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Commerce for the Week of September 21, 2020

An aerial view of a container ship docked at a dock during Commerce for the Week of September 21.

Soon there’ll be little distinction between online and offline business models. The in-store and digital experience are merging, and the first test case for the world is the approaching year-end holiday season where pure players and retailers have a huge opportunity.

But it depends where you’re at. In some places, foot traffic’s up in-store —  not all the way back up, but good compared to Q1 and Q2. In other places, not only is retail traffic down, but so is online spending. We are seeing a marked decline in average order values around the world. Consumers are still shopping. They’re just spending a lot less than they were back in May and June.

Welcome to the weekly Insights commerce roundup where we track how brands are adapting to changes in consumer shopping and spending around the world. Here are some of the top e-commerce trends we’ve spotted over the past seven days.

Retailers Put Pandemic Lessons to Work This Holiday Season

The shift to online shopping has impacted retailers everywhere, and one problem is how much more prevalent brand switching has become. Older customers tend to be more loyal to brands, so being able to create that same draw for younger customers is going to be huge for retail this upcoming holiday season.  

Rachelle Denton, Creative Strategy Director and Co-founder of The Storm Collective, observes the ongoing shift among Millennials and Gen Z: “Many said that because they were shopping online, they were exposed to new brands more than ever before. Tactical advertising obviously played a role in that. Most people, around 42%, said that they would stick with those brands they recently encountered.”

Meeting these demands is every retailer’s goal as we head toward Black Friday. The best brands have been agile in responding to changes in shopping, while others have suffered from supply chain problems and mobile apps and websites that couldn’t handle the digital shift. In some cases, there were long lines in-store (when stores were open), and some customers surely walked away from the experience turned off by a retailer.

But let’s look at a couple big retailers who have been merging the online and offline experience successfully.


In the United Kingdom, the grocery retailer Tesco has met the shift-to-e-commerce challenge, in part by investing in predictive technology and leveraging first-party data..

“Tesco was slightly ahead of the curve in terms of consumer habits and changes in behavior,” Gemma Spence, CEO at OMG Transact said. “It went for a very demand-led view based on predictive insights, using its loyalty data and matching it to geography to prioritize those in need, including health workers and care workers. By tying together consumer demands, the technology, and consumer experience, all underpinned by customer data, Tesco performed particularly well to meet the core needs of its new and loyal customers.”


In the United States, Kroger is a large grocery retailer whose digital business brings in a small part of overall sales. However, by the end of Q2, online sales were up 127% for the brand, and this was after a significant 92% rise in Q1. Kroger has done what some retailers haven’t, and that’s adapt rapidly to meet customer demand. Roughly 98% of their customers had the options of contactless pickup at the store or delivery throughout the pandemic, and Kroger took the online purchase data to then determine which messages they should show to which customers on the website and mobile app.

As a result, Kroger’s foot traffic went up nearly 2% in August when other US grocery retailers were under 0%. Kroger’s Chairman and CEO Rodney McMullen noted an emerging trend, “As you look at markets where COVID incident rates are lower or less severe, what we find are people start visiting the store more often, but they don’t spend as much.” (This matches what Emarsys Insights is seeing in AOV growth rates this week.)


Another big retailer with more than 90% of e-commerce orders fulfilled at local brick-and-mortars, Target already has a plan for engaging customers this November and December. They’ll hire more distribution center workers and shift a large number of employees to accommodate curbside and in-store pickup.

Melissa Kremer, Chief Human Resources Officer at Target, explained what they’ve learned so far: “Throughout the year, the team has successfully balanced strong demand in our stores with surging digital volume. Knowing that the holiday season will be unlike any other, we’re building in even more flexibility to make sure Target remains a safe and convenient place to work and shop, while investing in our team’s industry-leading pay and benefits.” 

Rest assured, the retailers we’ve discussed here are on the path to greater customer engagement by really focusing on the entire shopping experience. . 

Pandemic Pushes Japan into Greater Mobile Commerce

Despite a poor showing in e-commerce AOV growth for both pure players (down 108% in the last month for -62% YoY) and retailers (down 27% in the last month for -16% YoY) this week, Japan is in the midst of a mobile transformation. 

Japan Retail E Com Aov Since Jan 9 25 2020
Retail online AOV growth since January 2020 in Japan.

Over the last few years, the Japanese have continued to use hard cash in a lot of transactions. However, eMarketer has been watching commerce during the pandemic, and based on their findings, they predict that 21.5% of Japan’s consumers will leverage mobile payment by the end of the year, up by 4.8 million users in 2019.

This is huge and rapid growth, with mobile payments rising 25% between 2018 and 2019. The global shift to digital suggests this will only increase, and there’s room for growth. eMarketer predicts that by 2023, a quarter of Japan’s population will purchase through mobile.

