Adobe unveils its Digital Economy Index as the "first real-time digital economy barometer"

Adobe has unveiled its Adobe Digital Economy Index, which it claims is the world’s first real-time barometer of the digital economy.

Analysing trillions of online transactions across 100 million product SKUs in 18 product categories, the system is hoped to accurately track online prices and actual spending. It aims to allow its users to better understand trends and predict changes across multiple industries and countries.

The index is powered by Adobe Analytics and based on a new method of measuring sales of online goods and services called the “digital consumer shopping basket” (DCSP). So far its findings include a 20% increase in digital purchasing power (the amount consumers can buy with a set amount of money over a period of time) since 2014. And as a result of COVID-19, sales in categories such as groceries, cold medications and fitness equipment have surged, with “buy online, pick up in-store” (BOPIS) shopping increasing 62%.

Adobe believes the analysis is significantly more in-depth and accurate compared to survey-based assessments, of the company’s access to a massive volume of real-time, transactional consumer data. Several government bodies and industry trade organizations - including the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Federal Reserve, and the U.S. Census Bureau - have agreed to work with Adobe to get a read on the digital economy and access to this data.

The index has already made a host of other discoveries in the U.S.

First off, it seems digital is driving new shopping behaviour. Certain product categories have taken a bigger share of it, while others have dropped off. Groceries have seen an increased share of the DCSP, rising from 6% to 8% in three years. Apparel retailers pivoted to digital early and over the last five years have seen their share of total online transactions increase from 21% to 23%. Conversely,  in the wake of the mobile revolution, traditional computers have decreased from 21% to 8%.

Next, it looks like digital purchasing power is continuing to rise, with consumers getting more bang for their buck online. Purchasing power for digital consumers is up 3% year-over-year and since 2014 has increased 20%, with US$1.00 buying today what would have cost US$1.20 to buy in 2014. Meanwhile, offline lost value, with US$1.00 in 2020 buying what would cost US$0.88 in 2014.

Lastly, COVID-19 has surged eCommerce activity. Between 1 January and March 11 2020, significant jumps were seen in sales of hand sanitiser, gloves, masks and anti-bacterial sprays (807%), over-the-counter cold, flu and pain reliever drugs (217%), toilet paper (231%), canned goods and shelf-stable items (87%). Additionally, orders for fitness equipment (kettlebells, dumbbells, stationary bikes and treadmills) and computers (desktops and laptops) have seen 55% and 40% boosts in online sales respectively.

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