In this article you will find a ton of useful information of the best, largest and most successful online retailers over the past few years. You will learn which merchants achieved the greatest growth, the ones who have innovated the most and even give you some advice on how you can run or participate in an e-commerce affiliate program.
As usual, let’s start with some statistics on a larger scale, so you will be perfectly informed about the environment the best retailers have to compete in today.
Who are online retailers?
We are not really looking for a basic definition here. If you are reading this blog chances are you already know who an online retailers are – e.g. someone who sells their products or services through the internet. Online shopping itself is basically electronic commerce or eCommerce as we use the term today.
But there are great differences between online merchants, and not only by means of size or profit.
In 2018 someone who is not leveraging the best available platforms, online marketing techniques or business planning can hardly call themselves online retailers. Either if you are someone who is just planning to start their own business or the head of a large e-commerce company, you need to learn from the best!
The companies on this list are the largest in the world and as such they all have complex strategies, campaigns, processes, and best practices you can use yourself. We will tell you a few key facts about each company as well as their growth rate and other important factors.
What does FY stand for? It may be important to clarify that in this article FY stands for “financial year. The abbreviation may also be used for financial yield or fiscal yield, which is not the term we are using here. You will see that in the article we are using data from different financial years (for example FY2017 means that the data we are referring to is from the 2017 financial year). The reason for this is that we want to give you the most up-to-date data available while also providing a comprehensive picture of the global retail landscape of the past few years.
Now that we cleared this, let’s dive in the numbers.
Main statistics of the largest global retailers in 2018
Here we will examine how the list of the largest global retailers has changed over time. For the most recent statistics, we will use the Global Powers of Retailing 2018 publication by Deloitte.
First, let’s have a look at the most important statistics of the last year.
- From FY2011 to FY2015, the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) reached 4.8%.
- Composite year-over-year revenue growth was 4.1%.
- Aggregate retail revenue of FY2016 for the top 250 retailers globally reached US$4.4 trillion.
- Composite net profit margin was 3.2%
- The average size of a top 250 retail company in terms of revenue was US$17.6 billion.
- Almost exactly two-thirds of the top 250 retailers (66.8%) run operations in foreign countries.
- Foreign operations accounted for 22.5% of the aggregate retail revenue of the top 250 retailers.
- A typical top 250 retailer conducts operations in an average of 10 countries.
As you can see, most of the largest retailers have multinational operations. But the above statistics are for all retailers, not eCommerce companies.
Thanks to the 2018 Online Marketplaces Report by Digital Commerce 360 we also have up-to-date statistics on global marketplaces. Note that these are not about global online retail traffic, but specifically about marketplaces.
- Customers spent more than $1.55 trillion globally at the 75 largest online marketplaces.
- The top 75 dominate the global market: they account for more than 90% of all global online marketplace sales.
- Sales on online marketplaces account for 50% of the global e-commerce sales.
- Total online retail sales are estimated to reach US$2.489 trillion in 2018, accounting for 8.8% of all retail sales.
- In 2018 47.3% of the total internet population are considered digital buyers.
Percentage of traffic and sales by device for 2018:
|Smartphone||Desktop / PC||Tablet|
|% of ecommerce traffic||33.7%||53.9%||12.4%|
|% of retail sales||10.7%||76.9%||23.4%|
As you can see while mobile accounts for more and more traffic globally, customers are still mainly using their smartphones for browsing and mostly completeing their purchases on desktop.
Based on data compiled by Statista and Invesp we also have a list of countries with the highest percentage of e-commerce sales compared to total retail sales:
- United Kingdom (18%)
- China (16.6%)
- Norway (12.7%)
- Finland (11.5%)
- South Korea (12%)
- Denmark (10.8%)
- Germany (11.2%)
- United States (8.9%)
- Canada (8.2%)
- Japan (6.7%)
However the list of countries with the highest average e-commerce revenue per customer looks a bit different:
- United States ($1,804)
- United Kingdom ($1,629)
- Sweden ($1,446)
- France ($1,228)
- Germany ($1,064)
- Japan ($968)
- Spain ($849)
- China ($626)
- Russia ($396)
- Brazil ($350)
2018 statistics of US online retailers
According to data by research firm eMarketer, we have a pretty good picture about how e-commerce is currently affecting overall retail sales in the United States. According to them:
- In the first quarter of 2018 $114 billion came from eCommerce (total retail sales for the quarter was US$1.2 trillion). In other words, online sales now account for 9.3% in 2018.
- In the past few years, the share of online sales grew at a steady pace. In 2016 eCommerce accounted for 8.0%, in 2017 for 8.9% of all sales in the country.
- According to forecasts 2018 total eCommerce sales in the IS will be ~$461.5 billion. By 2022 it is estimated that American consumers will spend US638 billion online. However, the US still falls behind other markets in terms of e-commerce market share (for example in the UK online retail accounts for almost a fifth of all retail sales).
