In a year of changes, the biggest shift in retail has been the rapid growth and acceleration of ecommerce. During the pandemic, ecommerce has become the favored buying method for shoppers across generations, especially for those who were reluctant to go out and preferred the safety of delivery or curbside pick-up. The Q3 U.S. retail forecast, as reported by eMarketer, predicts an ecommerce jump of more than 30% year over year.

The Growth Of Ecommerce Led To Online Sales Levels Previously Not Expected Until 2022

The needs of the pandemic and shifting consumer behaviors have accelerated online shopping by nearly two years, with 2020 sales matching those previously not anticipated until 2022. “U.S. ecommerce sales will reach $794.50 billion this year, up 32.4% year over year. That’s a much higher growth rate than the 18.0% predicted in our Q2 forecast, as consumers continue to avoid stores and opt for online shopping amid the pandemic,” explains eMarketer. It is likely that this shift in buying behavior will last beyond the pandemic, changing the advertising priorities for many publishers, brands and retailers, and requiring many to quickly ramp up their ability to meet ecommerce demands.

The Leaders In Ecommerce, Including Amazon And Target, Have Seen Tremendous Gains During The Ecommerce Boom

“We’ve seen ecommerce accelerate in ways that didn’t seem possible last spring, given the extent of the economic crisis,” said Andrew Lipsman, eMarketer principal analyst at Insider Intelligence. “While much of the shift has been led by essential categories like grocery, there has been surprising strength in discretionary categories like consumer electronics and home furnishings that benefited from pandemic-driven lifestyle needs.”

Many shoppers turned to ecommerce retailers they trust, like Amazon, as online shopping increased during the pandemic. In 2020, Amazon’s share of the ecommerce market is expected to grow to 39.0%. Other notable retailer news is with regard to Target and Best Buy, both of which are predicted to grow their ecommerce sales by more than 100% in 2020, largely because of their robust curbside delivery options, and likely, effective local targeting.

The Future Of Retail Is Ecommerce, With Publishers, Brands And Retailers Staying Ready To Adapt To Evolving Behaviors

After what could have been a disastrous year for retail overall, the rise of ecommerce will help salvage the bottom line. “Online shopping is so strong that it will more than offset the 3.2% decline in brick-and-mortar spending this year, which will drop to $4.711 trillion. As a result, total retail sales in the US will remain essentially flat,” reports eMarketer.

What happens to retail moving forward will likely be two stories, each requiring publishers, retailers and brands to stay tuned in to consumer behaviors and economic realities. One story has many consumers continuing the online shopping habits they’ve acquired during the pandemic because of convenience, loyalty and incentives they may have acquired during the pandemic shopping period. The other retail story has consumers returning to some brick-and-mortar shopping for showrooming and combining online and offline shopping for deals and simplicity, much like it was before the pandemic. The difference post-pandemic will be how publishers, brands and retailers respond to the ecommerce boom and their readiness to meet shifting needs, including consumer preference for mobile buying and the blurred line many shoppers walk between online and offline buying. For now, ecommerce will continue to dominate, and publishers and brands that meet that challenge will come out on top in 2020.

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