion in total.

Next online sales up 36% year-on-year over Christmas period 2020

From consumer behaviour to demand prediction to retention, the events of the last year have altered or sped up almost every facet of online retail.
Evenings remained the most popular time to browse, but online orders were more spread out throughout the day, peaking between 11am and 4pm, whereas they were typically placed between 7pm and 10pm in 2019. Meanwhile, the number of John Lewis purchases destined for home delivery rose a quarter on last year, quadrupling in the case of orders, and 55% more products were sent to others as gifts.
Digital Transformation Monthly – 2020 in Review
BrandZ has named grocery chain Ocado as the UK’s fastest growing brand in its annual Top 75 Most Valuable Brands report.

M&S online clothing and homeware sales grew by 47.5% in Golden Quarter

In a trading statement, Marks & Spencer has revealed that, despite like-for-like sales falling 7.6% over the ‘Golden Quarter’, online clothing and homeware sales grew by 47.5% year-on-year to £353 million. This figure rose to 62.2% for the month of November 2020 during the second national lockdown, before dropping off a little in December to 47%.
Others that have seen particularly fast growth this year also fall within the food category – Deliveroo, growing by 40% in brand value change in 2020, made number 29 on the list, while Just Eat grew by 19%, placing it just below Ocado at number 20.

Online-only fashion retailer In The Style sees 169% increase in sales in Q4 2020

The ONS has revealed that, during the first peak of the coronavirus outbreak in May, online sales as a share of total retail (excluding fuel) reached 33.8%. Interestingly, online sales percentage dipped only slightly to 27.6% by September when non-essential brick-and-mortar shops had mostly resumed trading, a figure which was still well above pre-Covid levels of 20.1% in February. As a result, this data suggests the acceleration of online shopping in the UK is well and truly here to stay and has fundamentally shifted the state of the retail industry.
Pre-Covid, most consumers that took advantage of the convenience that online grocery shopping affords were millennials living in urban settings. From Q1 this year, those in the Gen Z and Boomer categories have developed more active shopping behaviours in this sector, particularly those that live outside of major population centres.
Since local and national lockdowns began being reintroduced in the Autumn, online sales have grown once again. In October, 28.5% of all retail sales came through online channels and at the end of November, this had increased rapidly to 31.4%.

As of October 2020, luxury beauty ecommerce sales had grown by 60% alone since the same month the year before, making a particularly popular luxury vertical amongst Chinese consumers. More impressively, luxury fashion and lifestyle ecommerce sales in China saw an equivalent increase of 100%, although this started at a relatively small base in 2019 due to overseas purchases having been preferred up until this point.

61% of fashion retailers say they are planning to reduce the number of SKUs in their inventories

The company’s overall core commerce grew a total 38% over this period, with the Tmall marketplace faring particularly well – it reached 19% growth in physical goods GMV and a 60% rise in the number of international brands and sellers on its Tmall Global platform. As a result, Tmall Global also experienced triple-digit growth in the purchases of products shipped and warehoused overseas.
An October survey of more than 2000 British consumers, commissioned by Citizens Advice, has found that nearly half (47%) of British consumers have had issues with the delivery of parcels since the first lockdown began in March 2020.
As a rule, analysis found that geographic areas with lower ecommerce penetration, such as Canada and Australia, saw much faster ecommerce growth this year than those where ecommerce was already a big player before the pandemic hit.

ASOS UK sales up 18% year-on-year to August 31st 2020

Best-sellers in the US so far since the 15th October (the beginning of the company’s Holiday Dash deals event) have included several Amazon branded items including the Echo Dot and Amazon Smart Plug. Ancestry and DNA services like 23andMe have also been popular with shoppers, as has Barack Obama’s latest book ‘A Promised Land’.
Sales of its subscription services grew 33% year-on-year, and Amazon Web Services (AWS) grew by 29%. Total profits were up by 200% to .3 billion compared to the same quarter the year before, beating Amazon’s previous record of .2 billion profit back in Q2.
Amazon’s latest financial statement, released in February, has revealed that sales grew a total 38% throughout 2020, reaching 6.1 billion. Meanwhile, sales of its web services (AWS) accelerated 29.5% to .4 billion vs. billion last year.
International online sales of luxury goods increased by 170% year-on-year in August and September 2020, according to analysis from eShopWorld.