- Sales of the top 1000 US retailers grew by 18.4% in 2017.
Who are the world’s largest online retailers? (Top online retailers in 2017 & 2018)
The following list is compiled based on publicly available data from the National Retail Foundation and the Internet Retailer 2018 Top 500 report.
Currently, Amazon is the world’s largest retailer by revenue and the second largest by total sales. The company was founded by Jeff Bezos in 1994 and surpassed Walmart as the most valuable retailer in the United States in 2015 (and has held that position ever since). It is also the second most valuable company in the world. In September 2018 they reached a $1 trillion market cap.
JD.com is one of China’s two largest B2C retailers, which currently has more than 300 million active users. While specializing in high-tech delivery using drones, they have. Built the largest drone delivery system in the world. JD.com continues to innovate by experimenting with robotics, autonomous trucks and drone airports for delivery.
Apple is the first publicly traded company in the US to reach a $1 trillion evaluation. They are currently the third largest mobile phone manufacturer in the world and the largest IT company. At the beginning of 2018 there were more than 1.3 billion Apple products actively used worldwide. Last year their revenue totaled at $229 billion.
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
The American company operates 11,718 stores worldwide (in 28 countries). The stores operate under almost 60 different brand names, but their e-commerce efforts are all coordinated by the company’s eCommerce Division, based in California. They are the world’s largest company both by revenue (over $500 billion) and the number of employees (more than 2.3 million).
Suning Commerce Group Co.
While being one of the largest non-governmental retailers in China, Suning operates more than 1600 stores in 700+ Chinese cities. In 2016 their overall revenue was more than $21.5 billion. The company maninly sells electronics appliances (TVs, audio and video players, refrigerators, washing machines, IT products and so on), but they also sell books, baby care products, household commodities and other types of products.
Otto (Gmbh & Co KG)
The Otto Group is based in Germany and France and is currently one of the largest retail e-commerce companies in the world. They operate in a mail-order business model in more than 20 countries. Over the past few years they have also expanded their operations to real estate and financial services.
Tesco PLC is the 9th largest retail company in the world based on revenue, The British multinational company operates in seven countries between Europe and Asia with more than 476 thousand employees. In 2017, the companies revenue £55.9 million.
Vipshop Holdings Limited
The company operates VIP.com, a Chinese website that specializes in online discount sales. According to the latest statistics they have 52.1 million active customers and in 2016 they completed almost 270 million orders. The Top 250 Global Powers of Retailing report by Deloitte stated that it is the fastest growing retailer in the world.
Qurate Retail Group
The company, formerly known as Liberty Interactive Corporation is known as a media conglomerate in the United States. Its revenue comes mainly from a number of e-retail subsidiaries. The Group has more than 24.000 employees. Their 2016 revenue was $10.219 billion.
Macy’s is a US-based holding company that operates nearly 900 stores in the country. Its subsidiaries (Macy’s, Bloomingdales’ and Bluemercury) had a revenue of $24.837 billion in 2017. The company was ranked as No. 6 in the Internet Retailer 2018 Top 500 report. 2018 has been a good year for the company so far: in the first quarter, their mobile app sales grew by 50%.
The Home Depot, Inc.
Home Depot is US company that sells home improvement supplies online and proves to be quite good at it: it ranks No. 7 in the Internet Retailer 2018 Top 500 report and their revenue was US$100.9 billion in 2017. With 2000+ locations and 400,000+ employees, they are one of the largest companies in the country.
Best Buy Co., Inc.
The electronics retailer may be based in the US, but they also operate brands and subsidiaries all over the world, including China. Their accomplishments include being named as one of “America’s Most Generous Corporations” and one of the “Most Admired Companies”. Their latest fiscal year brought in $42.15 billion in revenue.
Casino Guichard-Perrachon S.A.
The first French retailer on our list employs more than 330,000 people in multiple countries. Through its brands it offers several e-tailing solutions in France, Colombia, -and Brazil. However, in recent years they have been struggling because of their brick-and-mortar locations: in 2018 the company lost 30% in value.’s shares lost almost 30% of their value. Experts say that emerging online alternatives to their services and changing customer habits are to blame for their stores making huge losses.
Costco Wholesale Corporation
Costco is based in the United States, but operates in 11 countries with 759 warehouses and 205,000+ employees. Their revenue in 2018 accounted for $129 billion. Currently they are ranked No. 12 in the Internet Retailer 2018 Top 500 report. They were early to turn towards online retail: costco.com opened in 2001 as a B2B shopping site, and continue to develop their services: in 2017 they started to offer same-day and two-day delivery in a number of US states.
