Back from the Boom: E-Commerce Opportunities Amid Uncertainty

June 2023

As e-commerce growth rates slow from historic highs, the online channel is no longer a rising tide for all categories and brands. While potential exists with e-commerce accounting for 50% of retail’s expected growth in the next five years, retailers and brands will have to become savvier as they search for the next opportunity. Learn how to capitalise on these pockets of growth.

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This report comes in PPT.

Key Findings

E-commerce growth normalising after intense period of expansion

Coming off pandemic highs, e-commerce growth is normalising. E-commerce will remain a dominant force. This shift to online is driving a structural shift in the industry that will redefine how the industry operates and establish new guidelines for what it will take to win.

A weak economy will further dampen the trajectory of e-commerce

The global economy will see a significant downturn in 2023 with inflation rates improving but still remaining higher than historical trends. Consumers and businesses continue to feel the squeeze of rising prices across all channels with e-commerce no longer immune to some of these wider economic forces.

Selling online has never been more challenging

With competition increasing in the online channels, retailers and brands must find ways to stand out. In more advanced e-commerce markets, e-commerce platforms are becoming more polished as retailers and brands deploy new tactics to reach and engage shoppers. Some of these new approaches focus on customising, elevating and gamifying the customer experience.

Many paths to growth lead through China and the US

Although there are e-commerce growth opportunities across many markets, it is hard to deny the impact of China and the US. Each stands in its own right as an online behemoth as well as home to the e-commerce giants shaping this channel and the future of retail. More broadly, an economic power shift is underway, and e-commerce is no exception. E-commerce growth is increasingly being powered more by emerging markets with China playing an undeniable role.


Key takeaways
Exploring Back from the Boom: E-Commerce Opportunities Amid Uncertainty
Is e-commerce growth nearing a ceiling?
Back from the Boom: E-Commerce Opportunities Amid Uncertainty
Global e-commerce growth is normalising
Case Study: becomes one of dozens of Chinese websites to be shuttered
COVID-19 levels up e-commerce
E-commerce growth is no longer guaranteed
E-commerce normalisation is set against the backdrop of an economic downturn
E-commerce is no longer immune to inflationary pressures
Case study: Aldi builds out its own online platform as e-commerce becomes more important
Online platforms that enable consumers to better budget see growth in downturn
Case study: H&M is one of many apparel retailers launching their own resale websites
Case study: Buo touts that consumers can save up to 30% via group-buying model
E-commerce is no longer exempt from economic realities
Digitalisation continues to rewire the retail sector
New business models change the rules of the game
How consumer expectations continue to evolve
Emerging channels lead to new ways to engage
Retailers and brands challenged with finding ways to stand out
Case study: L’Oréal uses sound to recreate the sensory experience of scent digitally
E-commerce players struggle with how to stand out
Many paths towards e-commerce expansion routes through China or the US
Case study: differentiates itself in China with its robust logistics capabilities
Foods e-commerce remains a key category to watch in the US as Walmart extends lead
Amazon gaining share on Flipkart in several fast-growing categories
Latin America emerges as e-commerce growth engine
E-commerce growth remains possible even amid economic uncertainty
Key takeaways
Charting a path forward amid the wider retail revolution
What will it take to win?
Evolution of e-commerce market
Questions we are asking
Watch industry experts debate the future trajectory of e-commerce
About Euromonitor’s Syndicated Channels Research


Retail is the sale of new and used goods to consumers from a business for personal or household consumption from retail outlets, kiosks, market stalls, vending, direct selling and e-commerce. Retail is the aggregation of Retail Offline and Retail E-Commerce. Excludes specialist retailers of motor vehicles, motorcycles, vehicle parts. Also excludes fuel sales, foodservice sales, rental transactions, and wholesale sales (e.g. Cash and Carry). Sales value excluding or including VAT/Sales Tax. Retail also excludes the informal retail sector. Informal retailing is retail trade which is not declared to the tax authorities. Informal retailing encompasses (a) sales generated by unregistered and unlicensed retailers, i.e. retailers operating illegally, and (b) any proportion of sales generated by a registered and licensed retailer that is not declared to the tax authorities. Unregistered and unlicensed retailers operate predominantly (although not exclusively) as street hawkers or operate open market stalls, as these channels are harder for the authorities to monitor than permanent outlets. Activities in the illegal market, which is usually understood to refer to trade in illegal, counterfeit or stolen merchandise, are included within our definition of informal retailing. Activities in the “grey market”, which is usually understood to refer to trade in legal merchandise that is sold through unauthorized channels – for example cigarettes bought legally in another country, legally imported, but sold at lower prices than in authorized channels – will be included as informal retailing if no tax is paid on sale by the retailer. However if the retailer pays tax – for example on cigarettes bought legally in another country but sold at a lower price than standard – the sale is included within formal retail.

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