Electronic Commerceresearch report

Global e-commerce assessment in 2019 and preliminary assessment of COVID-19’s impact on online retail in 2020

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According to the latest report released by the United Nations Conference on Trade and development, due to the blockade caused by coronavirus disease in 2019, the rapid growth of e-commerce has increased the share of online retail in all retail sales from 16% in 2020 to 19%.

The report was released by UNCTAD in its two day Intergovernmental Meeting on measuring e-commerce and digital economy, the 2019 global e-commerce assessment and COVID-19’s preliminary assessment of the impact of online retail sales in 2020.

According to the report, online retail sales have grown significantly in several countries, with South Korea reporting the highest share, reaching 25.9% in 2020, up from 20.8% in the previous year.

At the same time, according to the latest estimates, the global e-commerce sales in 2019 jumped to $26.7 trillion, an increase of 4% over 2018.

This includes business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) sales, equivalent to 30% of global GDP that year.

These statistics show the increasing importance of online activities.

Some companies are mixed

The report shows that the new crown pandemic has brought a lot of benefits to leading business to consumer (B2C) e-commerce companies.

According to the data of the top 13 e-commerce companies (10 of which are from China and the United States), the performance of platform companies providing services such as riding and travel has reversed significantly.

The total sales of all these companies dropped sharply, and their ranking dropped accordingly.

For example, online travel company Expedia fell from 5th place in 2019 to 11th place in 2020, booking holdings fell from 6th place to 12th place, and airbnb launched its IPO in 2020, falling from 11th place to 13th place.

Although the total sales volume of service companies decreased, the total sales volume of top 13 B2C e-commerce companies increased by 20.5% in 2020, up from 17.9% in 2019. Shopify (up 95.6%) and Wal Mart (up 72.4%) grew particularly well. Overall, the top 13 companies’ total business to consumer sales will reach $2.9 trillion in 2020.

Business to business sales LED E-commerce

The report estimates that the value of global business to business (B2B) e-commerce in 2019 will be $21.8 trillion, accounting for 82% of all e-commerce, including online marketing platform sales and electronic data interchange (EDI) transactions.

The United States continues to dominate the entire e-commerce market, ahead of Japan and China.

Business to business (B2B) e-commerce sales are estimated to be $4.9 trillion in 2019, an increase of 11% over 2018. The top three countries in this category of e-commerce sales are still China, the United States and the United Kingdom.

In 2019, the total amount of cross-border business to business (B2B) e-commerce is about 440 billion US dollars, an increase of 9% over 2018. The report also points out that the proportion of online shoppers making cross-border purchases has increased from 20% in 2017 to 25% in 2019.

E-commerce companies underperform in digital inclusion

Despite the impressive performance of e-commerce companies, an index released by the world benchmarking alliance in December last year gave poor evaluation of e-commerce in terms of digital inclusion.

The index ranks 100 digital companies, including 14 e-commerce companies, according to their contribution to acquiring digital technology, building digital skills, enhancing trust and promoting innovation.

Compared with other digital industries, such as hardware or telecom service companies, e-commerce enterprises perform poorly.

For example, the highest ranked e-commerce company is eBay, which ranks 49th. Overall, e-commerce companies get only 20 out of 100 possible scores.

According to the report of UNCTAD, a major factor in the poor performance of digital inclusion is the relatively young age of e-commerce companies, which are usually established only in the last two decades.

These companies focus more on shareholders than interact with a wide range of stakeholders to develop indicators of their environmental, social and governance performance, the report said.

Still, there are some bright spots. For example, some e-commerce companies provide entrepreneurs with free training on how to sell online, including, in some cases, online sales training specifically for vulnerable groups, such as the disabled or ethnic minorities.

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