Europe remains by far the most e-commerce-ready region, according to the UNCTAD’s 2020 Business-to-Consumer Electronic Commerce Index (B2C). Although it is necessary to address the large differences with the countries with the lowest level of readiness, addressing the shortcomings of those nations to extend the benefits of digital transformation to a greater number of people.
For the first time, Switzerland leads the UNCTAD B2C Electronic Commerce Index, just ahead of the Netherlands. In 2019, 97% of the Swiss population used the Internet. The only non-European economies in the top 10 are Singapore, which is in fourth place, and Hong Kong, China, in tenth position.
The index ranks 152 nations based on their readiness for online shopping, whose value is estimated at 4.4 trillion dollars worldwide in 2018, 7% more than the previous year.
Countries are scored based on access to secure Internet servers, the reliability of postal services and infrastructure, and the part of their population that uses the Internet and has an account with a financial institution or money service provider. mobile.
Developing countries: Asia leads the pack
The 10 developing countries with the highest scores are all from Asia and they are classified as high-income or upper-middle income economies.
At the other end of the spectrum, least developed countries occupy 18 of the bottom 20 positions.
The two largest markets for world’s B2C e-commerce, China and the United States, occupy positions 55 and 12 respectively in the index. Although both countries lead in several absolute measures, they lag behind in relative comparisons.
China breaks the highest historical record in the ecommerce sector
China has achieved that 44.8% of retail sales in 2020 come from the online channel, something that a year ago was seen very far from achieving. However, what is most relevant is that the forecasts for 2021 forecast that 52.1% of retail sales will come from e-commerce. It is the first time that such predictions have been made; and not only in the country, but worldwide.
For example, Internet penetration in the United States is lower than in any of the top 10 economies, while China ranks 87th in the world on this indicator. In terms of online shopping penetration, the United States ranks 12th, while China ranks 33rd.
“The e-commerce gap is still huge“, He said Shamika N. Sirimanne, Division Director, UNCTAD that produces the annual index. “Even among G20 countries, the extent to which people shop online ranges from 3% in India to 87% in the UK“.
Additionally, in Canada, the United States, and 10 European nations, more than 70% of the adult population shop online. But that proportion is well below 10% in most low- and lower-middle-income countries.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has made more urgent the need to ensure that the countries furthest behind are able to catch up and strengthen their readiness for e-commerce“Said the Mrs. Sirimanne. The index, he said, underscores the need for governments to do more to ensure that more people can take advantage of e-commerce opportunities.
“Otherwise, your businesses and your citizens will miss out on the opportunities offered by the digital economy, and they will be less prepared to face various challenges.He added.
Changes in the 2020 classification
The 2020 edition of the index includes some notable changes from the previous year. In the composition of lIn the top 10, Hong Kong, China has replaced Australia. Among the top 10 developing economies, Oman replaced Turkey.
The four largest increases in index scores were in developing countries: Algeria, Brazil, Ghana and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, whose scores increased by at least five points, largely due to significant improvements in postal reliability.
Costa Rica became the best performing country in the Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region, replacing Chile. Mauritius maintained the highest score in sub-Saharan Africa, while Belarus again scored the highest among the transition economies.
Special attention to Latin America and the Caribbean
The 2020 index focuses on the LAC region, which has 9% of the world’s population over 15 years of age and 11% of the world’s Internet users. However, the region’s share of online shopping globally was only 6% of the global total in 2019.
The UNCTAD report indicates that five countries represent 92% of online shoppers in LAC, much more than their share (72%) in the region’s population. The unreliability of the mail is the greatest infrastructural weakness of electronic commerce in the region, especially in the Caribbean.
As seen globally, COVID-19 has driven online shopping in the region. For example, 7.3 million Brazilians bought online for the first time during the pandemic. And in Argentina, the number of first-time online shoppers during the pandemic was equivalent to 30% of the 2019 online shopping base.