International online sales of luxury goods increased by 170% year-on-year in August and September 2020

Analysis from Nosto has found UK sales in online stores soared 23% on Black Friday 2020. This was accompanied by a 35% rise in online store visits and a 2% increase in conversion rates compared to numbers from the same event in 2019. However, there was a 4% decline in average order value, likely due to heavier discounting than usual to get consumers to part with their cash amid financial uncertainty.
Sensor Tower data also revealed that US app download growth for top brick-and-mortar retailers between Q1-Q3 this year was almost double that of top online-only retail apps (+27% vs. +14%). Downloads for stores that also have a brick-and-mortar presence also dropped off less sharply over the Q3 period compared to those of online-only retailers.
This suggests US consumers found a new way to shop with their favourite high street stores this year under unprecedented circumstances. Customers who favour flexible shipping policies and contact-free pickup particularly reaped the benefits of apps from these kinds of retailers.
Customer engagement also rocketed. Taobao Live generated more than RMB400 billion (US.8 billion) over the course of 2020, highlighting the huge and growing influence of livestreaming on online shopping in the APAC region. Moreover, views of recommended pages displayed on the Taobao app homepage grew a whopping 90% in the fourth quarter alone.

Customer experience

36% of global consumers say visual reviews are influential on clothing purchases

By 2024, it is estimated that retail-focused ecommerce sales will amount to trillion annually, or one-quarter of all global retail for that year. If this growth trajectory continues, on average, in low double digits, this could reach to trillion in sales by 2027.
Globally, the number of internet users in suburban areas that had purchased a grocery item online in the last month rose from 30% in Q1 to 34% in Q2, and those in rural areas followed a similar trend (26% in Q1 to 30% in Q2). Meanwhile, consumers living in urban regions only drove growth of one percentage point over this period.
Amid another national lockdown, and now that many supermarkets have adjusted their services to meet demand, many consumers are opting to order their groceries online this year, reports the Retail Gazette. Analysis of data from Kantar has found that online share of grocery shopping in the UK reached a record 14% in January 2021, thanks to increased spending by older demographics.
A post-Covid boom in China’s luxury market could result in 48% growth by the end of 2020, according to a report from Bain. If the results reflect this, total luxury sales for the year could reach 346 billion RMB, and as growth continues, mainland China is likely to have the largest share in the luxury market sales by 2025.
There was also good news for mobile commerce, which saw a huge 73% year-on-year uplift after many stagnant years.

47% of British consumers have had issues with parcel delivery since the onset of coronavirus

We’ve rounded up a selection of stats to try to illustrate how the pandemic has impacted, and continues to impact, the ecommerce industry, dating back to April 2020. We’ll update this post regularly as the world of online shopping continues to evolve throughout 2021.
This suggests shoppers are taking a more sustainable and cost-friendly approach to their online shopping behaviours since the coronavirus crisis began, something which could continue past the pandemic as consumers cement their habits.
These figures are despite very volatile retail performance over the past year, with April seeing the largest drop in US retail sales ever recorded. Fifty percent of American households are reported to be actively reducing their household spend, while a further 20% have abandoned past brand loyalty in favour of others that were more convenient, inexpensive or had better stock availability.
The coronavirus pandemic has impacted the way in which consumers are driven to purchase products online, particularly through visual UGC, data from a January Bazaarvoice report finds.
— Office for National Statistics (ONS) (@ONS) December 9, 2020

Multichannel retailers saw a particularly bumper year for online sales, seeing them surpass the rate of growth of online-only competitors for the first time since 2017 (+57% year-on-year vs. 9.1%). Categories that experienced the greatest success over 2020 were garden (+222.5%) and electricals (+90.8%), the former of which is typically sold by multichannel retailers. However, online sales of clothing performed quite poorly, up just 1.3% in 2020 compared to growth of 8.2% the year before.

