Analysis: eCommerce Market: Slow but Steady Growth

An analysis conducted by MerchantPro – a local SaaS platform for e-Commerce solutions – based on data recorded by online stores active on the platform, indicates a smooth but stable increase in sales in the first quarter of the year by 5.4% compared to the same period last year. This indicates a slowdown in the growth rate in eCommerce, but maintains a positive and sustained dynamic.

The local eCommerce market has reached the age of maturity – year by year, the increases are no longer spectacular, as we were accustomed. However, the market continues to grow steadily. The competition, on the other hand, is growing rapidly, especially from strong international competitors, including players from non-EU areas like Shein or Temu, whose rise is accelerating globally. In this context, merchants need to rely on an agile approach, new technologies such as automation, AI, personalization solutions, and expand their operations both horizontally and with new verticals. Concurrently, customer loyalty, brand building, and optimization of internal operations must become a focus to support strategic long-term development,” states Arthur Rădulescu, CEO of MerchantPro.

According to the analysis on data recorded by active online stores both in 2023 and in the first quarter of 2024, the January-March period registered an average sales increase of 5.9%, compared to the same period last year.

Regarding the number of orders placed by customers in this quarter, the growth remains moderate, at +5.4%, with the largest increase recorded in February 2024, when 14% more orders were placed than in February 2023.

At the sector level, the positive dynamics are maintained in emerging online sales segments, such as Jewelry, Beauty and Personal Care Products, and the Pharma sector, where there is high adoption that increasingly attracts pharmacies to online retail.

The Pharma segment has special needs, dictated by the legal regulations for the sale of medications, but it is a niche with huge potential and in a larger zone of safety, not being affected by competition from major non-EU retailers. We have developed on MerchantPro specific functionalities for this market segment, such as integrations with dedicated ERP systems for Pharma and modules that ensure compliant non-prescription drug sales – OTC. These, alongside the extended functionalities from the platform, have allowed us to attract more pharmacies this year,” says Arthur Rădulescu.

eCommerce Market: Resilience through Automation, Superior Experience, and Customer Loyalty

The general context, marked by inflation and strong competition from non-EU players, whose strategy relies largely on very low prices, strongly influences the dynamics of the eCommerce market this year. Merchants in Romania, as well as at the European level, are investing increasingly in areas that can differentiate their businesses and make them more adaptable and capable of facing external challenges. The areas most merchants are focusing on this year are improving the purchasing experience through complete superior services, loyalty and rewards programs, automation of internal processes to increase order processing speed and reduce human errors, AI integration, and diversifying sales channels through approaches like marketplaces, internationalization, or omnichannel.

The major factors influencing the market in 2024 are artificial intelligence, automation, increased competition, and changes in digital marketing. Each of these requires flexibility and a high capacity for adaptation from merchants, which is why I believe this year success will belong to players who manage to maintain an agile approach,” adds Arthur Rădulescu.

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