Impact of Covid-19 on e-commerce


We will discover the key findings from the study conducted by UNCTAD and a trade for all partners on the impacts of covid 19 on e-commerce and digital trade e-commerce has been playing a growing role as part of the wider digital economy in global economic activity for the past decade it also provides new ways of facilitating the sustainable development goals, bringing both new challenges and new opportunities.  In fact, despite the global recession the pandemic has led to a further acceleration of digital transformation. 

How Covid 19 boosted E-commerce so far:

First let’s look more closely at the global economic impact of the pandemic the global economy shrank in 2020 by an estimated 4.3 percent over two and a half times more than during the 2008 to 2009 global financial crisis.  International trade including intercontinental and intra-regional e-commerce has been negatively affected by the pandemic.  

UNCTAD’s latest estimates suggest that global trading goods  fell by some nine percent in 2020 and  trading services by 15  however as social distancing and  restrictions on movement became the new  normal  many businesses and consumers went  digital  providing and purchasing more goods and  services online.  As a result the pandemic has led to a  further acceleration of digital  transformation  the share of e-commerce in global retail  trade  is estimated to have surged from 14  in 2019 to about 17  in 2020, further acceleration of digital  transformation  was also observed in other sectors such  as  teleworking, gaming, distance learning,  digital entertainment,  online conferencing, the pandemic has  also benefited the world’s leading  digital platforms.

Most solutions being used for e-commerce  teleworking and cloud computing  are provided by a relatively small number  of large companies  based mainly in China and the United States  consumers in emerging economies have  made the greatest shift to online  shopping.  Latin America’s online marketplace Mercado Libra for example sold twice as many articles per day in the second quarter of 2020 compared with the same period the previous year.  An African e-commerce platform, Jumia reported a 50 jump in transactions during the first six months of 2020.  In China, the online share of retail sales rose from 19.4 to 24.6  between august 2019 and August 2020.  In Kazakhstan, the online share of retail sales increased from 5 in 2019 to 9.4  in 2020. In Thailand,  downloads of shopping apps jumped 60  in the week between the imposition of  partial lockdown  and full emergency measures during March,  the accelerated trend towards e-commerce.

Seeing during the pandemic  is likely to be sustained during  recovery more than 50 percent of those  interviewed  in October’s consumer survey in nine  countries said that they expected to  continue shopping more often online  after the pandemic, e-commerce platforms  are therefore likely to retain  many of the new market shares gained  during the pandemic  vis-à-vis offline markets, however in  many of the world’s least developed  countries  consumers and businesses aren’t able to  capitalize on the new e-commerce  opportunities  due to persistent bottlenecks and  weaknesses in their e-trade readiness.  The risk is that the huge digital  divides  that already exist between and within  countries will worsen  in the wake of the pandemic.  The pandemic has reinforced the  importance of addressing  existing barriers, as the shift to the  digital economy has been accelerated by  the pandemic. The report sees the need for greater  efforts by three  main stakeholders to secure more  inclusive benefits from e-commerce. 

  • First governments need to prioritize national digital readiness  so that more local businesses can become  producers  in the digital economy not just  consumers  building and enabling e-commerce  ecosystem requires changes in public  policy  and business practices to improve the  digital and trading infrastructure  facilitate digital payments and  establish appropriate  legal and regulatory frameworks for  online transactions and security  so the approach must be holistic  policies should not be made in silos.
  • Second digital entrepreneurship must become a central focus of efforts  to capture value from digital trade. 
  • This requires faster digitalization among smaller businesses  more attention to digital  entrepreneurship including risk  skilling better capabilities to capture  and harness data and stronger regulatory 

Third the international community  including development partners  united nations agencies and commissions  regional economic communities  and organizations concerned with digital  development  needs to find new bold and smart ways  to work with governments and the private  sector to leverage these opportunities  better dialogue and collaboration are  needed to identify new pathways for the  digital economy that harness  varying kinds of experience and  expertise and avoid duplication.

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