Volkan Bozkir, the president of the UN General Assembly, told an event to release the report that eCommerce will continue its trend during the recovery from COVID-19.
In the face of slowing economic growth, COVID-19 has accelerated digital transformation and driven e-commerce. By 2020, e-commerce's share of global retail trade will rise from 14% to about 17%, as lockdowns become a new normal. Businesses and consumers increasingly purchased more goods and services online as a result.
A new report, COVID-19 and E-Commerce: A Global Review, by UNCTAD and eTrade for all partners, reflect on these and other findings, detailing the powerful global and regional industry transformations seen throughout 2020. Volkan Bozkir, the president of the UN General Assembly, told an event to release the report that eCommerce will continue its trend during the recovery from COVID-19.
He said governments and citizens must recognize the challenges and take steps to support them as they embrace new ways of working. In a statement, UNCTAD Acting Secretary-General Isabelle Durant stated: "Businesses and consumers who went digital helped mitigate economic downturns brought on by the pandemic."
The digital transition has also accelerated, which has profound implications for our societies and everyday lives - for which not everyone is prepared," she said, adding: "Developing countries should not only be consumers but also players and producers of the digital economy."
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The findings indicate that e-commerce is gaining traction across regions, with consumers in emerging economies switching the most to online shopping. According to Mercado Libre, the online marketplace in Latin America sold twice as many items per day in the second quarter of 2020 as in the second quarter of 2019. In the first half of 2020, the African eCommerce platform Jumia reported a 50% jump in transactions.
Between August 2019 and August 2020, the online share of retail sales in China increased from 19.4% to 24.6%. From 5% of retail sales in 2019 to 9.4% in 2020, the online share has increased in Kazakhstan. Over the course of one week in March 2020, shopping apps were downloaded 60% more frequently in Thailand. According to the report, the trend toward e-commerce uptake is likely to persist during recovery.
There are persistent barriers to e-commerce in many of the world's least developed countries, which have prevented consumers and businesses from taking advantage of pandemic-induced opportunities. Among the reasons include high-cost internet connections, reliance on cash, a lack of customer trust, a lack of digital skills among the community, and a lack of government attention to e-commerce.
Countries that use eCommerce effectively will benefit from increased global demand, but those that fail to do so risk falling behind even further," said Shamika Sirimanne, UNCTAD's director of technology and logistics. One of the issues, according to the research, is that the pandemic has primarily benefited the world's biggest internet platforms.
eCommerce, teleworking, and cloud computing solutions are mostly provided by a relatively small number of large companies based in China and the United States. Despite the smaller players making major inroads into the market, the digital giants still rule, which could cement their role during the flu pandemic. As the initiative builds a sustainable digital future, COVID-19, the repository launched in the fall of 2020, and the e-commerce report represent the latest efforts.
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