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Two waves of the pandemic have driven annual growth of e‑commerce to 26%, Czechs have spent 196 billion crowns in online shops.

07. 01. 2021 | Adéla Berková

Czechs spent 196 billion crowns on the internet in 2020, which is 26% more than in the previous year. This information is provided by the shopping advisor Heureka.cz and the Association for E‑Commerce (APEK). The coronavirus pandemic changed the behaviour of Czech customers in the online sector: from the timely transition to contactless payments through to the inclination to trust when buying from bigger and more credible online shops. Following the closure of retail outlets, new online shops appeared as a new sales channel, often as a complement to high street stores. In total on the Czech market, there are approximately 49,500 online shops. The segments of books, movies, and games (+ 47%), food (+ 45%) and sport (+ 43%) were the biggest climbers in terms of annual increases. These and many other statistics can be found in the annual analysis of e‑commerce in the Czech Republic, which was carried out by the shopping advisor Heureka.cz.

Closed high street stores played into the hands of online shops

"Czech e‑commerce has flourished since the beginning of the year with annual growth in January and February being more than we expected. The „hockey stick“ effect, a sharp increase in comparison with the previous period and last year, was seen in March and April. A similar situation then occurred again with the arrival of autumn. The extreme numbers in this period were due to the combination of the lockdown and Christmas, which is the busiest season, „stated Tomáš Braverman, Director of shopping advisor Heureka.cz, adding: "Due to the closure of high street shops, customers made the switch to online which, for some of them, was their first experience with online shopping. It was also reflected in the behaviour of customers – in the selection of online shops, payments and delivery.“

Of more than 163 million unique searches on the Heureka portal in the past year, the most searched-for phrase was (unsurprisingly) "FFP3 respirator" with a total of 400,000 searches.

Turnover of e‑commerce in the Czech Republic in 2020 (in billion CZK)

Year on Year

196

+ 26%

In terms of turnover, the strongest day of the previous year was Friday, November 27, known as Black Friday, followed immediately by Sunday, November 29 and Monday, November 30. "This year the crucial days of e‑commerce came relatively early, traditionally the peak season being from Black Friday until mid-December. It is evident that customers did not want to leave shopping until the last minute,“ Tomáš Braverman said.

Jan Vetýška, Director of the Association for E‑Commerce (APEK), added to this information: "The record revenues which were achieved did not come for free. Czech online shops were able to adapt quickly and cope effectively with the unexpected high demand at the most critical periods. As a result, customers who until then had not used online shopping, gained positive experiences of online shopping and will continue using it in the future.“

Confidence in the brand was also important, and the existence of a high street shop was seen to be an advantage too

„With the forced move to online shopping, customers started to place a much greater emphasis on brand awareness and the credibility of the shop. The big advantage, especially at the end of the second wave of the pandemic, was with the online shops that also had high street stores and customers could take advantage of these as pick-up points, a way of shopping known as click and collect,“ explained Thomas Braverman from Eureka.

Government measures and restrictions on personal contact in the spring also had an influence on the payment methods that customers used. "Payment by cash on delivery dropped to zero due to the measures in the spring and payment online had to be tried by almost all customers of online shops, „said Tomáš Braverman with regard to the spring situation and continued:“ The actual numbers at the present time, however, have not changed significantly, and the use of online payment and cash on delivery are at similar levels as last year.“ The share of cash on delivery from online shops is 29%, payment by credit card 26%, payment during in store collection is 29%.

Payment methods in online shops – current share

2020

Cash on delivery

29.00%

Online payment by credit card

26.00%

Payment by bank transfer

8.00%

Payment button

4.00%

Paypal, instalments and other

4.00%

Payment in store

29.00%

In addition to customers, sellers also moved online

Although some online shops disappeared last year, many new online shops were opened, on the other hand, as a result of the corona crisis, either as brand-new online shops or often as an additional sales channel for already-established high street stores. The total number of online shops on the Czech market is estimated by Heureka at 49,500.

"This year, we originally expected a slight consolidation due to the corona crisis and the need for retailers to move their activities into the online sector, but the number of online shops again saw another annual increase. If we are talking about the whole market for online shops, also counting small retailers with perhaps only dozens of orders per month, we estimate that the Czech market has roughly 49,500 online shops, „stated Braverman. Not all online shops, however, benefited from two waves of 'lockdowns'. "From our extensive survey of online shops, we know that a third of e‑commerce retailers registered a negative impact on their business from the situation. Everything, of course, depended on the range of products and their individual high street shops.“

Everything was purchased on-line. A sharp increase was reported in food, we wanted to make the most of our free time

Massive growth was recorded in the segment of food and foodstuffs, which grew by 47%. "People were also looking for ways to entertain themselves at home and fill their leisure time. Therefore, segments such as films, books and games, food and sports saw significant growth, as did homewares and gardening supplies,“ Tomáš Braverman said. On the other end of the scale came clothes and generally more luxurious accessories, jewellery, and perfume.

Segment

year-on-year growth %

Movies, books, games

47%

Food and beverages

45%

Sports

43%

Home and garden and furniture

38%

Sexual and erotic aids

37%

White goods

35%

Children’s goods

30%

Electronics

28%

Health & Beauty

25%

Clothing and fashion

22%

Building materials

17%

Hobby

12%

Automotive

7%

Of course, the big climbers include categories such as disinfectants, cleaning products, cleaning gloves and thermometers. "In addition to these categories, as one would imagine, break makers occupied a prominent position, for this activity dominated the first wave of the pandemic. During the second wave it was webcams. Interest in products that make the time people are forced to spend at home more pleasant is confirmed by categories such as painting by numbers or e‑books,“ added Tomáš Braverman. The best-selling e‑books are Prak (Slingshot) by Michal Vrba, 40 dní pěšky do Jeruzaléma (40 Days on Foot to Jerusalem) from Ladislav Zibura and To prší moře (The Sea is Raining) by Radka Trestikova.

Jan Vetýška of APEK added: "Compared to the past, customers have started to buy general consumer goods. Food and dry goods, as well as medicines have been in high demand. In these categories, we see great growth potential in the future, because they are still becoming more widely available to residents outside the big cities. The development of online sales also helps to offer an ever-wider choice in the method of delivery of goods, including the hugely popular personal pick-up.“

TOP year-on-year climbers on the Internet

Disinfectant

Bread makers

Webcams

Thermometers

Cleaning gloves

Painting by numbers

Scarves

E-books

Vibrators

Books

E-commerce next year? Maintaining growth will be extremely difficult

„The year 2020 was really extreme. Online players were lucky that the corona crisis played into their hands. Nobody knows what will happen next year, but it cannot be assumed that this trend will be sustainable – quite the contrary. Even if people learn to trust online shopping a bit more, they will be saving more and spending in every household will be monitored, and therefore it will be a great challenge this year to match the previous one,“ added the head of shopping advisor Heureka.cz, Tomáš Braverman.

Jan Vetýška concluded this topic as follows: "We expect that 2021 will bring further success to Czech e‑commerce, although maintaining the pace of growth will be exceedingly difficult. We believe that the positive experience with online shopping from this year will be crucial for further development and customers will still widely use online shops. "

Heureka.cz

Heureka.cz is the largest shopping and price comparison portal on the Czech and Slovak market. Heureka is visited by more than 4.2 million real users (NetMonitor) monthly and stably ranks among the 10 most visited sites in the Czech Republic. Heureka customers select and compare product offerings from more than 38,000 on-line stores. Heureka helps people buy easily, safely and with a good overview.

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