The US-based retail company employs 38,000 people in the country and operates 1,400 retail stores, e-commerce sites and B2B sales organizations. They mainly sell office supplies, and which they are one of the largest retailers in the world, ranking No. 14 in the Internet Retailer 2018 Top 500 report. In 2017 the company had $10.24 revenue.
As the second largest department store retailer in the US, Target currently rankes No.17 in the Internet Retailer 2018 Top 500 report. They operate more than 1,800 stores in the states with 345,000 employees and as of February 2018, have $71,88 billion in yearly revenue. They actively improve their eCommerce experience and in 2017 launched a brand new online order service, Drive Up, which allows shoppers to order products online and pick it up outside their stores.
Currently the 13th largest company on the Internet Retailer 2018 Top 500 list, Wayfair is an e-commerce company based in the United States but also operates in Canada, Germany, Ireland, -and the United Kingdom. They have five active branded e-commerce retail sites (Wayfair, Joss & Main, AllModern, Birch Lane and DwellStudio) and has more than 10,000 employees.
Zalando is an eCommerce company based in Germany, that sells fashion, beauty products, and shoes online. It currently operates in 15 European countries with more than 14,000 employees and as of 2017 a yearly revenue of €4.49 billion. They are known for their particularly customer-friendly shipping, return and payment policies which gives them a competitive edge in their market.
John Lewis Partnership Plc
The retail company is based in the United Kingdom and is active in a number of industries including the operation of department stores, banking and financial services as well as their retail-related operations. They have almost 89,000 employees. One of their subsidiaries, Waitrose & Partners is known for launching the first free online delivery service back in 2011.
A chain of department stores that employs more than 72,000 people in the United States. They mainly sell shoes, clothing, accessories, handbags, jewelry, fragrances and beauty products. Besides their almost 400 stores in 40 states, they also operate 3 eCommerce retail sites, including the private sales site Hautelook they acquired in 2011.
Kohl’s has a chain of department stores in the United States that employs more than 138,000 people with a yearly revenue of $18,686 billion (FY2016). They are highly active online: they hired the DeVito/Verdi advertising agency in 2009 to run online social media campaigns. In January 2017 their stocks took a great hit, but their strong eCommerce sales helped them maintain trust in the compnay.
Shop Direct Group
The company operates mainly in the United Kingdom and Ireland and is defined as a multi-brand online retailer. They mainly sell clothing, electronics, furniture, homeware and jewelry, and are currently one of the largest retailers in the UK. They reported in 2016 that their mobile sales (62%) had surpassed desktop purchases, which is why they have put a strong emphasis on improving their mobile shopping experience.
Lojas Americanas S.A.
Our first Brazilian company on the list is known for purchasing the Brazilian operations of Blockbuster in 2007, but since have expanded their operations by adopting the store model of American Express and launching Submarino, Americanas.com and Shoptime. Their yearly revenue as of 2017 is $5.2 billion.
Centres Distributeurs E.Leclerc
Defined primarily as a hypermarket chain and a cooperative society, E.Lecrec operates many brands, stores, -and services throughout France. It has a special business model in which all members who run stores for them must distribute 25% of their stores’ profits to the employees and must also be active in commercial activities. It is estimated that they are will provide electricity to more than 10% of the French market by 2025.
The Gap, Inc.
Coming in at No.20 on the Internet Retailer 2018 Top 500, Gap is one of the largest clothing and accessory retailers in the world. The company, founded and based in the United States, has a yearly revenue of $15.855 billion and more than 135,000 employees. Over the past few years, they have launched many e-commerce brands including Athleta and is currently planning to launch a new one called-, City Hill. Their e-commerce shipping services now cover 55 countries worldwide.
Next Plc is the largest retailer in the United Kingdom: it operates more than 700 stores in the UK, and another 200+ Europe, the Middle East, -and Asia. Their yearly revenue as of 2017 is US$4.09 billion. They launched their first online catalog for the United States (offering clothing, shoes, -and accessories) in 2009.
As US-based consumer retail company with $4.4 billion in yearly revenue, Williams-Sonoma mainly sells home furnishings and kitchenware. They also have international retail operations (in Mexico and the United Kingdom among others) and have 8 brands under its umbrella. As of 2018 nearly 54% of their revenue comes from e-commerce. They were ranked No.25 in the Internet Retailer 2018 Top 1000 report.
Online retailers with the largest growth (2018)
The following list is based on data that was made available in the 2018 Internet Retailer Top 1000 report by Digital Commerce 360.
