As we look at trends in average order value (AOV) this week, the data shows that consumers are spending less now than they were a month ago, and much, much less than back in May and June. The economic impact of COVID-19, ongoing unemployment around the world, and significant declines in household incomes combined are shrinking how much money consumers can afford to part with.
Pure e-commerce has fared better in many cases than small or medium-size retailers, but retail is by no means dead. In this week’s roundup, we’ll take a look at how retail brands are leveraging online shopping to offset dramatic declines in foot traffic.
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.
US E-Commerce Up 45%, but Retailers Are Not Out of the Woods
E-commerce boomed in the United States from April to June, but retailers are still challenged by decreases in in-store shopping. As reported in an Insights observation this week, real estate mogul Sam Zell recently said, “There is no question in my mind that retail is a falling knife, and we are for sure not at the bottom.”
That’s not to say that retailers cannot mitigate these declines. The answer is, of course, omnichannel e-commerce, which has forced retailers to accelerate their online options years ahead of schedule.
US e-commerce grew by a massive 45% in Q2, primarily because omnichannel retailers were able to accommodate online shopping. Looking at this from a market perspective, retail e-commerce has historically stalled around contributing 10% of all revenue (this is the flip side of the “90% of all retail sales happen in stores” mantra). Now according to the US Commerce Department, retail sales in Q2 2020 grew from 11.8% in Q1 to 16.1%
In some cases, retail e-commerce accelerated to achieve within six months what had previously been predicted would take up to five years to reach. Back in May, retail sales were up 18%, then fell to 7.5% in June, and on down to 1.2% in July, but in that same time, retail online exploded in growth.
This trend is not isolated to the US. As of August 23, 2020, online retail revenue in North America is up 71%, Europe is up 41%, and APAC is up 114%.
The In-Store Challenge for UK Retail
In the United Kingdom, retailers have suffered declining in-store traffic. Even after lockdown restrictions were lifted and consumers could visit brick-and-mortars again, in-store sales remained below the same time last year.
In July, brick-and-mortar sales were down 39% YoY, and though they’ve risen 7% since then, UK retailers should expect a slow rate of recovery. Highstreet retailers were among the hardest hit in July with -47% in foot traffic, up from -65% the previous month. The same was true for shopping centres with -42% in July, up from -62% in June.
One bright spot was that while retail sales were -37% YoY in June, overall UK retail rose up to +4% in July, primarily due to huge increases in grocery sales and home improvement equipment and tools.
Why is traffic still down YoY? A recent study by ChannelAdvisor and Dynata reveals that back in mid-June when shops opened again, 60% of the British shoppers surveyed did not shop in-store the first week out of lockdown. One reason respondents gave was a less-pleasing in-store experience, as reported by 40% of the shoppers who did visit a brick-and-mortar. The most frequent reasons given were due to how COVID-19 has changed being out in public. Specifically cited were long queues, the inability to try on clothes in-store, and a limited number of consumers allowed inside at one time.
While 67% of UK shoppers say they’re comfortable buying online, only 29% said the same for buying in-store. Retailers will have to lean further in to providing curbside pickup and delivery to accommodate cautious consumers.
Retail Sectors and Models Hurt Most
Retailers branded “essential” have an enormous advantage over “non-essential” industries like fashion, footwear, and other luxury items. Clothing and accessories sales were down 40% YoY in the first six months of 2020. Electronics stores were also devastated by the pandemic. Coresight Research predicts that between 20,000 and 25,000 brick-and-mortars may be permanently closed by the end of the year.
Part of what we’re learning is that big chain retailers (like Walmart, Home Depot, and Chipotle) with multiple locations are having a terrible time trying to engage local customers at scale. As many as 77% of these retail brands consider location marketing an “untapped opportunity,” where leveraging improved SEO, reviews, and social media attracts customers close to each store.
The biggest challenges? Limited resources to scale customer engagement, siloed operations, tech stacks that are hard, costly, and time-consuming to implement (especially for global retailers), and they often offer no overall performance analytics. As many as a third of retailers also have no location-based paid media strategy in place. All of these factors make it impossible to respond to changes in customer behavior in anything close to real time.
Retailers Target and Walmart Had Record-Breaking Q2 Earnings
Counter to all the doom of falling retail sales, some of the big box retailers are bringing in phenomenal results in the shift to digital, proving that e-commerce must become a larger revenue generator for retail.
Target had its best quarter ever in Q2 with $23 billion in revenue (+24% YoY) and $1.69 billion in profit (+80% YoY). Why? Because online purchasing shot up 195%, and same-day delivery and curbside pickup rose 273%. Already building up their online presence over the last several years, Target was ready and quickly reorganized their fulfillment and inventory processes to serve the explosion in BOPIS, with 1,500 stores now offering grocery pickup and bringing total curbside growth to 700%. All of this allowed them to acquire 10 million new customers in the first half of 2020.
Walmart also invested in BOPIS long before the pandemic, enabling them to expand grocery pickup by 30%. As a result, Walmart’s Q2 sales rose 97% YoY to $137.74 billion, following a strong +71% growth in Q1.
Of course, by being designated as essential businesses, Walmart and Target had a sizeable advantage over non-essential businesses, but at the same time, consumers still feel more confident purchasing from a local brick-and-mortar, in large part because of easy return policies, same-day delivery, and overall brand loyalty.
Data Insights for the Week
The Americas are nearly tied with Europe in pure e-commerce AOV growth YoY, and Ecuador has the best retail e-commerce AOV growth rate in the world, despite negative growth for everyone outside the top three.
