E-commerce, which has shown a tendency to grow before the COVID-19 that swept the world, experienced a sharp rise in the first two months of the outbreak and the pandemic accelerated the transformation of e-commerce according to Nielsen Turkey CEO Didem Şekerel Erdoğan.
What are the reflections of the COVID-19 pandemic in the food retail industry?
The growth in the FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) sales, which was 20 percent before the pandemic, went up to 37 percent.
In general, e-commerce in Turkey was already rising even before COVID-19 and has performed a strong growth in the country in recent years. Online retail sales recorded 43 percent of value growth in 2019, compared to the previous year.
Coming to 2020, e-Commerce on FMCG categories were already growing fast, with 57 percent growth in the pre-COVID-19 period; it tripled to 183 percent in the first eight weeks of the pandemic.
So, actually COVID-19 is an accelerator for the e-commerce transformation. We see these in personal care, home care, especially in baby food but also for tea and coffee categories.
Turkey has never introduced total lockdown for more than four days and even then consumers were allowed to walk to the nearest market. How do you explain this rise?
Retailers in Turkey were already on a digital transformation journey. They were investing more in e-commerce. With the pandemic, we suddenly started having conference calls, working from home. COVID-19 became a catalyst to more use online from all perspectives.
The Health Ministry’s “stay at home” campaign was successful. Our consumers followed the trends. It was rather preferred to have less contact, more social distancing; therefore, we believe that with the already digitalized transformation, Turkish shoppers were open to buying online.
In our research, 37 percent of the consumers said they are shopping online more often during COVID-19. When I compare this with other countries like Poland, Italy and Germany, it is significantly higher.
When it comes to digitalization and technology adaptation, Turkey seems to be far ahead than Europe.