The Top 500 Guide for 2013 makes for some invigorating reading for e‑commerce analysts and e‑commerce managers: web-only retailers have emerged as the fastest growing merchant type of all during the last year.
Web-only leads the way
Seven of the ten merchants registering the fastest growth in online sales year-on-year are web-only e‑retailers, the 10th Anniversary edition of the Guide reveals. They include zulily, which saw growth of 167 per cent in 2012 to reach $399.8 billion, and Groupon Inc., which saw growth skyrocket by almost 2100 per cent to $454.7 million. Other top performers in 2012 include ThinkFastToys.com (up 192 per cent to $22.5 million); NastyGal.com (up 357 per cent to $128 million); Fab.com (up 653 per cent to $150 million) and NoMoreRack.com (up 1023 per cent to $100 million).
Anyone interested in media jobs might start hunting for e‑commerce manager roles on the back of figures like this. This sector is buzzing. Of all the retailers in the Guide, web-only merchants formed the single biggest single category of businesses to meet or exceed the overall growth rate of the Top 500. 71 web-only merchants met or exceeded the overall growth rate in 2012, representing 36.2 per cent of the total. Just 54 retail chains (34.3 per cent of the total) met these criteria, followed by 22 consumer brand manufacturers (33.3 per cent) and 16 merchants selling through catalogs or call center as well as online (19.8 per cent).
E‑commerce: from sideline to center stage
Some of the Top 500 merchants are growing more modestly, but they’re clearly still surviving and growing. A case in point is Oriental trading Co. Inc., which just three years ago appeared to be in dire straits. But with its new owner, financier Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., it’s taken on a new lease of life and is profitable again.
This may be due to the effort it’s put in to diversifying its e‑commerce channel: it’s developed more private-label merchandise and new product lines aimed at specialty events like proms and parties. The company’s CEO, Sam Taylor, says:
“Ten years ago e‑commerce was 25% of our business and now its 70%. We’ve changed the mindset around here of being a catalog company treating the web as a support channel to making e‑commerce our growth engine now and going forward.”