In the table below you can find the 15 companies with the largest growth in 2017 and also some details about their business models, operations and recent endeavors. The companies on this list all managed to grow their eCommerce revenues by more than 150% in the last year.
|Top 1000 rank
|Harvest Right LLC||606||Housewares/Home Furnishings||387%|
|Founded in 2012, the US company manufactures and sells food products machinery. Their main product is the Freeze Dryer which they developed for four years before rolling it out. The company has a marketing team that has successfully implemented targeted advertising: their brand and product has appeared in countless magazines, radio programs, -and blogs over the past few years.
|Away positions itself as a smart-luggage brand, but also offers a line of accessories related to travel. They are known for their original designs and rolled out a pink luggage line in 2017 aimed at millennials which sold out almost instantly. The company was founded in 2015 and has sold more than 300,000 suitcases since.
|Rad Power Bikes||925||Sporting Goods||300%|
|The company built the first prototype of its eBikes in 2007. Since then they are engaged in designing, building, and supporting eBikes in the United States and Europe. Their business model is effective because customers can purchase the bikes directly from them, for a lower cost than if they bought it from a traditional bike shop. The company has been featured in many publications, including the Forbes 30 Under 30 list, the Entrepreneur’s Best Entrepreneurial Companies 2017 list and Inc. Magazine 30 Under 30 list.
|A company with more than a 100 years of history behind it, and also one of the most successful historical brands to reinvent itself using modern technology. The Philadelphia based Govberg defines itself as “a 100-year-old startup”, blending personal commerce and technology. They have launched their own app (Govberg On Time), which helps them reach and communicate with their customers on a constant basis.
|According to Inc..com, in 2017 Glossier has achieved the “cult brand” status. The company had also raised $34 million in funding by that point and created more than two dozen original beauty products. They aim to be “the Nike of beauty” with their body-positive messages and advertising campaigns. In order to do that in February 2018 they also announced that they are investing $52 million in customer experience and have expanded into two new countries (the United Kingdom and Canada).
|ASICS America Corp.||526||Apparel/Accessories||260%|
|ASICS is a designer and manufacturer of athletic shoes, apparel, -and accessories. They actively expanded their operation over the past few years, creating a global digital hub in Boston in 2016 and acquiring FitnessKeeper Inc for $85 million, developers of the popular app RunKeeper.
|The company offers a very wide range of technology accessories and gadgets on, their online store including brands like Apple, Samsung, Nokia, Logitech and many others. They often run discount campaigns and also an affiliate program with weekly newsletters and content to promote. Their average order value is $125. They define themselves as a service “for geeks by geeks”.
|Allbirds is a San Francisco startup that manufactures “the world’s most comfortable shoes” according to their marketing. They are opening their second permanent location in New York shortly. They are a popular brand, which is no surprise considering that many celebrities including Oprah have been seen wearing their shoes.
|A provider of electronic products located in the US, offering wholesale distribution of parts, video products and electronic communications equipment worldwide. Since their founding in 2009 they have sold over 6 million products around the world and opened manufacturing and research facilities in China.
|In 2017 Fashion Nova was one of the most searched fashion brands. They have 13.4 million followers on Instagram and are working hard to grow that number. In order to do that they are reaching out to celebrities on social platforms and running very effective influencer campaigns with their help.
|Turntable Lab is basically a music store – and so much more than that. It is paradoxically famous for being one of the hidden gems in New York for those enthusiastic about vintage music equipment and expert advice for gear and records. Besides being a very popular brick-and-mortar location, their fame also helps them maintain a very successful eCommerce presence.
|Bombas began in 2013 as a company making high-quality gym clothing and accessories. They have a one-for-one model running: for every sock or t-shirt sold, they donate one to those in need. They became famous when they appeared in Shark Tank, but not everyone thought their model was viable – and they proved everyone wrong. In February 2018 the company announced that they have met their 10-year goal of selling 7 million socks and donated the same amount to homeless shelters.
|According to Forbes the company “shook up” the US$19 billion wedding industry: they run an online wedding registry, holding no inventory of their own and instead relying on their more than 500 vendors who ship the products directly to the couples. They also have a famously friendly shipping policy. Since their 2013 founding they have raised US$41 million from investors.
|The Chinese company is a supplier of clothes. It was founded in 2009 and runs very successful social media campaigns, gathering hundreds of thousands of online appearances and followers. They are known for running innovative marketing campaigns which seem to work well. Their current yearly revenue is an estimated US$25 million.
|The main profile of the company is selling Rubik’s cubes, but they took it to the next level: you can find stickers, magnetic cubes, many kinds of accessories and more on their site. They launched their site in 2011 and since then they gained a reputation as innovators and top contributors in the speedcubing community.|
Largest online marketplaces in 2017
According to the 2018 Online Marketplaces Report, the top 75 online marketplaces managed to gain US$1.55 trillion in revenues in the last year. And these 75 players cover more than 90% of the global market regarding sales. They grew their gross merchandise value by 34% from 2016 to 2017.
