Global e-commerce sales climb to $ 26.7 billion, online retail sales increase

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The dramatic increase in e-commerce amid COVID 19-induced movement restrictions has pushed the online retail share of total retail sales from 16% to 19% in 2020, according to estimates in a report by the UNCTAD released on Saturday.

UNCTAD released the report “Global e-commerce estimates 2019 and preliminary assessment of the impact of COVID-19 on online retailing 2020”, as it hosted a two-day intergovernmental meeting on measuring trade electronics and digital economy.

Online retail sales have grown significantly in several countries, according to the report, with the Republic of Korea recording the highest share at 25.9% in 2020, up from 20.8% the year before.

The pandemic, however, has resulted in mixed fortunes for some e-commerce businesses, overturning the fortunes of companies offering services such as ridesharing and travel.

Meanwhile, global e-commerce sales climbed to $ 26.7 trillion globally in 2019, up 4% from 2018, according to the latest available estimates.

This includes business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) sales, and is equivalent to 30 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP) that year.

“These statistics show the growing importance of online activities. They also highlight the need for countries, especially developing countries, to have this information as they rebuild their economies in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, ”said Shamika Sirimanne, Chief Technology Officer and logistics of UNCTAD.

According to the UNCTAD report, the COVID-19 pandemic has also resulted in mixed fortunes for major B2C e-commerce companies.

Data for the top 13 e-commerce companies, 10 of which are from China and the United States, show a notable reversal in fortunes for platform companies offering services such as transportation and travel (Table 2).

All of them have experienced sharp declines in gross cargo volume (GMV) and corresponding declines in ranks.

For example, Expedia went from 5th place in 2019 to 11th in 2020, Booking Holdings from 6th to 12th and Airbnb, which launched its IPO in 2020, from 11th to 13th.

Despite the reduction in service companies’ GMV, the total GMV of the top 13 B2C e-commerce companies increased by 20.5% in 2020, more than in 2019 (17.9%). Particularly large gains were recorded for Shopify (+ 95.6%) and Walmart (72.4%). Overall, the B2C GMV for the top 13 companies was $ 2.9 trillion in 2020.

The report estimates the value of global B2B e-commerce in 2019 at $ 21.8 trillion, or 82% of all e-commerce, including sales on online marketplaces and electronic data exchange transactions ( EDI).

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

B2C e-commerce sales were estimated at $ 4.9 trillion in 2019, up 11% from 2018. The top three countries in terms of B2C online sales remained China, the United States and the United States. UK.

Cross-border B2C e-commerce amounted to some $ 440 billion in 2019, an increase of 9% from 2018. The UNCTAD report also notes that the share of online shoppers shopping cross-border has increased from 20% in 2017 to 25%. hundred in 2019.

Despite the considerable fortunes of e-commerce companies, an index released by the World Benchmarking Alliance in December of last year rated them low on digital inclusion. The index ranked 100 digital companies, including 14 e-commerce companies, based on their contribution to accessing digital technologies, building digital skills, building trust and fostering innovation.

E-commerce companies have underperformed compared to companies in other digital industries such as computer hardware or telecommunications services.

For example, the highest ranked e-commerce company was eBay in 49th place. Overall, e-commerce companies scored only 20 out of a possible 100.

One of the main factors behind the poor performance, according to the UNCTAD report, is that e-commerce businesses are relatively young, typically started over the past two decades.

“These companies have focused more on shareholders than on dialogue with a large group of stakeholders and have compiled metrics on their environmental, social and governance performance,” the report says.

However, there are a few bright spots. For example, several e-commerce companies offer free training for entrepreneurs on how to sell online, including in some cases specifically for vulnerable groups such as people with disabilities or ethnic minorities.

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