July 31, 2002, 12:00 AM

Multi-channel retailers dominate the top 10 e-retailers for the first time

Eight of the top 10 online retailers in sales last year were multi-channel sellers, up from five the year before and three in 1999, a new report from Retail Forward says.

Kurt Peters

Executive Editor

If anyone needed confirmation that dot-com bubble burst drove the pure-play online retailers out of the industry, a new study from consultants Retail Forward Inc. provides it. Retail Forward reports that in 2001, for the first time, the majority of top 10 online retailers were multi-channel merchants. Eight of the top 10 in sales last year were multi-channel sellers, up from five the year before and three in 1999, Retail Forward’s new Top 50 E-Retailers report says. Of the top 50, 42 are multi-channel.

In dollars, the top 10 controlled 60% of the top 50’s sales in 2001, down from 66% the year earlier. The top 50 reported revenue of $14.4 billion, less than half of all online sales of about $36 billion.

Retail Forward says the top 10 online retailers and their 2001 revenue (in millions) are:

1. Amazon.com, $3,122
2. Office Depot, $1,600
3. Staples, $950*
4. Gateway Inc., $775*
5. Costco Wholesale, $450*
6. Barnes & Noble.com, $405
7. Buy.com, $395*
8. QVC.com, $350*
9. Spiegel Group, $332
10. J.C. Penney, $324
* estimated

Portals continue to have a strong and growing influence on e-commerce sales. “They have successfully used their brand names and solid reputations to help their large communities of loyal users feel comfortable about making online purchases – particularly from lesser-known e-retailers,” said Mary Brett Whitfield, senior vice president and director of the Retail Forward E-Retail Intelligence Program that conducted the study.

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