Since April 2020, the Polish economy has undergone rapid changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Restrictions for the traditional trade impacted the GDP, which was 2.8% lower than in 2019.
At the same time, the e-commerce market recorded dynamic growth, and according to estimates, in 2021, it has already exceeded the value of PLN 100 billion. It is now the 13th fastest growing e-commerce market in the world. It is estimated that the development trend will continue even until 2024.
Impact of the pandemic on the Polish e-commerce market
According to the data published by the Central Statistical Office, the situation of the online sales market is closely related to the restrictions introduced in the country. After the first cycle of restrictions imposed on brick-and-mortar stores in March 2020, the share of Internet sales in total retail sales (in current prices) increased from 5.6% in February to 8.1% in March.
During the first lockdown, online shopping became for many Poles an alternative considered safer and more convenient. According to the Gemius report, as many as 38% of Polish consumers chose online shopping to obtain the necessary supplies of food, hygiene, and chemical products. While 57% of Internet users shopped online in May 2019, the figure was 72% in the same month in the epidemic year of 2020.
After the partial lifting of restrictions for stores in December 2020, online retail sales were 4.1% lower than a month ago. Experts explain this decline also by possible consumer fears of delays in deliveries and shortages of goods, which caused Poles to make larger purchases online in November.
The situation of e-commerce sellers during the pandemic in Poland
From the perspective of the e-commerce industry, the beginning of the pandemic in Poland was a period of an increased number of orders in a short time and the influx of a new group of consumers – people who had not previously bought online. The changes resulted in the improvement of purchasing processes (e.g., introducing contactless payments without PIN up to PLN 100 and payments with the BLIK code).
Many companies that had so far only brick-and-mortar stores, faced with significant restrictions and likely further bans, started selling their products and services through their own online stores or marketplace platforms. In 2020, there were almost 11,800 thousand online stores, but more than 5,600 have already suspended their operations, and only 1.2 thousand have returned to the market.
Currently, there are approx. 150 thousand Polish companies selling on the Internet, and 1/3 of these companies are also present on the Allegro platform. Invariably in 2020 and at the beginning of 2021, the largest share in online sales was shown by companies from two groups: textiles, footwear, clothing and newspapers, books, and other specialized stores.
At present, the most recognizable online shopping platforms in Poland are:
Trends and forecasts for the Polish e-commerce market
The most important e-commerce trends in 2021 include:
- subscription sale,
- in-depth personalization of service,
- ecologically responsible shopping (re-commerce),
- meeting the needs of customers from the oldest age group (silver-commerce).
Experts indicate that the further development of the Polish e-commerce market may be positively influenced by launching the platform by Amazon Poland (which has the ambition to become the industry leader and the main competitor of Allegro and AliExpress), as well as introducing new payment methods enabling deferred payments (such as PayPo).
Forecasts for the e-commerce market predict an 11% increase in sales in digital channels in 2021. This value is expected to remain until 2024.
According to the predictions from the Digital Commerce360 report, by 2025 as many as 73% of sellers will derive most of their income from online sales. And the gross value of the Polish e-commerce market in 2026 is expected to amount to PLN 126 billion.
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Author: Kamila Nowak
„Signal information regarding information on sales dynamics, broken down into individual months of 2020 and 2021” (Informacja sygnalna w zakresie informacji dotyczących dynamiki sprzedaży w rozbiciu na poszczególne miesiące 2020 i 2021 roku), Central Statistical Office of Poland.
„E-commerce in Poland 2020” (E-commerce w Polsce 2020), Gemius.
„DigitalMarket Outlook 2021” (DigitalMarket Outlook 2021), Statista.
„E-commerce during the 2020 crisis” (E-commerce w czasie kryzysu 2020), Chamber of Electronic Economy.
„COVID-19 has changed consumer behavior” (COVID-19 zmienił zachowania konsumentów), KPMG Poland.
„Within 5 years, the e-commerce market in Poland will reach PLN 162 billion” (W ciągu 5 lat rynek e-commerce w Polsce osiągnie wartość 162 mld zł), PwC.
„Online sales in Poland in times of pandemic – trends based on data from Tradedoubler” (Sprzedaż online w Polsce w czasach pandemii – trendy na podstawie danych Tradedoubler), Tradedoubler.
„PayPo deferred payments: another argument to buy in the online store” (Odroczone płatności PayPo: kolejny argument, by kupować w sklepie online), Shoper.