US shopping app downloads slow to a 4% year-on-year growth in Q3 2020 after a Q2 spike

Data from eShopWorld has revealed that cross-border ecommerce sales grew 82% year-on-year in 2020, as globally optimised retailers cashed in on new opportunities.
The Retail Gazette reports a 169% increase in sales for online-only fast fashion retailer In The Style in the 13 weeks to 31st December 2020. Total sales for the quarter were £13.5 million, while sales through its dedicated mobile app rose by more than 500%, according to its data. In fact, in-app sales accounted for more than half of all sales for the brand over this period.
The Phillipines ranked highest in the top 10 growing markets for international online sales, experiencing a whopping 258% year-on-year growth in 2020. This was followed by Morocco, Chile and Puerto Rico at 215%, 211% and 203% growth respectively.
The press release indicated that these sales were ‘heavily biased’ towards sleepwear and leisurewear thanks to Covid-19 having a continued impact on consumers’ lifestyles. Overall, full-price sales of clothing and homeware for the brand declined by a modest 4.8%, while online sales doubled in comparison to the same period the year before.


Pinduoduo’s MAUs increase by 74.6 million quarter-on-quarter in Q3 2020

A press release outlining Amazon’s Q3 financials has confirmed that the company’s net sales grew 37% year-on-year worldwide, totaling .1 billion for the period and surpassing estimates of .7 billion. North American net sales were up by 39%, while international net sales rose by 37%.
In a blog post on 1st December, Amazon revealed that sales performance on Black Friday weekend, which includes Cyber Monday, helped the 2020 holiday season become the ‘biggest yet’ for the company.
March was a particularly notable month for the marketplace as the coronavirus began to overcome multiple regions of the globe. Products sold via the platform accumulated a 46% share of the top 100 most searched queries related to Covid-19 as consumers rushed to buy essentials and safety equipment like PPE and sanitiser. Meanwhile, more than half of new US Amazon sellers joining the marketplace across the month were located in China, an increase of 39% on the same period in 2019.

While Prime Day, which took place from October 13-14, wasn’t included in these results, the company hailed it as the “two biggest days ever for small and medium businesses in Amazon’s stores”. .5 billion in sales were made during this event alone, equating to a 60% uplift compared to 2019’s event. Prime members also saved .4 billion on goods across the two days, according to the statement from Amazon.

China’s annual luxury online penetration increased from 13% in 2019 to 23% in 2020

Gross merchandise value (GMV) reached a whopping 1.5 trillion yuan (+73%), while its revenue climbed 89% year-on-year to 14.2 billion yuan (.1 billion US) as Chinese consumers continued to favour online shopping after its peak of the outbreak in the region. A twenty percentage point decrease in sales and marketing expenses helped to boost this figure further.
Nick Beighton, ASOS CEO, added to the statement: “I am pleased by the improvements we have made this year but there is still more for us to do to continue our progress. Whilst life for our 20-something customers is unlikely to return to normal for quite some time, ASOS will continue to engage, respond and adapt as one of the few truly global leaders in online fashion retail.”
With the UK having been in full or partial lockdown for much of this year, 51% say they feel more reliant on having products delivered to their homes. The increased numbers of people now shopping online, whether for necessity or convenience, seems to have thrown retailers’ logistical issues into the spotlight.
After December’s Christmas rush – which has been touted by many as record-breaking for the ecommerce sector – and as the UK enters another lockdown in the early months of 2021, it would be unsurprising to see the share of online sales in the UK grow to even loftier heights.
The report shows the brand spent £533 million on Covid-19 safety measures for its staff and customers throughout the pandemic thus far.

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