Despite the retail industry suffering acute pain during 2020 – and lasting into 2021 too – ecommerce sales witnessed its biggest even boom, reaching unprecedented heights and accelerated growth.
Last year, total retail ecommerce sales increased 27.6%, reaching a global value of $4.28 trillion.
If we were to break down the international ecommerce block into its separate markets, then which regions have been performing stronger than others? And how do they compare to each other?
Fastest growing markets
The fastest growing market across the globe during 2020, and surpassing Asia’s growth for the first time since 2010, was Latin America, with year-on-year sales growth of 36.7%. This is compared to the global average of 27.6%.
- (36.7%) Latin America
- (31.8%) North America
- (29.1%) Central & Eastern Europe
- (26.4%) Asia-Pacific
- (26.3%) Western Europe
- (19.8%) Middle East & Africa
The pandemic has been the catalyst for the fast growth of ecommerce around the world. But this was particularly the case in Latin America – and more specifically South America. The region’s two largest economic hubs – Buenos Aires and São Paulo – endured some of the strictest lockdowns and quarantine measures in the world. And these in turn forced ecommerce to accelerate more so.
This was very much the case in Buenos Aires: Argentines had to endure the longest lockdown in the world. This helps to explain why Argentina was, in fact, the fastest growing ecommerce market at the country level during 2020, with a yearly growth rate of 79% – this is almost double the country average!
- (79%) Argentina
- (71.1%) Singapore
- (36%) Spain
- (35%) Brazil
- (34.7%) the UK
- (33.5%) Finland
- (33%) the Philippines
- (32.4%) the US
- (32.2%) Norway
- (27.6%) India
Coming up behind Argentina in second place was Singapore, with an annual growth rate of 71.1% in ecommerce sales. They were the only other country to advance beyond 40% yearly growth. To support ecommerce growth, Singapore launched a few policies to support its growing digital industry. As one example, government agencies have partnered with Google to provide training for those who want to work in tech.
Third on the list was Spain, which saw a yearly increase in ecommerce of 36%. Again, strict lockdown measures forced consumers to pivot towards digital shopping.
Growth by category
Now, turning away from the country level and focusing on the category level, which industries have witnessed and harbored greater ecommerce growth than others?
The fastest growing category last year was ‘food & personal care’, which saw a global ecommerce increase of 44.8%. Compare that to the worst performing category, ‘travel, mobility & accommodation’, which saw a decrease of 52.6% in ecommerce sales.
- (44.8%) food & personal care
- (43.9%) electronics & physical media
- (37.4%) toys, DIY & hobbies
- (35.2%) digital music
- (34.4%) fashion & beauty
- (32.8%) video games
- (30.9%) furniture & appliances
- (-52.6%) travel, mobility & accommodation
Of course, it makes sense that travel and accommodation have been hit the hardest, given the restrictions on travel and social distancing.
According to one report, the travel industry is expected to bounce back by 2023. But it all depends on the global, regional, and local level.
Uneven development = deeper personalization
Because each regional market has grown at different speeds and looks different from one another, it means that generic marketing tactics will no longer work for all campaigns.
Companies that have ecommerce capabilities are going to need to personalize their digital content if they want to display relevant content for all of their customers across the regions in which they operate.