Despite the uncertainties, e-commerce players say they are confident for the future

Fevad conducted a survey on the morale of French e-merchants in 2022. The latter seems confident for the future despite the uncertainties.

The health crisis is not yet fully over, but the high vaccination rate (77.8 percent) reduces the risk of exacerbation of cases and also affects the re -launch of retail activities. Although e-commerce has done pretty well in the two years the pandemic has lasted, players in the sector have generated some uncertainty and have mixed opinions on the evolution of the market in 2022.

For the 11th consecutive year, the Federation of e-commerce and distance selling (Fevad) publishes results and trends from its survey on the morale of French e-merchants. While 65 percent say they are more or as optimistic as last year, 35 percent of respondents say they are less optimistic, which marked a clear break in 2021, when they were just eight percent.

Two-thirds of e-merchants remain confident in the future and this is reflected in the economic prospects for their business: 67 percent believe their turnover will grow and 45 percent want rising net margins. However, 15 per cent of them expect a decrease in their turnover for the year 2022, a number that rises to 21 per cent for net margin.

Other trends expected in 2022 by the leaders surveyed include: the growing development of second-hand (for 90 percent of them), the signing of strategic agreements between e-merchants / retailers (71 percent) and the continuation of concentration movements (64 percent).

E-commerce, a sector that will continue to recruit

Despite less optimism than in previous years, 54 percent of executives plan to increase their workforce and 37 percent believe they should keep the number of employees unchanged. In total, only 9 percent of e-merchants consider their workers at risk of dropping, which remains very close to the level posted in 2021, 7 percent. Forecasts show that e-commerce should, again this year, remain a provider of jobs for the French economy.

More than 50 percent of respondents believe the Covid crisis has accelerated investment. Half of them think the pandemic has slowed them down.

E-commerce priorities in 2022

This year, IT (IT, security) issues are at the top of e-retailers ’investment priorities, leading to CSR, logistics and marketing/advertising. Thus, 66 percent believe that their investments in computer systems will increase and 29 percent believe that they will remain stable. For CSR, 57 per cent of e-tailers expect investment to increase, a 2 per cent increase from 2021 while 31 per cent believe it will remain stable. Regarding logistics, they are more like 56 per cent, with an emphasis on eco-responsible delivery and packaging and finally 55 per cent for marketing and advertising.

Since social networks are one of the priority investment channels for e-merchants, continuity is important. 65 percent of respondents saw an increase in spending in this area.

In the medium term, innovation projects should focus on predictive marketing (64 percent have ongoing or future projects), site accessibility (61 percent); stock consolidation (59 percent up nine points); mailbox returns (42 percent) and connected parcels (40 percent). Conversely, interest in voice assistants and virtual reality continues to wane.

Reducing the risk of serious contamination is reviving an old e-commerce ambition, internalization, which is back on the agenda and companies seem ready to reschedule to seize new markets. Of the executives surveyed, 85 percent believe their revenue will grow globally over the next two years, up from 73 percent last year. So they are only five percent to judge that this one will go down. The desire for international expansion is clearly a priority for e-merchants and witnesses the dynamism of national players. Of the three preferred destinations, we will find Belgium, followed by Spain and Italy.

Concerns about political and economic developments

Political and economic news is the main source of concern for e-commerce leaders. Seventy percent say they are overly concerned about strains affecting supply chains, and in effect raising prices. Rising delivery costs, partly stemming from these tensions, are the second biggest concern mentioned by 60 percent of e-tailers. In third place, the decline in household consumption associated with the decline in purchasing power was an issue mentioned by 57 percent of managers.

To allay these concerns, there were also positive elements presented by the respondents. First, 70 percent of respondents are very positive about the ever-growing number of online shoppers, giving them hope for new opportunities. The second reason for optimism is the exponential growth of the mobile Internet, highlighted by 59 percent of managers. In third place, 51 percent rate the increasing digitization of physical players very positively.

Two weeks before the presidential election, two-thirds of executives believe it will have little impact on e-commerce, but 72 percent say the campaign does not address the industry’s challenges today. Among the expectations of leaders vis-à-vis the future President of the Republic regarding digital and e-commerce, leading to support companies in terms of investment and innovation (93 percent). This is followed by regulatory stability (91 percent), tax relief (88 percent) and cyber security (87 percent). They also mentioned the growing expectation for greater consultation with professionals. At the time of assessing the public action of the five-year period in terms of e-commerce, the government’s efforts were underlined compared to the past five years, particularly in terms of support and development of start-ups. (impact considered positive by 54 percent of executives, up 28 points), digital business transformation (42 percent; up 25 points), or in the field of global digital support (37 percent, up 28 points).

Overall, 88 percent of executives say they are optimistic about the future of their own company, a level similar to 2020, the year that marked the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The study, conducted by OpinionWay for Fevad and LSA, was based on a survey of one hundred managers of major French e-commerce sites. The survey took place from February 14 to March 4, 2022 with a panel of 104 e-commerce site managers. Fevad also noted that two-thirds of the responses were received after February 24, the date of the start of the invasion of Ukraine.

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