It comes as no surprise that the largest marketplaces are US based companies:
- 43 operates in North America (the US and Canada)
- 15 operates in Asia (mainly in China and India)
- 12 operates in Europe (in the UK, France, Spain, Germany, -and Poland)
- 3 operates in Latin America (in Brazil and Argentina)
- 2 operates in the Middle-East and Africa
It may also be interesting that of the top 75 marketplaces 35 launched between 2010 and 2015, and another 8 since then.
However, the largest online marketplace is not American. The list of the top 5 goes like this based on their gross merchandise value:
- Taobao The Chinese marketplace of Alibaba Group where more than 634 million consumers are shopping every month. They are the second most valued e-commerce company in the world with their mother company’s estimated US$460 billion market capitalization. In China, there are even so-called “Taobao villages” that completely depend on the marketplace by producing and selling products that they sell through the platform. Alibaba reported a whopping 61% increase in revenue in August 2018.
- Tmall A marketplace that spun off Taobao, differentiating from its parent company by B2C offerings instead of C2C. Created in 2010 under the name Taobao Mall, they managed to take over more than half (51.3%) of the Chinese B2C online market by 2013. Currently, there are more than 70,000 Chinese and international brands and 50,000 merchants featured on the site who serve more than 180 million customers every month.
- Amazon A company we have already mentioned and we all know the most valuable e-commerce company in the world with over $177.86 billion in revenues in 2017. They are the second largest employer in the United States and overall the second most valuable company globally.
- eBay The B2C and B2C business platform reached $9.567 billion in 2017. They employ more than 14,000 people. With a 21 year history, they are one of the oldest marketplaces on the internet.
- JD.com The third Chinese company on the list: they have more than 300 million active customers and are one of the most innovative companies in the world, heavily investing in developing robotics and drone technology for delivery.
Largest online retailers in the United States
When looking at the largest eCommerce retailers in the US, we can look at different metrics and get different results. Based on only the online traffic they get, these are the largest players on the market as of April 2018:
|Average monthly traffic||Top 10 traffic share|
It is worth mentioning that based on Similar Web data, 58% of all this traffic comes from mobile devices – however, as we have mentioned earlier at the statistics, most conversions still take place on a desktop.
If we look at the estimated 2018 eCommerce revenues in the US, we can see a list that is a bit different from the one above, but all that this means is that traffic is not directly translated into revenue – which makes sense as there are a great many other factors to consider including the types and number of products, conversion rate, average order value and so on.
|Estimated 2018 eCommerce revenue||% of US eCommerce sales||Internet Retailer 2018 Top 500 rank|
|Home Depot||US$3.79 billion||1.5%||No.7|
|Best Buy||US$3.28 billion||1.3%||No.8|
|Qurate Retail Group||US$3.03 billion||1.2%||No.11|
Top eCommerce retailers of 2018 by category
We have broken down some of the most interesting categories in online retail for you, so you can see how different things might work if you are marketing in a particular niche or geographic area.
Top online clothing retailers
|Average Monthly Traffic||Traffic Share|
|A US-based department store chain. In recent years they are focusing on extending their e-commerce services particularly on mobile, and they are currently planning to roll out a mobile check-out option at their brick-and-mortar locations with their own application. In 2018 they also expanded same-day delivery to a number of states.
|J. C. Penney||28.8 million||12.5%|
|The American department store chain has been an online retailer since 1998. By the end of 2018 their online sales have dropped a bit, but according to the company this is according to plan as they are currently working on improving the overall digital experience of their brand. In past years they rolled out many innovations like the “order online, pick up at store” option and a mobile app that can serve as a mobile wallet.
|A US-based chain of department stores, operating also in Canada and Puerto Rico. In 2011 they acquired HauteLook, an online retailer. In August 2018 they have reported a 23% surge in e-commerce sales, which might be a result of their innovations in e-commerce, like introducing an “order online, pick up in store” option. They currently rank at No. 16 in the Internet Retailer 2018 Top 500.
|The brand that mainly offers sportswear is particularly strong in eCommerce: last year they reported that their online sales grew by 30%. By 2020 they aim to reach an annual US$7 billion in annual eCommerce sales, and to achieve that goal they are working to reach their customers in a more personalized way through mobile apps and other channels. They are also using online data collected via their apps to boost sales at their brick-and-mortar locations.
|In recent years Gap has put a large focus on eCommerce. They overhauled their warehouses to serve online orders more effectively, and they are also constantly working on improving customer experience in their online stores. In 2018 they expect that their eCommerce revenues will grow by 13%, reaching US$3.5 billion. They are currently No.20 on the Internet Retailer 2018 Top 500 list.
|The company was founded in 2009 and sells mainly children’s and women’s apparel, toys and infant gear. 70% of their orders now come from mobile devices, which is a particularly high portion. Currently, they have 6.1 million active customers and an annual revenue of 1.6 billion as of 2017.
