March 26, 2013, 3:22 PM

Web-only merchants are growing the fastest

Early numbers show web-only retailers drive 77% of 2012 sales growth for the Top 500.

Stefany Moore

Associate Director of Research

Lead Photo

There’s about one month to go until the 10th Anniversary Edition of the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide is published, but preliminary research reveals that web-only merchants are growing by far the fastest. Moreover, they are driving the vast majority of growth for the whole group of retailers tracked in this year’s edition.

The 88 web-only merchants that have provided Internet Retailer with 2012 sales figures thus far grew sales 25.8% to $79.2 billion last year from $63.0 billion in 2011. By comparison the 198 web-only merchants in the current edition of the Top 500 Guide are also the fastest-growing segment, with sales up 31.8%, to $73.4 billion in 2011 from $55.7 billion in 2010.

The total group of 180 retailers that have so far provided data for the upcoming guide grew web sales in 2012 by 20.9%, to $121.9 billion from $100.8 billion in 2011. That is only slightly ahead of last year’s total Top 500 growth, which was 20.4%.

The web-only retailers that have reported sales for the upcoming edition are responsible for 77.0% of the sales growth for the 180 merchants reporting sales so far. Though, without Amazon.com Inc., they are driving 40.0% of it.

After web-only retailers, consumer brand manufacturers are the next-fastest growing type of merchants. The 17 retailers in that category that have provided sales numbers collectively grew online revenue 17.2%, to $3.6 billion in 2012 from $3.1 billion in 2011.

Behind them are catalog and call center merchants. The 32 merchants that have reported their 2012 web sales so far collectively boosted sales 14.5%, to $7.2 billion from $6.3 billion in 2011. The 43 retail chains that have provided web sales come in last, with 12.0% growth, to $31.8 billion from $28.4 billion.

By comparison, the current edition of the Top 500 Guide has retail chains growing the second fastest, followed by catalog and call center merchants and consumer brand manufacturers.

The 10th Anniversary Edition of the Top 500 Guide will be available in late April. The publication ranks the leaders in e-commerce by annual web sales and includes such key data as conversion rate, average order value, the names of company e-commerce executives and a rundown of the technology providers each retailer works with.

Amazon is No. 1 in the Top 500 Guide.

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