August 31, 2011, 10:54 AM

On the world's markets, U.S. retail king Wal-Mart is a homebody, study says

Amazon and Apple attract most of their web site traffic from outside of North America, but 83% of traffic to Wal-Mart sites comes from the U.S. and Canada

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Wal-Mart Stores Inc. may still be the world's largest retailer by total sales, as well as the sixth-largest in web sales in North America, but when it comes to attracting shoppers from outside the U.S., Wal-Mart is a homebody, with 83.4% of its July visitors from North America, according to research from web measurement firm comScore Inc.

By comparison, Wal-Mart rivals Amazon.com Inc. and Apple Inc. are quite worldly. Web sites operated by Amazon, the world's largest retailer by web sales, drew 35.4% of the sites' unique visitors in July from North America, with the rest coming from other regions, comScore says. Apple also comes across as a global citizen in the comScore report, with only 32.0% of its unique visitors last month located in North America.

The comScore findings followed news last month that Wal-Mart, No. 6 in web sales as ranked by the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide (Amazon is No. 1 and Apple No. 3), has revamped its global e-commerce structure. Wal-Mart's online operations in the United States, Canada, Japan and the United Kingdom were placed under the command of bricks-and-mortar executives, and e-commerce in developing markets under the watch of the retailer's global e-commerce team. Wal-Mart says it operates seven e-commerce sites around the world.

The comScore data, which exclude visits made from public computers and mobile devices, underscore that e-commerce is a global movement, says Gian Fulgoni, comScore co-founder and chairman. "Technology has changed the way consumers behave, and increasingly they are opting for the convenience and pricing advantages offered by the online channel," he says. "Several global retail brands have already capitalized on this global consumer trend, and many other retailers are sure to pursue their share of the pie."

thad@verticalwebmedia.com

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