|The company started as an e-commerce platform selling shoes in 1999. They are known for their customer-friendly approach with one of the best customer services in the world and free shipping for every order. They also never charge customers for returns. Their estimated yearly revenue is US$2 billion.
|Forever 21||13.5 million||5.9%|
|A large fashion retailer with more than 600 stores in the United States, Asia, the Middle East and Europe. Their revenue is ~US$4 billion a year. Initially, a site that only offered clothes for women they later expanded their product line to include menswear and they also have a dedicated plus-size section.
|Foot Locker||12.8 million||5.6%|
|A sportswear and footwear retailer based in the US, operating in a total of 28 countries. In 2018 they announced great plans for upping their e-commerce experience, including moving all their digital sites to a common platform with increased functionality and features, and with to aim to connect with their millennial customer base. They are also planning on launching new and improved mobile apps for all their brands by the end of the year.
|Victoria’s Secret||12.8 million||5.6%|
|Designer, manufacturer, -and marketer of women’s lingerie, womenswear and beauty products, based in the US. Recently they are actively turning towards eCommerce, for example, by canceling their catalog as their millennial customer base tends to browse and shop through mobile. Currently, their online presence is responsible for ~20% of their total revenue, earning $1.582 billion in online sales in 2016.
Top online consumer electronic retailers (US)
The following numbers are based on the Top 25 Consumer Electronics E-tailers Report.
|Online CE sales|
|Amazon managed to top Best Buy as the largest CE retailer in 2018 by increasing their sales in the category by 18.5%. Many of their competitors however, are trying to leverage their dominance by becoming third-party sellers.
|Best Buy||US$5.2 billion|
|Best Buy has been expanding their online functionality in past years, adding enhanced search options, natural language capabilities and other features. They currently rank No.10 in the Internet Retailer Top 1000 list.
|Apple is one of the strongest brands in the world, however when it comes to e-commerce sales, they are still lagging behind Amazon, and that hasn’t changed for years. Some say it is because Amazon (and Google) have e-commerce platforms and Apple don’t, some say it is because of Siri not being as smart as Alexa – whatever may be the case, market shares remain relatively unchanged in this relation.
|Walmart’s is one of the most important eCommerce platforms when it comes to consumer electronics, and they are undoubtedly dominating holiday sales in the category. They also experience a slow but steady growth in past years.
|While the strongest audience for Newegg is the male age group between 18 and 35, they are actively working on broadening their demographic reach. However, tech-savvy young males are still their main base and that is why they managed to rank this high on this list. In the meantime, they are also running a service like Amazon Prime and a B2B marketplace.
|Ranked as the #1 for Best B2B eCommerce Site in Apruve’s IT Hardware B2B eCommerce report, Dell has no trouble selling their products online. It is no coincidence either: in 2015 they completely rewired their eCommerce platform specifically to fuel B2B growth, and it seems they were successful with their efforts.
|While e-commerce only accounted for 4% of Costo’s sales in the last year, by the end of 2017 they reported a 40% growth in online sales. According to Business Insider, this might be the result of the company offering two-day delivery, the step-up in their e-commerce marketing and their omnichannel approach (giving tablets to their employees at their nearly 200 stores to facilitate online orders).
|E-commerce at Target grew by an impressing 41% in 2018 Q2 as reported – however, online sales still represent only 5.6% of their overall revenue. Recently they managed to accelerate sales in all of their core categories and they were successful in targeting seasonal trends this year like temperature-sensitive sales in May or targeting audiences on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.
|HPE is currently selling around 50% of their Enterpőrise Group products online and even have a dedicated Enterprise Online Store running. They are also running creative B2B campaigns using typical B2C tactics like influencer marketing, but they are still far away from being one of the top players in the CE category.
|Lenovo, or at least its CEO has great plans for their eCommerce: they are aiming to hit US$122 billion in sales in 3 years. They were ranked No. 15 in the Internet Retailer 2017 Top 500 and No. 30 in the Internet Retailer 2017 Global 1000, which indicates this might be an achievable goal, but their consumer electronics sales will have to grow by a huge margin to help in that.
Largest eCommerce providers of subscription services
By the estimates of Fuel, the subscription market has reached a total revenue of US$10 billion in 2017. The 16 largest companies account for US$5.6 billion together, which also means a 36% growth year-on-year. CAGR of the market since 2013 has been 74%.
The above estimate does not include Amazon Prime – if we include it, the complete market estimate grows to US$20 billion.
Below you can find the list of the largest subscription services and some details about the companies and services themselves.
A style and fashion company that offers “clothes boxes” as a subscription service. Their newest product launched in July: they introduced a clothes box for kids. They have more than 2.7 million active clients, and for 2018 they are expecting their sales to grow by 26% to US$1.23 billion.
