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June 25, 2022

VTEX Romania analysis: Evolution of ecommerce in Romania in 2021

  • The number of stores with over 1.000 orders per day will triple in the next 3 years
  • Retailers and malls will shift to online and marketplace business models, to ensure the survival of the sector, according to Veranda Shop Online
  • Card payments will grow up to 39%, including the rural area, according to PayU data
  • Shopping experience will be enhanced by AI technologies, according to Zitec
  • Home & Deco, pharma and fashion, the categories with the highest increase in 2021

Romania is experiencing an accelerated digitalization process, with direct effects on traditional retail, which will migrate more and more to online commerce. After a leap counting for at least 3 years in 2020, ecommerce will continue its evolution and will register an increase of at least 15% in 2021, providing an optimistic perspective for local stores.

“At this point, the local market has no more than 100 online stores that are registering over 1.000 orders per day, but in the next 3 years their number will triple, based on five trends of digital transformation which will define local ecommerce”, states Cristi Movilă (photo), Growth Leader Eastern Europe VTEX.

“We will witness an even larger acceleration and a more powerful growth of investments in digitalization, technology and services from the established players on the market. The ecommerce market is still at the beginning, same as the services and the shift towards innovation and offline experiences, thus a huge potential arises. Also, in the medium term, the market will “settle” and center around several marketplaces, as the global trend is to consolidate the shopping cart from only one place. The consumers will develop favorite shopping destinations and will wish to place all their orders from that sole place”, adds Cristi Movilă.


  1. Retailers and malls will shift to online and omnichannel business models


The malls will shift towards omnichannel business models and strategies to support the commerce affected by the pandemic and ensure the survival of the sector.

If before the pandemic most of the retailers took privilege in their own sales channels, to better supervise the shopping experience of the client and the brand, nowadays marketplaces are becoming a very good solution for small and medium retailers. Commercial terms have become more attractive for the sellers, and technological enhancements provide better and better tools, from marketing to logistics, so that retailers are seeking to be present on as many sales channels as possible, in addition to their own stores and websites. On the other hand, we will also witness the emergence of new marketplaces, supported by the big retailers, who are shifting to a superior development stage and wish to offer their clients access to a rich range of products.

In this regard, Veranda Shop Online aims to „attract at least 70 tenants on the platform, who are not physically present in the mall, from the entrepreneurial area and niche products, non mass-market. The Romanian designers and manufacturers have been one of the most affected categories by the pandemic. More expensive products, with plus value, or even niche ones, mostly sold offline in showrooms and contexts strongly marked by the lived, sensory experiences, could hardly cope with a forced digitization for which there were no adequate resources, both in terms of technology and know-how”, says Andreea Onofrei, Project Manager Veranda Shop Online.


  1. Increased card payments and mobile shopping


In 2021, the adoption of Internet mediated communication solutions grew, due to teleworking and online schooling. Thus, the penetration rate of Internet services also grew and will attract a 33% increase in traffic from connected computers and 12% for mobile equipment. Romania experiences thus a context that favors the adoption of ecommerce.

Moreover, PayU data show an increase in the adoption of card payments: the introduction of the extra security measures, according to the PSD2 directive, alongside other solutions, such as the “instant money back” return option, in 20 minutes since the return is confirmed, or the option of safely paying with just one click, have increased the confidence in this type of safe payments method.

Elena Gheorghe, Country Manager PayU Romania: “The penetration rate of online payments has grown by 50%, reaching 36% in 2020, with some retailers reporting an above 50% maximum. For 2021, we expect a 39% share. People spend now more time online, so online shopping is more accessible. Some users have moved from crowded cities to rural areas; therefore we expect to register an increase in card payments from also these areas”.


  1. Better online experience due to digitization


In order to offer customers a better online experience, but also to replace the physical interaction with the product, businesses will invest in the integration of operations management solutions equipped with AI, which allows the optimization of costs and logistical efforts. AI technologies also increase the quality of services provided and contribute to the development of a better shopping experience.

“In each area, a proper implementation of AI models shows us how the end user can receive a much better quality of service, and e-commerce does not make a discordant note here either, the improvement brought by AI being significant compared to classical approaches. In practice, when we implemented AI models, we noticed sales’ increases, because customers could get to products that convinced them more easily, generating an increase in the conversion rate of recommended products: for products from the Fashion range we noticed increases of 250% or an overall conversion of over 2% for cosmetics, ”said Alexandru Lăpușan, CEO and co-founder of Zitec.


  1. Social commerce: interaction mediated by social networks


Social networks are accessed by a growing number of users, so they are gaining an increasingly important role in the sales strategy. Also, according to Veranda Shop Online, live shopping will also develop in Romania, acting as a lever that mixes online and offline interaction. This shopping method will be more valuable especially for niche products.


  1. Home & deco, pharma and fashion – the star categories in 2021


In order to increase their sales and give customers access to products from various categories, merchants will partner in collaborative trading platforms, and thus be able to cover a wider range of needs and services. 2021 will bring organic growth in categories such as home & deco (stimulated by maintaining remote working and learning), pharma and fashion.


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