2020 will be the year of e-commerce

E-commerce has become the biggest driver of growth in the Logistics sector, experts agreed at Real Asset Media’s European Logistics: e-commerce, supply chains and investment locations briefing, which took place online this week.

‘E-commerce has moved from niche to mainstream,’ said Jean-Luc Saporito, Chief Development Officer, P3 Logistic Parks. ‘The momentum was already there, but Covid-19 has accelerated this trend by five years, increasing internet adoption and smart working but also online shopping. I predict 2020 will be the year of e-commerce’.

In the long weeks of lockdown European customers have been forced to buy online, some for the first time. 

During the period of restrictive measures ‘every day was Black Friday for Amazon and grocery retailers,’ said Logan Smith, Managing Director, Aevitas Property Partners. ‘Retailers have said that the war is over and Amazon won’. 

Success brings its own problems, from inventory management to staff availability to supply chain issues, but the point is that for many consumers there will be no going back to old habits.

‘For us it has been like Christmas for two months running,’ said Raimund Paetzmann,Vice President Corporate Real Estate, Zalando. ‘Obviously people will rush to the shops once they re-open, but online shopping will continue at high levels’.

A snap poll conducted among delegates shows that 53% believe e-commerce penetration will remain high after the crisis and grow further, while 46% think that levels will drop back from current levels but remain higher than before the pandemic. Only 1% believe the market will return to pre-crisis levels.

‘Online sales are now 30% of the total but there is no doubt that e-commerce is set to grow further,’ said Ben Segelman, Head of Capital Markets UK&I and MLEMEA, DHL Supply Chain. ‘The epidemic has shown the extent to which people rely on online shopping’.

E-commerce has a lot of room to grow in Europe: across the Continent 63% of consumers buy online, with a peak of 87% in the UK at one end, along with Denmark at 84%, and a low of 23% in Romania, just below Italy at 38 per cent. 

‘In Italy 62% of people are still not buying online, so there is huge potential given the size of the economy’, said Anita Simaza, Head of Logistics & Industrial, Europe Europe Capital Markets , BNP Paribas Real Estate.

The country is an example of the acceleration caused by the epidemic. ‘Italy has seen a 300% growth in online sales during the lockdown,’ said Saporito. 

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