Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: Coronavirus: Business and technology in a pandemic

Global Shopping Index report: E-commerce demand grew sharply in Q1 2020

The Salesforce​ Q1 2020 Shopping Index uncovers the true shopping story by analyzing the activity of more than one billion shoppers across more than 34 countries​, with a focus on key 10 markets. This battery of benchmarks provides a deep look into the last nine quarters and the current state of digital commerce during the COVID-19 pandemic. The index reveals the explosive growth of e-commerce across all geographies and key industries.

Coronavirus: No, the internet isn't collapsing because of all your extra traffic

This year will be the year that changed the trajectory of e-commerce, telemedicine, and remote work. March 2020 was the first time in US history that consumers bought more groceries online than in-store and by a large margin -- 22% more consumers shopped online for groceries in March. 

The Salesforce Q1 2020 Shopping Index uncovers the true shopping story through analyzing the activity of more than one billion shoppers across more than 34 countries powered by Salesforce Commerce Cloud, with a focus on key 10 markets: US, Canada, UK, Germany, France, Spain, Japan, Netherlands, Australia/New Zealand, and the Nordics. This battery of benchmarks provides a deep look into the last nine quarters and the current state of digital commerce. 

The Q1 findings illustrate how shoppers are practicing social and physical distancing by leveraging digital commerce channels to adapt to the new norm. The COVID-19 pandemic will significantly drive the adoption of e-commerce by both consumers and businesses around the globe. 

Here are some of the key findings of the Q1 2020 Shopping Index, compared to Q1 2019: 

  1. Twenty-percent growth in e-commerce revenue in Q1 2020 versus 12% in Q1 2019. COVID-19 cases were a leading indicator for digital shopping. For most of Q1 2020, digital commerce activity was tacking to 2019 trends. But as the pandemic awareness and social distancing practices grew, there was a 41% spike in digital revenue during the final 15 days of the quarter (March 15 to 31, 2020). 
  2. Web traffic in Q1 2020 grew by 16% as compared to Q1 2019
  3. Four percent shopper spend growth in Q1 2020 vs Q1 2019: average spent by shoppers per visit. Digital revenue grew by 51% for the Home Goods industry, 31% year-over-year (YoY) increase for Active Apparel, and a 34% YoY increase for Toys and Games.
  4. Mobile e-commerce traffic grew by 25% across all industries; US traffic grew by 28% in Q1 2020

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Digital

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Mobile traffic growth across all industries and in the US

5. Six percent of shoppers engaged with artificial intelligence-powered applications with product recommendations
6. AI product recommendations had a 26% AOV impact -- average lift in average order value (AOV) from shoppers that purchased a product as a result of an AI product recommendation

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E-commerce order and traffic share by device across all industries

7. Mobile phones represented 56% of total order share for Q1 2020
8. Mobile phones represented 71% of total traffic share for Q1 2020
9. Q1 2020 e-commerce conversion rates varied from 0.75% (apparel luxury) to 3.69% (health and beauty)

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Average order value (AOV) and discount rates - by country

10. Q1 2020 average order value (AOV) was $112.89 and the average discount rate of 22% (compared to 21% in Q1 2019. Discount rates in the US surged to 34% in mid-March -- higher than even the average 31% discount rate consumers enjoyed over Cyber Monday
11. Global e-commerce cart abandonment rate for mobile devices was 88%

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Global cart

12. Social media represented 8% of total traffic share with mobile phones and tablet usage on the increase 

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Social media traffic share of e-commerce is on the rise

The Q1 Shopping Index summary is an aggregate view of over one billion shoppers, 1,047 digital commerce sites, nearly two billion visits across 34 countries represented. Visit Shopping Index dashboards to dive deeper into the data and explore how this new normal will change consumer behavior even after the pandemic and the new norm. 

Consumers will likely continue to operate in a risk-averse mode once shelter-in-place mandates are lifted. Consumers and business buyers are likely to significantly grow their use of e-commerce in 2020 and beyond. A lesson in 2020 is that every business is a digital business and adoption of e-commerce is a critical success factor for all businesses, in all sectors and geographies.