E-commerce in Serbia has been steadily on the rise. Now, out of the havoc caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic to the trade and business of many brick-and-mortar stores, e-commerce and online stores have risen and are thriving.
According to the latest report of the on the use of information and communication technologies conducted in 2019 by the Bureau of Statistics of Serbia, the number of online shoppers grew by 33% that year. More than 1,800,000 citizens bought goods and paid for services online in 2019, 600,000 more than in 2018.
The citizens of Serbia most often bought clothes, household products, electronic equipment, books and tickets for cultural events. However, unlike some EU countries, where the process is done online from start to finish, domestic buyers still prefer to avoid modern technologies in payment.
COVID-19 has certainly made a mark in the landscape of e-commerce, both acting as a catalyst for the acceleration of e-commerce growth regarding the number of transactions, as well as changing the habits of consumers, who have also started buying and selling products online that had previously, in the minds of the consumers, been almost exclusively reserved for purchase in brick-and-mortar stores. The latest reports form the Serbia Chamber of commerce suggest that e-commerce doubled from March to July 2020 compared to the same period on 2019. The resistance of Serbian consumers to online payments has also been lifted to a large degree.
Seeing the scale of growth which Serbian e-commerce has experienced, it seems that the amendments to the Serbian Law on electronic commerce (the “Law”) in 2019 were timely and the effects COVID-19 has had on online trading will only serve to test their quality and provide feedback if further amendments are necessary in the near future.
Poland is no exception regarding the dynamic growth in e-commerce in retail trade, which growth has been further boosted by the pandemic. According to recent estimates, online sales will account for approx. 8% of all retail trade in Poland in 2020, compared to 5.4% in 2019.
According to Euromonitor’s data, the size of the Polish market for electronic transactions was estimated at only EUR 0.3 billion in 2004. By 2018, the market had grown to EUR 6.8 billion (the average annual growth rate in the 2004-2018 period was 22.5%), although some estimates indicate that the e-commerce market could be worth over EUR 11.4 billion this year.
Polish internet users are more willing to purchase goods/services not only in local e-stores (72% of Polish internet users covered by the Gemius e-commerce report for 2020 declared that they were customers of local e-stores, compared to 60% in 2019) but also in e-stores outside Poland (30% in 2020 vs. 26% in 2019).
The growing role of the e-commerce market has also led to actions by certain authorities aimed at adapting to this changing retail landscape. For example, the President of the Office for Competition and Consumer Protection has recently launched a new project called ‘Artificial Intelligence for Consumer Protection Empowerment’, co-funded by the European Commission. The project explores the possibilities of using AI to create tools that will help detect infringements of consumer law and which could be used by consumer protection authorities, e.g. detecting abusive clauses in T&Cs.