The company offers meal kit delivery, operating exclusively in the United States. They deliver boxes weekly to their customers that contain ingredients and suggested recipes. In 2018 they began offering their boxes at Costco locations, entering physical retail. They have been struggling however in the past years: in the second quarter of 2018 they lost 24% of their subscribers.
TechStyle Fashion Group
Offering shoes, handbags, jewelry and denim in their service, their customers can personalize their shopping experience by indicating their fashion preferences on the platform. They also have some brick-and-mortar locations in the US. They also have a number of acknowledgments, including being selected for the Top 1000 Companies Worldwide for Millenial Women in 2018. TO date they have sold over 75 million fashion items.
A meal-kit company with an international presence. They are based in Germany, but they also have operations in the United Kingdom, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, -and the United States. They completed their IPO in 2017, the company is valued at €1.7 billion at the time. They usually deliver ingredients for meals that take 20-40 minutes to prepare, but in the US they also have a wine subscription service.
Dollar Shave Club
A well-known company that delivers razors and other grooming products as part of their subscription service. They have operations in the United States, Canada, Australia and since 2018 also in the United Kingdom. Currently, they have 3.2 million subscribers. In the past years they were able to achieve high-profits by cutting retailers from the purchasing process (thus delivering blades and other products cheaper but with still a high-profit margin to customers) and excellent online marketing campaigns.
The company delivers skincare items, perfumes, nail and skin products, -and other beauty items for their customer – 4 cosmetic samples in each box a month for $10. In 2017 they launched their e-commerce application, Shopper, which includes a reward system through which customers can earn back the money. They have approximately 3 million subscribers.
The service was founded in 2011. Their annual revenue by now is an estimated US$500 million and they have been chosen as the first luxury member of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s CE 100 USA. Members receive regular updates about the luxury items offered on the site, and the company employs a team of gemologists, horologists, art curators, and brand authenticators who can guarantee the authenticity of the items.
A service for “geeks and games”, Loot Crate offers items in their monthly boxes related to movies, TV shows, comics and games. Recently they landed US$23 million in financing to fuel growth. They were ranked the No. 1 fastest-growing private company by Inc. Magazine’s Inc. 5000 as well as #1 on Deloitte’s Fast 500 list for 2016.
The service was founded in 2010, offering monthly boxes to its subscribers of four to five samples of beauty related products including skin care items, makeup and other cosmetics. The company recently changed ownership as Viking GLobal hedge fund became a new majority owner.
The US-based company offers natural and organic food products. Their annual membership costs US$59.95 and they usually ship orders within 2 days or less. Their members can get non-GMO, high-quality products for 25-50% off in all US states, and they are looking to expand their services in the near future.
The service delivers fresh weekly meal kits of ingredients to its customers that can be cooked in 30 minutes. They deliver more than 3 million meals every month to their members. Currently, they deliver to 48 US states with distribution centers in Chicago, Los Angeles and Lithonia, Georgia.
The service delivers quality shaving products. Their annual revenue for 2017 was US$200 million and currently they have 3 million monthly recurring customers. Recently they have raised US$112 million with the aim to move to new categories with their service beyond shaving.
The service launched in the UK in 2008. Members in the UK, US and Australia receive wines that the company buys from independent winemakers from around the world. They are now in the final year of a 3-year transformation plan, doubling their investment in new customer acquisition. They currently have more than 1 million customers and £156.1 in annual revenue.
Rent the Runway
The service was launched in 2009 and in the beginning, it was a purely e-commerce company, offering designer dresses and accessories as rentals. Customers can rent their products for 4-8 days. They have been named as “one of the most disruptive companies in the world” and they have achieved a 150% year-on-year growth in 2017. They work with over 550 designer partners and have 9 million members.
Top eCommerce retailers of past years
We have also compiled the lists of top online retailers from the past 3 years for you, so you can compare this year’s best retailers and also have a look at trends at individual companies besides the global statistics listed at the beginning of the article.
Best online retailers of 2017
|E-commerce Sales (in $US millions)||E-commerce Sales Growth||E-commerce % of Revenue|
|Wal-Mart Stores Inc.||$14,429||8.9%||3.0%|
Largest online retailers in 2016
|E-commerce Sales (in $US millions)||E-commerce % of Revenue|
|Wal-Mart Stores Inc.||$13,484||2.8%|
|The Home Depot||$4,267||5.0%|
Top online retailers in 2015
|E-commerce Sales (in $US millions)||E-commerce Sales Growth||E-commerce % of Revenue|
|Wal-Mart Stores Inc.||$12,136||21.0%||2.5%|
|Sears Holdings Corp.||$5,700||16.3%||18.3%|
Affiliate sites & comparison shopping engines
What is an affiliate eCommerce store?
