Coronavirus and Retail: The first data about E-Commerce

The global crisis of COVID-19 sped up convergence between traditional and online commerce, an outcome that we were beating in the retail world, not just because of what numbers and tendencies promised, but because of a situation that nobody ever imagined. In times of social distancing there is no safer alternative, for our customers and for our employees, than to shop online.


Lockdown due to the health emergency raised the numbers of online purchases at global level. The WTO highlights that B2B and B2C sales soared. Industries that were in the last positions, talking about the amount of online transactions, such as food, beverages or cleaning and hygiene items, quickly climbed several positions on the ranking that is usually led by industries such as tourism, hotel and technology.

Behaviours, tendencies and numbers of e-Commerce in LATAM and in the US

The United States is certainly one of the countries in which online shopping is an everyday occurrence. Before the declaration of the pandemic, eMarketer forecasted an increase in e-commerce sales of 12.8%. Tendencies indicate that 38.7% of online transactions would be concentrated by Amazon, followed by Walmart and eBay whose share averages 5%.


In LATAM, there is also a before and after of the pandemic in terms of e-commerce.


Brazilian Chamber of E-Commerce stated that, in March, online sales index and its corresponding invoicing grew just over 20%, while the average ticket had a slight variation of 0.2%. The categories that lead the demand are technology, household appliances and clothing.


In Argentina, where until last year 43% of the population had made at least one online purchase there was an increase of 30% in supermarket online transactions. In drugstores, amounts reached up to 60%, as reported by the Argentine Chamber of E-Commerce (CACE for its Spanish acronym), and in technology up to 50%.


E-commerce numbers in Chile were already going up since the social crisis broke out in October 2019 which, in a certain way it allowed companies to get to the current scenario with more experience than any other country in the region. According to the Santiago Chamber of Commerce (CSS for its Spanish acronym), online retail sales increased from 5% to 15% of total sales.


In Mexico 5 out of 10 consumers shop through the Internet. Consulted by the Mexican Association of Online Sales, this happens, firstly, because they do not want to go out of their houses after the declaration of the health emergency and, secondly, to avoid crowds in physical stores. The results of the surveys carried out in the country also highlighted that purchases are oriented to food delivery, fashion and supermarkets.


Colombia showed an increase of pieces per ticket but a lower average value. Online sales during the first week of April grew 29% in comparison with the previous week, according to the Colombian Chamber of E-Commerce. The highest conversion rate was taken by pet shops, drugstores and fashion.

The end justifies the means

The digital gap is, for the WTO one of the most traditional obstacles in terms of e-commerce. This becomes evident mainly in developing countries, where they emphasize the need of more affordable and efficient ICTs, as well as greater international cooperation to facilitate the cross-border movement of goods and services.


Now, more than ever, the future is uncertain. These days experiences, in terms of online shopping, will be vital for understanding how digital businesses will develop. If the benefits of time saving and less effort are added to the possibility of being unexposed to risk, e-commerce is the transactional means indicated for economic recovery.

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