The year 2020 and 2021 undoubtedly will be remembered forever for witnessing enormous changes that the entire world went through the covid 19 pandemic. The pandemic not only impacted various industries, it also slowed down the economic activity. Currently, the eCommerce industry is experiencing a huge surge owing to the acceleration in digitalization and its acceptance worldwide. No other forum has observed such an unprecedented and unforeseen growth as it had been marked in the digital and e-commerce sectors amid the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic. The lockdowns have unfolded several opportunities for eCommerce businesses as well as ecommerce website designers that were potential to lead to the digital transformation even for those areas that were far from modernization. Multiple businesses working with the premium ecommerce development company India switched to the digital platform successfully for selling their products and services, and so did the consumers. Businesses and consumers shifted to digitization, as lockdowns became the new normal, providing and purchasing more services and goods online, thereby raising e-commerce’s share of retail trade globally from 14% in 2019 to about 17% in 2020. The advent and the worldwide switchover from offline to online shopping, even by the most conservative of shoppers, has definitely contributed a lot to the boom in the eCommerce industry.
Government responses on ecommerce and Digitization
Most governments had prioritized short-term responses to the pandemic, but some have also started to address longer-term strategic requirements for recovery. Several governments have intervened to protect businesses and individual incomes. In Latin America and the Caribbean, Costa Rica’s government initiated a platform for businesses to continue without an online presence, and also a smartphone app and texting service has been launched to facilitate trade for agricultural, meat and fish products. In Africa, however, Senegal was able to implement an informative education and awareness campaign on the advantages of e-commerce across all segments of the population. Indonesia, too, launched a capacity-building programme to speed up the digitization and digitalization process within micro, small, and medium enterprises.
The Benefit of ecommerce should be widespread
The reports and analysis show the strong uptake of e-commerce in every region including India, with consumers in emerging economic situations working with a leading ecommerce website development company Bangalore, India making the largest shift to online shopping.
For instance, South America’s online marketplace MercadoLibre was able to sell twice as many items per day in the second quarter of 2020 as compared with the same period the previous year. African e-commerce platform Jumia has also reported over 50% increase in their online transactions during the first six months of 2020.
China’s online share of retail businesses also increased to 24.6% from 19.4% within the period of August 2019 and August 2020. In Kazakhstan as well, the online share of retail business increased from 5% in 2019 to 9.4% in 2020.
Thailand noticed multiple downloads of shopping apps shoot up vigorously – 60% in just one week during March 2020.
This increasing trend towards the adoption of e-commerce uptake observed in 2020 is something that is more likely to be sustained in coming months as well during recovery, the report says.
But while checking for the least developed countries throughout the world, consumers and businesses haven’t capitalized as much on the pandemic-induced e-commerce opportunities due to many barriers. This additionally encompasses expensive broadband services, an over-dependence on cash, lack of consumers’ faith, illiteracy regarding digital skills among the population, and governments’ proper lack of attention to e-commerce.
“Countries that are capable of harnessing the potential of e-commerce will be placed in a better way to reap the benefit from global markets for their goods and services while those that are not capable to do so risk being behind even further in this digitizing economy,” said Shamika N. Sirimanne, the technology and logistics director of UNCTAD.
According to the report, one of the challenges could be that the pandemic has mostly benefited the world’s leading and progressive digital companies as well as India where e-commerce has flourished in major cities with increased development of elegant e-commerce website design in Bangalore.
Many solutions which are being used for e-commerce, teleworking and cloud computing currently are provided by a relatively small number of large companies, based mainly in the United States and China.
Smaller players may have gained a stronger foothold, but their market presence is still reduced by the digital giants, which could establish their predominant role during the pandemic.
“The risk lies in that huge digital divides that exist between and within countries might only worsen in the wake of the prevailing pandemic,” said Torbjörn Fredriksson, the digital economy head of UNCTAD. However, the result will be even deep rooted with inequalities that would threaten to derail progress for the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” he added.
Significant points to focus on while developing an inclusive e-commerce
The report maps out actions that should be taken by three stakeholder groups to ensure better inclusive benefits from e-commerce. It says that Governments need to prioritize a national digital readiness to attract more local businesses to become successful producers in the digital economy, and not just consumers.
According to the report, building a successful and efficient e-commerce ecosystem requires changes in public policy and business practices as well to improve the digital and trading infrastructure, to facilitate digital payments and establish appropriate legal and regulatory frameworks for the online transactions and security. The approach should be holistic and to capture value from digital trade, digital entrepreneurship should become a central focus. This exclaims a speedy digitalization process for smaller businesses and increased attention to digital entrepreneurship, encompassing reskilling, especially of women.
Countries further need better capabilities to capture and harness potential data, and stronger regulatory frameworks to create and capture value in the digital economy. Lastly, the ecommerce community needs to find improvised, smart and prominent ways to work with governments.
“The digital divide is one of the challenging areas that can only be removed only through our collective efforts and international support”. Mr. Bozkir further remarked, “E-commerce has provided immense potential over the SDGs. Therefore, efforts must be made to harness this rapidly emerging tool.”
A one-day high-level thematic debate on the digital cooperation and connectivity was announced on 27 April 2021 to support UN-wide work on the topic that was expected to provide a platform for high-level political statements of intent and support, and hassle free exchanges among UN entities, technology leaders, constituents and stakeholders, to construct a momentum and mobilize the international community to improve existing multi-stakeholder initiatives and partnerships, and thereby support the creation of additional partnerships to accelerate the implementation.
An Anticipation for the future of e-commerce
Better dialogue and improved collaboration are always needed and have proved to be beneficial for identifying new pathways for the digital economy. The UNCTAD-led eTrade for all initiative, which is currently funded by the Netherlands, Germany and Estonia, can be referred to in this context as one such platform for doing so. Over the past years, the initiative has served developing countries to bridge the knowledge gap on e-commerce resources and information as a global helpdesk, thereby catalysing partnership among its partners.
Since the outbreak of the pandemic, over 30 eTrade have worked together to raise awareness on the e-commerce opportunities for all partners and they also addressed the risks emerging during the crisis. They identified ways as well in which businesses could overcome the challenges.
The COVID-19 repository that was launched in the fall of 2020 and the new COVID-19 and e-commerce report are the latest collective efforts by the initiative to build a sustainable digital future.
On Final Notes:
The Covid 19 pandemic has certainly boosted the eCommerce industry but simultaneously it brought several challenges too owing to the surges in product demand, orders, or disturbances in supplies, changing customer behavior etc. The 2021 Global Payments Report published by Worldpay FIS, a financial technology product and services provider, that tracked trends in 41 countries has revealed that digital commerce accelerated during the pandemic. “The Indian eCommerce industry has already witnessed a huge surge due to COVID-19 and also there is substantial space for future growth,” noted Phil Pomford, the managing director, Asia Pacific. The report further said India’s e-commerce market mostly will be driven by mobile shopping, thereby projecting it to grow 21 per cent per annum over the next few years along with e-commerce web design, Bangalore. Digital wallets (40 percent) succeeded by credit cards (15 percent) and debit cards (15 percent) were found out to be the most popular payment methods online in 2020.