Thanks largely to the acceleration of digital transformation and the need to sell things to consumers in safer, more socially distanced ways during the COVID-19 pandemic, ecommerce has surged, but it still remains a fraction of total retail sales. That's one of the findings of GroupM's just-released "Emerging Stronger: Building Brands In A Transformed World" report.
GroupM's Business Intelligence group estimates ecommerce will jump to nearly 20% of all retail sales worldwide this year, up from 16.1% last year.
While U.S. ecommerce sales lag the global average, they will actually expand at a faster rate this year -- rising 2.5 percentage points to 17.6% of all U.S. retail sales.
The biggest market driving ecommerce growth has been China, where platforms like WeChat, Alibaba, etc. increasingly are the norm for marketing and buying retail-oriented products and brands.
GroupM estimates ecommerce's share of China's retail sales will grow to 27.5% this year.
"In some ways, ecommerce has been around for as long as people have used telephones to order products from catalogs," GroupM's analysts write in the report, noting: "But in 2020, as pandemic lockdowns around the globe kept stores closed and people confined to their homes, e-commerce entered a new, dominant phase of its evolution."
"How long these pandemic-induced shopping trends will persist is still a matter of conjecture," they add, "but early signs suggest that consumers who have adjusted to conducting business online are unlikely to return to old habits."