- Nine out of the world's 10 largest e-commerce companies experienced double-digit revenue growth during the pandemic year of 2020, according to a recent GlobalData analysis emailed to Retail Dive.
- Topping the list of the largest e-commerce players by revenue was Amazon, whose revenue grew 37.6% to $386.1 billion last year, followed by JD (29.4% growth; $108.1 billion in revenue) and Alibaba (40.9% growth; $104 billion in revenue).
- Wayfair came in at No. 5 with revenue up 55% — the fastest revenue growth rate among the top U.S. players — to $14.1 billion in 2020. EBay, No. 8 by revenue, had more modest revenue growth than most other players but had the second-fastest growth in its profits, which were up 217.3%, second only to JD (305.9%).
You would have to go back to the industry's nascent years to find growth in e-commerce like 2020 brought. In a recent report, Forrester pegged the growth rate of e-commerce at 30% for last year, the fastest it's grown since 2002. And all this growth came amid a global recession, historic levels of unemployment and instability in the financial markets in the early weeks of the crisis.
It comes as no surprise that the biggest players saw big gains in sales. With online shopping taking off, online specialists were poised to scoop up consumers doing their purchasing on the internet to avoid crowds. According to GlobalData, the "pandemic-defying performance" of top e-tailers was largely due to a rise in active consumers visiting their online platforms.
In the U.S., Amazon was dominant online, just as it has been in the years preceding the pandemic. "As COVID-19 cases increased and lockdown measures were implemented, consumers relied on ecommerce platforms for the purchase of household staples and other essential and home products, which led to an increase in Amazon's revenue," said GlobalData business analyst Keshav Kumar Jha in a press release. "The company's online sales grew 40%, reflecting growing user activity on its online platform."
During 2020, Amazon's North American sales, which include various revenue streams related to its online store, grew by even more than 40% to $75.3 billion. In the early stages of the pandemic, consumers had come to rely so much on Amazon's store and delivery for household goods that the company halted intake and fulfillment of nonessentials temporarily so it could keep up with demand for products most important to consumers.
Wayfair was a major beneficiary of the pandemic in the U.S. as well. For the online home goods specialist, 2020 was the first year it posted a profit in its reporting history. To some, 2020 was a litmus test that proved the company's model can be profitable at high enough revenue levels, though some analysts think Wayfair's high-cost model still needs proving out.
Internationally, online specialists experienced similar market dynamics. Four of the top 10 companies listed by GlobalData are based in China (JD, Alibaba, Vipshop and Pinduoduo). The others are based in Japan (Rakuten), South Korea (Coupang) and Germany (Zalando). All but two — Rakuten and Pinduoduo — enjoyed profit growth along with sales growth.