The pandemic accelerated the development of e-commerce by five years

Due to the pandemic, some companies rapidly introduced modern information technology tools. Experts estimate that the Baltics, including Latvia, have reached the level of e-commerce during the year, which would have been achieved only in 2026 if not for the inconveniences caused by the fight against Covid-19.
02.11.2021. Ilze Šteinfelde
 
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At the beginning of 2021, almost all companies in Latvia used the Internet, and 68% of them had their own website, according to the annual survey of the Central Statistical Bureau on the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) and e-commerce in companies. A year ago, about 63% of companies had a website. 95.5% of large companies, 87.3% of medium-sized companies and 63.5% of small companies had a website. 52.5% of all employees of companies used the Internet for work, which is 8.1 percentage points more than in 2020.

There are opportunities, but skills are still lacking for some

With the development of e-commerce during the pandemic, the share of companies selling goods or services on the Internet has increased. In 2020, compared to 2019, this indicator increased by 1.6 percentage points, reaching 17.1%. Of all e-commerce companies, 58.6% indicated that they had tried to increase or start selling goods or services online as a result of Covid-19. The largest share of such companies was in the group of medium-sized companies - 64.1%. In the group of large companies, 58.6% indicated that they tried to increase the volume of e-commerce, while in the group of small companies the share of such companies was 57.3%.

Despite the rapid growth of e-commerce, almost half or 42% of Latvian entrepreneurs review sales and other business-important indicators only once a month or even less often, but only slightly more than every tenth or 13% of entrepreneurs in Latvia analyze performance indicators every day, shows Citadele and Norstat business survey.

Latvian entrepreneurs most often review performance indicators once a month - almost a third or 28% of respondents follow this practice, while 14% of entrepreneurs review the data less than once a month, most often from the construction, real estate, information and communication technology (ICT) and education sectors.

13% of Latvian entrepreneurs review the parameters important for the company every day. For comparison, for example, Lithuanian companies are more active in data monitoring in almost all categories, according to a survey of entrepreneurs. In Latvia, only 12% of company managers monitor business data every day, but Lithuania is almost twice as active - almost every fifth leader of a company.

"E-commerce volumes are growing faster than the habits of entrepreneurs to follow sales results and the ability to react to them quickly. Experts expected to reach the level at which the pandemic lifted e-commerce in the Baltics only in 2026 organically, so entrepreneurs must be able to adapt to such a rapid development cycle and be able to meet the biggest challenges - offering appropriate payment methods and measuring efficiency," said Vladislavs Mironovs, a member of the Board of Citadele Bank on strategy implementation, digital and business development.

13% of entrepreneurs in Latvia review business indicators once a week - this answer was the most common among those working in wholesale and retail trade. In Lithuania, weekly data is monitored by 16%, but 7% of respondents in both Latvia and Lithuania analyze data two to three times a week.

The data show that in 2020, mainly due to Covid-19 containment measures, the number of employees with remote access to the company's unified e-mail system increased by 20.6%. Of these companies, 37.3% indicated that access had increased due to Covid-19. 19.4% of companies have increased the number of employees who have remote access to the company's ICT systems (excluding the company's unified e-mail system), of which 43.5% answered that the increase in access is due to Covid-19. In turn, 32.6% of companies have increased the number of remote meetings held in the company, of which 92.5% answered that such an increase was due to Covid-19.

Social networks are also used more often

This year, social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Draugiem, Instagram, YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, etc.) were used by 57.7% of companies. Compared to 2019, this indicator has increased by 16.8 percentage points. The opportunities provided by social media were most often used by large companies - 90%, but in the group of small companies - only 55%. Relatively little-used social media is wiki-based knowledge sharing tools (MediaWiki, Confluence, SharePoint) which are used by 5.7% of companies.

In 2021, 28.6% of companies used paid cloud services, and compared to 2020, this indicator increased by 7.3 percentage points. In turn, only 3.7% of companies used any of the artificial intelligence technologies.

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