Reports Trends

E-commerce in the time of the coronavirus outbreak: statistics

It goes without saying that the coronavirus outbreak has already changed a lot in the economy, not only in the DACH region. Many industries and businesses had to rethink their strategy and adjust their communication to better suit and serve their clients in these turbulent times. 

Ecommerce Europe decided to conduct a special survey among its National E-commerce Association members. The survey covert the general situation per country, forecasts and current effects when it comes to the COVID-19 outbreak on the area of e-commerce.

Results below are based on 20 answers collected from national e-commerce associations, company members and business partners between 17 and 19 March 2020.

The first report was released on the 19th of March and is available here, the final version with the detailed country breakdown is accessible here.

Below, you can find a few findings worth familiarizing with.

The coronavirus outbreak concerns everyone in the industry

That’s true: everyone in the industry has been affected by Coronavirus, in the direct or indirect way. The sector took a hard hit and the effects will be seen for a long time from now, and the survey only proves this point. 

Delivery delays as the major logistics problem

Currently effective delivery delays and announced delivery delays or supply disruptions have been recognized as those concrete effects that the pandemic currently caused. The third place in this infamous ranking is taken by “fewer orders by customers”, follower by delays in the product range planning due to travel restrictions. That was the state as of 19th of March.

Upcoming effects for staff and sales

As it was aforementioned, the coronavirus outbreak will give a solid mark on the economy, and businesses know that the changes are coming and are inevitable. Among many possible effects that the crisis can have on the industry, there are three results that are expected by 65% or responders in the final version of the survey.

Decline in sales, partial or complete closure of business during quarantine measures and release of staff come to the lead, but also financing problems are recognized by 60% of responders. Delivery delays are still mentioned as a problem but “only” by 55% of those who responded to the survey. 

Profiting and suffering industries: seven to recognize

Another question concerned the industries that took the biggest hit when it comes to the outbreak, and the answers clearly followed some paths. The respondees recognized the industries below as the most beneficial ones or those who were hit real hard:


• Healthcare 

• Grocery retail 

• Consumer electronics 


• Tourism 

• Transport 

• Physical retail 

• Event industry

It’s hard to disagree especially with the suffering industries, with more of them coming to the list. It’s also needless to say that regional economical moves will be crucial for those sectors and how they come back into life when the dust settles down.

No (visible) tension in the retail, yet

The tension is not visible yet in terms of online and offline retail, but this chart will be definitely interesting to follow. Some sub-sectors of business have successfully moved to online, others could probably handle the online sales if not for the closed warehouses, while there are still businesses that simply cannot move online… yet.

Dynamic change in terms of deliveries

As for the 19th of March, only 12% of responders said that packages delivery is not possible in the current situation in their country, however, since then, many countries went on complete lockdown, causing huge trouble for deliveries – especially those international ones. 

The screenshot coming from the final report proves it – changes happened or are expected to happen anytime soon.

E-commerce in full swing?

Will we see sales growth or sales decrease in each country? The experts who responded to the survey are not sure yet, however, 73% of them see the decrease of sales coming in their countries. 20% (multiple choice was allowed) see even a complete lack of sales when it comes to non-food online sales.

Moving business from offline to online

For many businesses, this turbulent time is also a perfect time for moving the business FINALLY to the world of online. Some of them didn’t have time to do it before the coronavirus outbreak came to mess with the economy, some of them simply didn’t want to do it. 

Now, many of them are left without any other choice – if they want to generate money, they need to move online and try reaching their target groups using this channel of communication

This applies mainly to the hospitality / food industry, so they try benefiting from online platforms, crowd delivery, take-away and pick up services.

It’s all about the decline

The year 2020 will be marked in history as the year of huge declines. The decline in sales due to lower demand and decline in sales due to a lack in stocks have been recognized as one of the biggest financial impacts for the entire year. However, what is striking the most, is the percentage of those voting for the decline in earnings due to lower sales: a whopping 70% suggested that this will be the financial impact they could expect.