Shopify says its 'unprecedented' growth in 2020 points to bright e-commerce future

Shopify posits that the pandemic has jump-started the behavioral shift to e-commerce, and 2021 will only further that trend.

Shopify on Tuesday published its first annual Future of Commerce report, which aims to outline e-commerce growth throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. The report combines Shopify's global merchant and consumer data to outline trends and predict how the commerce landscape will shift in 2021 based on current consumer behavior.

Shopify said its own growth this year has been unprecedented -- new stores created on the Shopify platform grew 71% in Q2 2020 compared to Q1 2020, with a record number of merchants added to the platform in Q3.

Also: Shopify's Q3 shines as businesses go digital, build out e-commerce

Shopify's partner app ecosystem is also booming. By the end of March 2020, over 80% of Shopify merchants had used a third-party app to help run day-to-day operations, including tools for alternative shipping options, conversational commerce features, and shoppable social media. 

Overall, Shopify found that 92% of US consumers have shopped online since the start of pandemic, compared to 65% who have shopped in-store. Over half of consumers have shifted more of their spending online since March, with young consumers -- shoppers ages 18 to 34 -- leading that trend. These younger consumers are also more likely than other age groups to find products and shop them via social media, utilize new commerce tools and prioritize shipping.

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Contactless payments and non-contact pickup options are essential retail practices in post-pandemic shopping, Shopify found. The number of shops offering contactless payments on Shopify increased by 122% compared to the same period in 2019. Meantime, more than half of consumers are receiving items through local delivery and 64% of are using buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) or curbside pick up options more frequently. 

Shopify also said that Buy Now, Pay Later has grown in popularity among its merchants offering this service. These merchants reported a 60% increase in deferred payments since the start of the pandemic, with consumers from higher income households using the service more often. 

All of this is to say that the pandemic has jump-started the behavioral shift to e-commerce, and 2021 will only further that trend.

"There's a shift happening in the world of commerce, and we've all felt it," Shopify said in the report. "2020 has accelerated the industry by a decade, permanently altering the way entrepreneurs start, run, and grow businesses, as well as how consumers choose to shop and pay. We're on the brink of a new era of commerce."