The government has rolled out mobile incentives like a cashless rebate/rewards program, where shoppers could receive cashback or points worth up to 5% of their mobile transactions.

“COVID-19 has accelerated the push toward cashless payments as consumers avoid the use of cash and plastic cards,” Cindy Liu, eMarketer senior forecasting analyst at Insider Intelligence, pointed out. “Japan is betting big on QR codes as consumer payment preferences begin to change. QR codes don’t require huge investments from vendors, and it is also simple and easy to use for consumers.”

Everyone’s Looking to Mobile This Holiday Season

Just like in Japan in the above article, the United States has seen tremendous growth in mobile purchases spurred by the pandemic. Mobile sales are expected to hit $314 billion by the end of the year with total e-commerce sales expected to rise to nearly $710 billion, according to eMarketer’s analysis.

This is good news for retailers who are expected to see a 14% decline in sales this year, and that’s even with 18% growth in e-commerce purchases during the pandemic. Consumers continue to shop more and more from their phones, which is why eMarketer forecasts mobile sales will hit $71.3 billion this holiday season, up almost 12% from 2019.

Data Insights for the Week

The Americas

With only two countries (Colombia and Argentina) in the global top ten for pure e-commerce, the Americas lag behind Europe and some countries in APAC. Retail e-commerce is far worse with only Ecuador above 0% AOV YoY.

AOV Increase Leaders at a Glance

Americas Aov Leaders 9 25 2020
Top 5 AOV Increase Leaders in The Americas (week beginning September 21, 2020).


Pure players in Europe lead the world in AOV growth over the last four weeks, with five countries in the global top ten and higher rates than the other regions. In AOV growth for retail e-commerce, Europe dominates the world with seven countries in the global top ten and higher rates at the top than the Americas or APAC.

AOV Increase Leaders at a Glance

Europe Aov Leaders 9 25 2020
Top 5 AOV Increase Leaders in Europe (week beginning September 21, 2020).

Asia Pacific

Vietnam and China have the best AOV growth in pure e-commerce for the region and come in first and third in the world. Overall, APAC has better growth rates than the Americas in both pure and retail e-commerce this week, although retail online AOV growth is down across the region for everyone except India.

AOV Increase Leaders at a Glance

Apac Aov Leaders 9 25 2020
Top 5 AOV Increase Leaders in the Asia-Pacific region (week beginning September 21, 2020).

Top Product Trends of This Week

Product Trend 9 25 2020
Product trends (week beginning September 21, 2020).

Key Product Trend Insights: Up almost 3,000% in YoY uplift, the dishwasher returns as the most popular product this week, though we see other appliances and home improvement items accelerating as well.

Growth Rate of Online Transactions

Overall, the strongest year-over-year AOV growth this week is in Europe, where except for isolated successes, the Americas and APAC have fallen over the last four weeks.

Following are the growth trends we see this week, but you can explore Regional and Countries trends in more depth.

Trends by Region

Pure e-commerce: Europe’s the best overall in year-over-year AOV growth, though down from a high of +13% on September 10th. APAC has been steady with growth mostly above 0% for the last two weeks, but the Americas have bottomed out with an overall decline of -5% in the same time. 

Regional Pure E Com 9 25 2020
Pure e-commerce trends by region (the Americas, Europe, APAC) (week beginning September 21, 2020).

Retail online: The Americas were up over +5% in AOV growth but started falling on September 14th to end the period under +0%. APAC’s retailers have fared better, holding steady at just above 0% YoY and rising to nearly +4% in the last few days. Although the top European countries have had great retail online AOV growth in many cases over the last month, overall growth has remained below -15%. 

Regional Retail Online 9 25 2020
Retail online trends by region (the Americas, Europe, APAC) (week beginning September 21, 2020).

Trends by Country

Pure E-Commerce

The top two countries in the Americas have led pure players in the region in year-over-year AOV growth for the last two months, with Colombia falling 15% in the last four weeks to end at +29.3% YoY, and Argentina falling 23% to end at +28.5% YoY, #6 and #7, respectively, in the world.

Apart from the top two, AOV growth in the last month has been tough with Chile eking out +1% (+16% YoY), Brazil rising the most with +11% (+11% YoY), and Canada up 7% (+8% YoY).

The United States, however, fell 4% in the last month (-6% YoY), and Mexico dropped 9% (-42% YoY).

Countries Americas Pure E Com 9 25 2020
Pure e-commerce trends by country (the Americas: Colombia, Chile, Brazil, United States) (week beginning September 21, 2020).

AOV growth in pure e-commerce in Europe has been great for some countries in the last four weeks, with five countries in the global top ten, beating out the Americas and APAC in overall AOV growth. However, 47% of the countries we track have actually fallen below 0% YoY growth in the same time.

