With a second lockdown in place across much of Europe, and after an extended period of isolation across the spring and much of the summer, UK businesses have faced repeated challenges throughout 2020 – and with shopping high-points like Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas fast approaching, many are wondering what impact Coronavirus has had on digital businesses.
For many, the news is good – UK online retail sales between November 23rd and November 30th could grow by 35-45% on last year’s figures, according to new research from IMRG. The research also indicated that consumers were more likely to take advantage of early Black Friday promotions in an attempt to avoid receiving deliveries too close to Christmas.
So far, 4.3% out of 320 stores analysed by IMRG had launched Black Friday offers as of 4th November, in contrast to just 2.3% that had done so by the same date in 2019. Further research from IMRG Capgemini’s Online Retail Index revealed a slowdown in online retail growth in October, which was up 35.7% year-on-year versus a larger 42% growth in September. When another lockdown was rumoured in the last week of October, this trend appeared to reverse and online shopping activity began to spike again at 43.4% up on last year. As a result, Black Friday will likely boost November’s increased (thanks to lockdown) online sales to even loftier heights.
Who has seen digital success during lockdown?
There have been some winners over the global lockdown periods, giving businessess an insight into the digital marketplaces that consumers turn to when their access to the highstreet is restricted!
November 11th saw Alibaba pull in record sales during one of the largest retail events in China ‘ Singles Day. Purchases made in the 11-day campaign period covering the unofficial holiday topped $74 billion, a new high for the company and a 26% increase on 2019’s event.
In its press release, the ecommerce giant said that more than 470 brands using Alibaba made 100 million yuan in gross merchandise value (GMV) as a result of the shopping festival. The platform also claimed it had processed 583,000 purchases per second during the peak of activity across the campaign. Of the quarter of a million brands that participated, 31,000 originated from outside of the Chinese market. 2,600 of these were joining the event for the first time.
A press release outlining Amazon’s Q3 financials has confirmed that the company’s net sales grew 37% year-on-year worldwide, totaling $96.1 billion for the period and surpassing estimates of $92.7 billion. North American net sales were up by 39%, while international net sales rose by 37%.
Sales of its subscription services grew 33% year-on-year, and Amazon Web Services (AWS) grew by 29%. Total profits were up by 200% to $6.3 billion compared to the same quarter the year before, beating Amazon’s previous record of $5.2 billion profit back in Q2.
With Amazon’s sales expected to rise further as the year draws to a close, these strong growth figures are in line with an accelerated trend in one-stop-shop online marketplace shopping amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Ebay’s Q3 2020 financial statement has revealed that its revenue rose 25% to $2.61 billion compared to the same period in 2019, beating expert estimates of $2.48 billion. In the quarter ending 30th September, the marketplace also reported that its number of annual active buyers increased by 5% to total 183 million globally.
ASOS UK sales have risen by 18% year-on-year to £1.18bn, according to the brand’s full year financial statement ending August 31st 2020. International retail markets, which include the European, US and ROW regions, performed even higher at +20% during the same period.
The statement also revealed that the company has seen a 3.1 million rise in its active customer base, which now totals 23.4 million across the world, reflecting increased brand engagement spurred on by the pandemic.
Will digital commerce continue to dominate?
Predictions from ecommerce brand eShopWorld state global cross-border ecommerce sales could rise an average of 63% year-on-year throughout November and December. It says it expects these sales to grow by 56% in November, followed by a 70% growth in December as shoppers prepare for the holiday season. With some of the busiest times of the shopping year coming up, and consumers feeling cynical about their ability to go to physical shops, now is certainly a good time to have a robust digital shopping option!