AOV Increase Leaders at a Glance
In Europe, pure e-commerce AOV growth is lower than the other regions but still relatively stable overall, with most of the region above 0% YoY. Retail e-commerce AOV growth is more varied, with #1 Turkey at +94% YoY and #5 Germany at +19% YoY, a difference of 75%.
AOV Increase Leaders at a Glance
APAC pure e-commerce AOV growth is overall stronger than the other two regions with China dominating again just below 100% YoY. For retail online, APAC’s ahead of the Americas but a little below Europe, as we see Vietnam and China topping the list.
AOV Increase Leaders at a Glance
Top Product Trends of This Week
Key Product Trend Insights: Chocolate spread is up 898% YoY in uplift this week, making this the second week in row where a food product was #1. Other accelerators this week are tents for camping and chewing gum.
Growth Rate of Online Transactions
Consumer spending per order is down across the globe, though many countries are still eking out year-over-year AOV growth.
Trends by Region
Pure e-commerce: APAC has performed the best over the last two weeks, though Europe has caught up in recent days. Pure play in the Americas overall is struggling to get above 0%.
Looking at the average YoY AOV growth rate for the top five countries in each region, the Americas (+30.0%) and Europe (+30.5%) are neck and neck. However, the APAC’s top five average +43.8% YoY AOV growth.
Retail online: In the last two weeks, APAC retail e-commerce has become the best performing region in AOV growth, with the Americas falling off in the last week to below 0%; Europe’s even lower.
The average YoY AOV growth rate for each region’s top five countries shows the Americas on top with +65.8%, Europe with +47.2%, and APAC with +25.16%.
Trends by Country
Pure e-commerce: In the Americas, South American pure players are seeing good AOV growth, but North American consumers are spending less per basket.
Second in the world this week, Argentina has been the top performer in the Americas for the last eight weeks and declined only 0.27% in the last four weeks to end at +52% YoY AOV growth. In the same time, Colombia made a significant 20% gain (+44% YoY), Peru (+38% YoY) and Chile (+15% YoY) both rose 10%, followed by Canada up 8% (+0.85% YoY).
The Caribbean nations have fallen below 0%, though in the last month Brazil has gained 6% (+0.1% YoY) and the United States rose 8% (-1.65% YoY). Mexico, despite doing well in revenue gains over the last few weeks, has seen a 22% drop in AOV growth in the last month for -33% YoY.
Pure e-commerce AOV growth in Europe has improved in the last month, though YoY rates are shrinking. Topping the region, France (+35.95% YoY) steadily rose 3% in the last month to barely beat out Lithuania (+35.67% YoY), which rose 9%. Like Lithuania, some countries have held their place in AOV growth as many other countries saw declines: Denmark (+33% YoY) dropped only 1% in the last month, and Sweden (+24.94% YoY) dropped 7%. The biggest gainer of the top five is Norway (+24.8% YoY) up 14% in the last four weeks.
In the last month, modest gains were made by the United Kingdom (+16% YoY) up 3% and Italy (+3% YoY) up 2%. Two former top performers — the Czech Republic (+11% YOY) who fell 43% and Spain (+7% YoY) who fell 40% — dropped out of the top five.
Better overall than Europe, many countries in APAC saw pure e-commerce AOV growth in the last four weeks. At the top, China rose 64% to finish the week at +95% YoY, the best pure-play AOV growth rate in the world and 49% higher than Japan who fell 33% to finish at +46% YoY, the third highest rate in the world.
Rounding out the region in the last month, Taiwan made a significant turnaround to rise 47% (+39% YoY), India climbed 15% (+23% YoY), New Zealand rose 6% (+16% YoY), and Malaysia (up 21% for +13.66% YoY) and Australia (up 4% for +13.58%) are just outside the top 5.
Retail online: In the Americas, the top five countries have led the region for two months with Ecuador still at #1. Despite falling 29% in the last month, Ecuador has the highest AOV growth rate in the world this week with +114% YoY. That’s 68% higher than second place Brazil who rose 43% to finish at +46% YoY — spectacular news for the country after falling 96% in the previous month. Thirty percent lower than Brazil is Mexico (up only 2% in the last month for +16% YoY), followed by the only two countries in the region with negative growth that still remain inside the top five: the United States down 0.18% for -1% YoY and Canada down 5% for -6% YoY.
Though below 0% YoY growth, Peru rose 15% in the last four weeks (-18% YoY) and Colombia improved greatly, up 58% to finish the week at -10% YoY.
Retail e-commerce AOV growth rates in Europe are higher than they were a month ago, led by Turkey (up 40% in the last month for +94% YoY), the second highest AOV growth rate in the world.
In the same time, the Czech Republic rose 19% (+53% YoY), Bulgaria shot up 59% (+43% YoY) to make it into the top five for the first time since the pandemic began, Romania fell 48% (+27%YoY), Germany held on to +19% YoY, France rose 3% (+18% YoY), Serbia rose 9% (+15% YoY), Finland rose 2% (+12% YoY), and Portugal rose 11% (+8% YoY). However, the United Kingdom has only risen 5% in the last month to finish at -34% YoY.
AOV growth for APAC retail online has been good for most countries, with the exceptions of India, South Korea, and Thailand. At the top is Vietnam making an enormous comeback, up 41% in the last four weeks to finish at +60% YoY, the third highest rate in the world. Close behind is last month’s leader China up only 0.06% to finish at +37% YoY.
Twenty-five percent lower than #2 China, #3 Japan rose 7% in the last four weeks (+12% YoY), Australia rose 5% (+8.59% YoY), and India fell 15% (+8.21% YoY). Elsewhere, Taiwan rose 6% in the last month (+6.97% YoY), and New Zealand is back in the black rising 7% to finish at +6.75% YoY.