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The 9 Top Online Retailers


Thanksgiving is still a couple of weeks away, but the holiday shopping season is already underway, albeit unofficially. The "official" start of the season, of course, is Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. A few days later comes "Cyber Monday," a day of deals and discounts by online retailers.

Thanksgiving is still a couple of weeks away, but the holiday shopping season is already underway, albeit unofficially.

The “official” start of the season, of course, is Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. A few days later comes “Cyber Monday,” a day of deals and discounts by online retailers.

Online sales play an increasingly important role in retail, and in holiday commerce in particular. The National Retail Foundation recently found 56% of shoppers plan to shop on the Internet during the holiday season.

So who are the big players in online retail? Most are household names. Some are web-only, while others are brick-and-mortar giants who have transitioned to build robust e-commerce divisions. All are focused on innovating quickly.

Below is a list of the 9 largest Internet retailers, based on unique visitors in the second quarter of 2012. Traffic data comes via comScore.

Etsy screenshot

Q2 Unique Visitors: 23 million

Etsy may not hold the same “household name” status of other companies on the list, but the marketplace site is quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with in e-commerce. Founded in 2005, the Brooklyn-based firm connects independent crafters, jewelry makers, artists, and others creators to consumers. More than 1 million people have set up virtual shops on the site to sell their wares. The company facilitated $1.35 billion in sales in 2013.

Home Depot Screenshot

Q2 Unique Visitors: 24 million

The home improvement store moves millions of dollars of supplies like bricks and mortar in its brick-and-mortar stores, but customers have also turned to the company’s online store for big-ticket items such as appliances. According to The Wall Street Journal, online sales accounted for 4.2% of transactions at Home Depot in Q2. The company had overall second-quarter sales of $2.1 billion.

Best Buy screenshot

Q2 Unique Visitors: 27 million

Many of the items Best Buy was best known for — CDs, DVDs, and devices to play them – have become obsolete in recent years, replaced by digital versions. But the retailer has kept its place as an electronics powerhouse by focusing more on items such as computers and home entertainment systems, as well as through new sales offerings, such as cell phone service. The firm generated $581 million in online sales in the second quarter of this year.

Ticketmaster screenshot

Q2 Unique Visitors: 30 million

Ticketmaster is another company that has had to make a transition in the digital age. While tickets themselves haven’t become obsolete, the Internet has made trading and re-selling tickets much easier, thus giving rise to sites like StubHub.com. Ticketmaster, now part of Live Nation Entertainment Inc., has fought back, however. One of their largest efforts against its new competitor is NFL Ticket Exchange, which is marketed as the only official, verified way to re-sell NFL tickets. Ticketmaster had Q2 earnings of $371 million, up 10% from the prior year.

Target screenshot

Q2 Unique Visitors: 45 million

Target took a major hit last year when a data breach left millions of customers’ data exposed, costing the company about $148 million. Still, the company said its e-commerce sales were up 30% in the second quarter of 2014 versus the previous year. The company has tried to boost online shopping by creating apps offering exclusive deals and offering Wi-Fi in its stores.

Walmart screenshot

Q2 Unique Visitors: 61 million

The global retail giant is also a giant in the online realm. In fact, e-commerce has become one of the brighter spots in the company’s forecast. While sales at US supercenters were disappointing in the second quarter, online sales were up by double-digits, company officials said in a conference call. Meanwhile, the company has branched into traditional banking services and, most recently, healthcare in an effort to diversify and revive its sales.

Apple screenshot

Q2 Unique Visitors: 91 million

Though Apple’s retail stores have become a landmark in many cities, online sales continue to be an important part of the company’s portfolio. However, the complexion of those sales could be changing. The Wall Street Journal recently reported music sales through the iTunes store are down 13-14% for the year. Those drops are likely to be offset, however, by sales of the newly released iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

eBay screenshot

Q2 Unique Visitors: 104 million

eBay, the online buying-and-selling marketplace, was founded in 1995 and remains a force to be reckoned with. The company’s marketplaces had revenue of more than $2.17 billion in the second quarter, a 9% increase. However, the company is also dealing with cyber-attacks and other problems. eBay last month lowered its earnings forecasts for the year, as retailers fret about the upcoming holiday shopping season.

Amazon screenshot

Q2 Unique Visitors: 162 million

It’s no big surprise that Seattle-based Amazon would top the list. The company — which turned 20 years old this year – is a giant in the book publishing world, but also has an increasing footprint in a vast array of retail areas, including everything from consumer electronics to groceries. The company made $19.34 billion in sales in the second quarter of this year.

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