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Web-only e‑commerce merchants excel in 2013 Top 500 Guide

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 (up 192 per cent to $22.5 mil­lion); (up 357 per cent to $128 mil­lion); (up 653 per cent to $150 mil­lion) and (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.”

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