Put simply, an affiliate eCommerce site (store) is just like any other at first glance. The difference is that the site doesn’t offer their own products, instead they list the products of other retailers.
The model is quite simple.
It is easier and cheaper for retailers, because they don’t have to build their own eCommerce site from the ground up. Instead they can focus on their product development, marketing and so on.
What is in it for those running the program? Some do it for free – you don’t have to pay anything, for example, to be listed in Google Shopping. They are perfectly happy with the increased traffic that goes through their sites and the incredible amount of data about customer behavior and market trends that they can collect this way.
In other cases the affiliate program is a more limited and direct one – you don’t only compare prices, you can also shop there or be redirected to the product page where you can. In many cases the merchants pay a commission for the ones running the affiliate program, which makes perfect sense. Your profit may be a bit lower, but if you can drive up your sales (and possibly traffic) you are still good, especially if you have a very limited budget.
How to start an affiliate store?
Creating an affiliate store is not that much harder than creating a normal one. You can do it with Magento, with Shopify, WordPress (through WooCommerce) or other e-commerce platforms.
There are extensions available for this exact purpose, however, in most cases, you may find that the help of a professional developer could come in handy. Keep in mind, if you create an affiliate program, you any longer owe the responsibility to your customer but also to the merchants who trust in your service. Therefore it would be unwise to jump in not being perfectly sure about how your program works and if it has any bugs in it.
Before you start your own program, you might want to have a look at some of the most popular comparison/affiliate sites of 2018.
Who is offering e-commerce affiliate programs/price comparisons?
Below we are going to list some of the best comparison/affiliate sites for you. Note that these are not in any particular order – you may use it as a checklist if you want your products to appear in as many places as possible. All have their own strengths, which we will also summarize here in a few words.
The site is offering to display reviews and price comparisons in one place. In its listings it includes customer reviews, and although it is a simple concept, it can be a great option for customers as they can see the compared products almost instantly.
Bing offers free listings for retailers, which is a great advantage of the service. This makes the whole process more simple, but there are some downsides, including that at certain times of the year, e.g. during Christmas, they are not accepting new merchants in the system.
The platform is a great place to find similar products and compare prices – for shoppers and merchants looking to analyze their competitors alike. It is by consensus the best comparison engine out there. Store owners can also add their products in order to drive traffic back to their sites. Usage is of course also easy, and by using the Shopping section you will instantly be presented with photos of the products, descriptions, ratings, reviews, -and prices.
One of the oldest shopping engines, and still one of the best. You can set up price alerts on the platform as a customer, so you will be notified when something you are searching for is on sale, you can also compare prices, sellers, find similar products and so on. You can find the best deal from other sites like eBay or Amazon, and it is not limited to retail products – they even have comparisons for real estate on the site.
The only one on this list (and generally) that is integrated directly with Yahoo Shopping, which can be a great advantage for the seller – if you list your products here, you also get the other. Also, they regularly release market research reports, analyzing pricing trends and customer behavior with their own market research tool, the not-so-creatively-named Market Report.
The site offers you the opportunity to compare deals by pricing, shipping, delivery, schedule, -and other factors. It also offers additional tools and expert advice for shoppers to make the most informed decision possible and you can directly shop using your account.
An eBay site and partner of TheFind, so you can find accurate prices fast using its database. It is a great place for merchants looking for extra sales. You can browse through different product categories, filter your searcher by various options like limited sales, discounts, free delivery and so on. It also includes product reviews.
A CSE that drives traffic to your site, this engine is one of the favorites of online merchants. With more than 40 million visitors per month, schedule and place to be listed and to get some extra traffic and sales. It currently has more than 100 million products listed, so it may not be easy to stand out, but that is ultimately a question of what kind of product you have and how you market it.
There are no huge surprises when you look at the statistics and lists above. Companies that are the most innovative continue to grow their e-commerce sales by double digits, while those who are lagging with developments on their online platforms are stagnating.
You can see that there are quite a few companies with special solutions achieving huge growth – including applying traditionally B2C techniques in B2B, automating delivery and so on.
Trends like more and more companies offering same-day or two day-delivery and even free delivery continue, and the subscription business is still booming.
If you want one solid takeaway from this article it is this: despite the market being dominated by the large players, there is still a huge opportunity in getting into eCommerce. You can see from the success of the smaller, more innovative companies that it is perfectly possible to find an audience and revenue if you have the right products and choose your approach well.
The main goal of this list is to give you the chance to learn: look at the most successful players in your niche and their strategies, tactics. Also, have a look at those who are failing to grow or those who have fallen in the past years, because there is a lot to learn from what they did wrong.
Analyzing your competitors and learning from the best players in the market is not a thing you can just skip, even if you are just starting your eCommerce business. It is a vital part of your business strategy. And if you still have questions about how or why you should do that, just contact us.