Ukraine rose the most, up 85% (+99% YoY, #2 global), but there’s a significant 57% gap between Ukraine and France, who rose 12% in the last four weeks to end at +48% YoY and #4 global. The other three countries in the global top ten are Norway up 9% (+34% YoY, #5 global), Denmark down 5% (+28% YoY, #8 global), and Estonia down 4% (+27% YoY, #9 global).

Elsewhere over the last month, Turkey rose 11% (+18% YoY), the United Kingdom came up 2% (+18% YoY), Ireland rose 12% (+15% YoY), and Hungary made a great +24% gain to end with +14% YoY in AOV growth. Two other great risers in the last month were Slovakia up 28% (+4% YoY) and Slovenia up 34% (-19% YoY).

With good growth at the top, it can be easy to overlook the bottom half of the region: Germany’s holding steady at -6% YoY, while many other countries are seeing greater declines, like Poland (-21% YoY), Belgium (-26% YoY), and Russia (-34% YoY).

Countries Europe Pure E Com 9 25 2020
Pure e-commerce trends by country (Europe: Ukraine, France, Ireland, Germany) (week beginning September 21, 2020).

In APAC, the top seven countries are above 0% YoY AOV growth —  better than pure e-commerce in the Americas  — but the big story here is Vietnam. In the last month, the country rose to #1 in the world with an amazing 144% gain for +111% YoY growth. Forty-four percent below Vietnam is China, down 38% (+57% YoY, #3 global).

More than 25% below China are the rest of the positive-growth countries with Taiwan down 13% (+26% YoY, #10 global), India down 5% (+18% YoY), Malaysia down 2% (+12% YoY), and New Zealand down 5% to end with +11% YoY.

Barely hanging on to positive growth over the last four weeks is Australia, down 13% for +0.38% YoY. It gets worse though, with Thailand falling 6% (-8% YoY), South Korea down 10% (-11% YoY), Indonesia down 5% (-38% YoY), and Japan down the most, falling 108% in the last month to end at -62% YoY.

Countries Apac Pure E Com 9 25 2020
Pure e-commerce trends by country (APAC: Vietnam, China, Taiwan, India) (week beginning September 21, 2020).

Retail Online

In the Americas, retail e-commerce AOV growth has only been good (and then some) for Ecuador, up 16% in the last four weeks to lead the region with +130% YoY and #2 in the world. The rest of the region is seeing AOV declines as spending gets tighter.

In the last month, the next best country was Mexico down 20% (-4% YoY), followed by the US down 4% (-5% YoY), Brazil down a steep 54% (-8% YoY), Peru up 4% (-14% YoY) Canada down 22% (-28% YoY), and Columbia plummeting 68% to end at -78% YoY.

Countries Americas Retail Online 9 25 2020
Retail online trends by country (the Americas: Ecuador, Mexico, Canada, Colombia) (week beginning September 21, 2020).

Year-over-year AOV growth for European retail e-commerce is great at the top, not so much at the bottom. More than half of the countries we track are under 0% YoY growth, yet seven of the top ten in the world are in Europe.

On top is Romania up 132% in the last month to end at +159% YoY and take the #1 spot in the world. Then as we see in the Americas and APAC, there’s a big gap between Romania and the next best country, Slovenia up 60% for +62% YoY and #4 global.

Further down, the top countries are closer together, many of them seeing double-digit growth in the last four weeks, with Bulgaria up 7% (+50% YoY, #5 global), Turkey down a substantial 47% (+46% YoY, #6 global), Portugal up 23% (+31% YoY, #7 global), Greece up 27% (+29% YoY, #8 global), Germany down 1% (+18% YoY, #10 global), and France down 5% to end at +13% YoY. The UK has had a terrible three months, falling 20% over the last four weeks to end at -54% YoY.

Countries Europe Retail Online 9 25 2020
Retail online trends by country (Europe: Romania, Slovenia, Portugal, United Kingdom) (week beginning September 21, 2020).

AOV growth in APAC retail e-commerce is better than the Americas, but only the top five countries in the region are above 0% with India climbing a massive 119% in the last four weeks to end at +127% YoY and #3 in the world. The next best country in the same time is New Zealand up 12% (+19% YoY and #9 global) and 108% below India.

The other three countries with positive AOV growth are South Korea up 36% (+10% YoY), Australia down 2% (+7% YoY), and China down a harsh 36% (+0.92% YoY).

The rest of the region runs from Taiwan down 8% in the past month for -1% YoY to Vietnam falling 81% to end with -22% YoY, the opposite of the country’s performance in pure e-commerce. 

Countries Apac Retail Online 9 25 2020
Retail online trends by country (APAC: India, New Zealand, South Korea, China) (week beginning September 21, 2020).

This article originally appeared by our friends at Emarsys.

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