Dutch, German and Norwegian online shopper base grows to ~80% and stays intact while online purchases stabilize; longer-term loyalty to online channels continues to grow in 2021

At AfterPay Insights, we have monitored the development of consumers online shopping behavior and the subsequent development of the e-commerce landscape from a consumer perspective for the past year. As of February 2021, we have conducted more than 78.000 interviews with consumers in the Netherlands, Germany and Norway.
In this analysis we focus on the inflow of new consumers to online channels, how this trend has developed over 2020 and into 2021, as well as the correlation to the overall growth of e-commerce.

Based on our long-term data set, we do in fact see a clear trend: consumers who switch purchases from brick-and-mortar to online stores in 2020 and into 2021 do not easily switch back.

This is evident as we see that even though online purchase volumes drop in the beginning of 2021 – a to be expected seasonal development – the e-commerce shopper base stays stable or even increases. The growth of the ‘Heavy Shoppers’ segment is a big contributing factor in this development. A nuance can be added when looking at the fact that the demographic displaying the highest shift from online from brick-and-mortar stores is to be found in the older age groups, substantiated in one of our earlier blogs ‘Top 6 Ways in whicfh consumer behavior impacts e-commerce in 2020’.

What does the inflow to e-commerce trend look like per country? And what are the shares of Light, Medium and Heavy Shoppers? What do the aforementioned aspects look like when placed against the backdrop of overall e-commerce growth and development? Read on to find out!

Inflow into e-commerce in The Netherlands

In the Netherlands, the e-commerce shopper base grows steadily from 64% of Dutch consumers in March 2020 to 79% as of February 2021. And even though the number of online purchases declines in the beginning of 2021 – from a peak of +88% growth rate (vs March 2020) in December to +70% in February 2021 – the online shopper base shows a strong stability at around 80% of Dutch consumers. During the online purchase peaks in April and December 2020, we primarily see a shift within the online shopper base, as existing online shoppers increase the number of online purchases. We also clearly see the gradual growth of the Heavy Online Shoppers segment. This supports our earlier findings that the overall growth of e-commerce is driven by a combination of consumers shifting purchases from brick-and-mortar to online stores as well as existing online shoppers becoming even more loyal to online channels.

Inflow into e-commerce in Germany

In Germany we see the same patterns as in the Netherlands. The online shopper grows by +9 percentage points in the past year, from 72% of German consumers to 81%. And the stability of the online shopper base is strong, particularly when taking note of the (expected) decline in online purchases during the beginning of 2021. Just like in the Netherlands, German online growth is driven by a combination of new shoppers just starting to buy online, combined with existing online shoppers buying even more online.

Inflow into e-commerce in Norway

In Norway, overall online purchase volumes are lower compared to Germany and the Netherlands – mainly due to the fact that the online shopper base is smaller. However, the online shopper base in Norway grows impressively during the past year: +25 percentage, to 72% of all Norwegian consumers in February 2021. And despite the expected decline in online purchases during the beginning of the year, the online shopper base even increases. The impressive peak in online purchases in December 2020 (at +86% compared to March 2020) is driven by the long-term switch of consumers to online in combination with the more short-term effect of existing online shoppers buying more: the Heavy Shopper segment peaks at 14% of Norwegian consumers in December.

What is next?

Coming soon is the April forecast for e-commerce in the Netherlands, Germany and Norway. Stay tuned.