It’s Christmas in June for eCommerce retail as the shift to Digital 3.0 continues to gain traction. The latest evidence for that shift comes from Adobe, whose Digital Economy Index for May shows holiday season spending levels taking hold with an emphasis on mobile commerce.
The report shows that online shopping levels during the pandemic’s strictest lockdown phase (April to May) were higher than what retailers saw during the 2019 holiday season (November to December). According to Adobe, consumers spent over $153 billion online ($70.2 billion in April and $82.5 billion in May), compared to the $142.5 billion spent online during November and December 2019.
By category, the report found that online grocery daily sales dropped as consumers cautiously head back to the supermarket. It saw a 14 percent downturn in May. Consumer electronics daily sales rose 11 percent and daily online apparel sales increased by 12 percent in May.
“COVID-19 has changed business forever,” says John Copeland, VP of customer and marketing insights at Adobe. “We think that over the next couple of months we will see an even bigger focus on experience-driven e-commerce, as the competition heats up where consumers are now putting so much of their attention online.”
The research also found a tilt toward mobile commerce. Consumers generally spent more time at home in May, but smartphone usage accelerated regardless. In fact, the share of online sales driven by smartphones actually increased with the spike in eCommerce activity. The share of products purchased through smartphones increased by 10 percent in May compared to pre-pandemic levels. Consumers who were shopping online for the first time did so through smartphones.
“When our team began digging into the May numbers, a lot of us expected that we’d be seeing a massive surge in desktop-driven commerce, since stay at home orders across the United States meant less people on the go,” Copeland says. “But we’re actually seeing that as consumers remain away from their office desks, they still opt to shop through their smartphones.”
The Digital 3.0 shift has been predicted by PYMNTS COVID-19 tracker work since mid-March. As reported in several versions of the PYMNTS COVID-19 tracker project consumers have a lot of conditions on when they will return, if ever, to pre-pandemic shopping behaviors. For example, more than half of the consumers (52 percent) who shifted to digital grocery shopping say they won’t go back to their old ways of shopping, as online delivery and curbside pickup are gaining ground. And 60 percent of the consumers who shifted to digital to shop for things other than grocery items say the same.
While the eCommerce momentum continues, PYMNTS CEO Karen Webster warned that the digital shift will take time.
“Although time is of the essence, digital 3.0 will take time to realize its full potential,” she writes. “Those who understand this will take a measured approach to capitalizing on this extraordinary opportunity by playing offense, not defense. Thinking strategically, not being reactionary. Being focused, not distracted by the clatter of the next big thing that underappreciates the effort required to scale and drive profits.”