Online shops can still maintain their activity but more than half respondents report problems in supply chain in their countries
Ecommerce Europe conducted a new survey among its National E-commerce Association members, covering the general situation per country and the overall effect of the Coronavirus outbreak on the e-commerce sector, with a specific focus on the status of logistics in the various states. The findings show that 93% of all respondents are in full or partial lockdown, meaning that citizens in those countries can only go out with some or very strict restrictions. However, in all cases, online shops are still allowed to maintain their activity. In more than half of the cases (60%), online shops experience problems in their supply chain. This could come from limitations in the import of problems from third countries, but also from general restrictions along the supply chain, for instance at production sites, leading to shortages of certain products.
For all respondents, the governments in their countries have approved or are in process of approving measures to finance (partial) unemployment. These measures range from up to 800€ per employee in Greece to 84% of net salary up to 5300€ in France.
Although it was expected that the closure of non-essential brick-and-mortar shops in many countries would lead to an increased pressure on online shops, only 27% of the respondents indicate this to be the case. In these cases, shops that close their physical stores, make a shift towards selling online, leading to a pressure on fulfillment on marketplaces.
Ecommerce Europe members that responded to the survey indicated significant pressure on parcel delivery operators in their countries. The findings show that for 60% of the respondents, a small negative impact on parcel delivery can be identified and for 33% even a strong negative impact. This is largely due to the increased pressure on the delivery operators resulting in delays. For instance, in Spain, there even has been a lock down of the postal service, leaving them limited to universal postal services. Private couriers are deciding individually to stay open or not. By the decree of the lockdown, delivery is allowed, but it is not considered an essential service (at least not for non-essential products). In contrast, in Switzerland, parcel delivery and postal services are considered part of the critical infrastructure. The government there seems to maintain it to keep a minimum of normality in these times. There also appear to be no public concerns around the safety of delivery.
In terms of cross-border delivery, 86% of respondents state that parcel delivery operators are not restricting or are being restricted to deliver abroad. Those that indicate that there have been problems, mention that this is largely due to the lack of flight connections.
More than half (64%) of respondents indicated that when brick-and-mortar shops are not allowed to open in their country, they are offering alternative options to deliver products to their consumers. Out of these respondents, in 78% of the cases, those brick-and-mortar shops start selling online.
E-commerce crucial to provide EU citizens with essential products
The e-commerce sector is vital during the current Coronavirus outbreak. With people increasingly being restricted to their homes, home deliveries allow people to minimize the risks to catch the virus. Online retailers provide citizens with essential products, it is therefore imperative to keep the borders open for cross-border product supplies and sales. Ecommerce Europe calls on the European Commission and Member States to ensure the free flow of goods and help delivery operators, online retailers, and in particular SMEs, to continue to carry out their essential function.
About the Ecommerce Europe survey
In the current crisis following the outbreak of the Coronavirus, information sharing is crucial. Countries can learn from the approach of others or prepare for more severe situations by taking precautions based on the lessons of other countries. Ecommerce Europe, being the European platform where many e-commerce actors come together, wants to facilitate the knowledge sharing. To achieve this, it is carrying out a weekly survey to gain insights into two aspects: first, the general situation in a country and the overall effect of the crisis on the e-commerce sector, and second, a specific topic that is chosen per week.
 A total of 15 National E-commerce Association members of Ecommerce Europe replied to this survey, covering 13 countries, due to the fact that there can be more than one association per country. The survey run from 24 to 27 March 2020.