Shoppers to spend almost US$6 trillion online by 2026

According to Edge by Ascential’s Annual Future of the Digital Shelf Report.

  • Store-based share of retail predicted to decline from 69% in 2021 to 60% in 2026
  • Ecommerce will drive 2x the retail sales growth as in-store channels from 2021-2026

Edge by Ascential, whose technology-driven products power brands to win in digital commerce, today released its annual Future of the Digital Shelf Report. The report predicts that $2.4 trillion in gross merchandise value (GMV) will move online worldwide between 2021 and 2026, more than double the amount generated by all of the leading store-based channels.

“Our data shows that ecommerce will be the largest driver of retail growth over the next few years, with online retail accounting for almost 40% of global retail sales by 2026,” said Deren Baker, CEO of Edge by Ascential. “Increasingly, product discovery, and even the whole shopper journey, is taking place on social media sites like Facebook and TikTok, which expanded their commerce operations during the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021. Meanwhile, traditional brick-and-mortar retailers are taking leaps in their digital transformation following the lead of Amazon. As retail enters a new generation where the shopper path-to-purchase is most likely to start on a mobile phone or a laptop, the digital shelf is the primary place where shoppers discover, select, purchase and engage with products online, and therefore is fundamental to a brand’s future growth.”

Edge by Ascential’s Future Of the Digital Shelf Report highlights some of the biggest ecommerce trends and challenges impacting brands and retailers today. Some additional key findings include:

Ecommerce is the #1 driver of retail growth (2021-2026)

  • Edge by Ascential expects online retail to account for almost 40% of global retail sales by 2026.
  • From 2021 to 2026, ecommerce will make up 63% of all total GMV growth, outpacing every other store-based retail channel.

Ecommerce is reshaping the purpose of the store

  • The majority of shoppers now begin their product searches on digital channels and studies show that one in three store purchases begin online. Even when in-store, shoppers are increasingly engaging with digital experiences through mobile apps, QR codes, social media and payment. The report suggests that store-based retail, while still important, must find fresh purpose in a digital-first world.

The digital shelf is the primary place where brands achieve future growth, but online is not just one channel

  • During the pandemic in 2020, ecommerce activity increased by 37% worldwide causing advancement and evolution throughout the entire online shopping ecosystems online, and therefore is fundamental to a brand’s future growth.”

Understanding The Edge Digital Shelf Equation is key to driving online traffic, sales and market share

  • The report emphasizes that the key to driving performance on the digital shelf comes down to three core metrics making up the Digital Shelf Equation (Availability + Traffic + Conversion = Sales and Share)

How to win on the digital shelf

  • Keeping items in stock is the ultimate precursor to sales and conversion on the digital shelf and to maintain a top search ranking. Edge by Ascential has observed clients lose as much as a fifth - 22% - of their weekly sales for every day their product is out of stock.
  • Search is now the preferred way to shop and an entry point for product and brand discovery.
  • For products sold online, a product detail page and online packaging are as critical as the packaging and promotional material for products displayed on a physical shelf.

About the data in this press release

Data and insights come from Edge by Ascential’s Future of the Digital Shelf Report, November 2021-2022. The report was created with data from Edge by Ascential’s proprietary analytics tool, Retail Market Monitor, which can analyze the entire retail ecosystem by sector, geography and channel, and identify growth opportunities for retailers and brands. Retail sales referenced are calculated using Gross Merchandise Value (GMV), a standard used to measure the size of a third-party marketplace. It is calculated by multiplying the number of products sold by the price at which each product was sold over a given time period. Retail sales data includes online and offline operations, and only includes chain retailers, of which Edge Retail Insight covers almost 2,500 worldwide.

About Edge by Ascential

Edge by Ascential powers the digital commerce segment for brands. The world's leading brands focus their local and global go-to-market strategy by using Edge’s predictive retail intelligence technology, advisory services, digital shelf monitoring insights and market share performance analytics. We're giving global brands the strategy, execution and performance edge they need to win in digital commerce.

About Ascential

Ascential delivers specialist information, analytics and ecommerce optimization platforms to the world's leading consumer brands and their ecosystems. Our world-class businesses improve performance and solve problems for our customers by delivering immediately actionable information combined with visionary longer-term thinking across Digital Commerce, Product Design and Marketing. We also serve customers across Retail and Financial Services.

With more than 2,800 employees across five continents, we combine local expertise with a global footprint for clients in over 120 countries. Ascential is listed on the London Stock Exchange.

PR for Edge by Ascential
Brent Bucci

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