May 24, 2013, 11:50 AM

Big and getting bigger

The Top 10 merchants accounted for 52% of all 2012 Top 500 sales.

Mark Brohan

Research Director

Lead Photo

When it comes to who’s accounting for the most sales in the 2013 edition of the Top 500 Guide , the answer is clear: the big are getting bigger.

In 2012, the combined sales of the Top 500 grew year over year 17.5% to $216.17 billion from $183.93 billion, while total e-commerce as measured by the U.S. Department of Commerce increased about 15.8% to $225.5 billion last year from $194.7 billion in the prior year. By contrast, total retail sales grew only about 4.1% to $3.09 trillion in 2012 from $2.97 trillion. The retail sales figures are from the U.S. Department of Commerce but exclude certain categories such as fuel, vehicles, restaraunts and bars. While e-commerce represented only 7.3% of total U.S. retail sales in 2012, it accounted for 25.6% of the growth.

The top 100 retailers continue to account for the biggest portion of all Top 500 sales. In 2012, Amazon’s total sales of $61.09 billion accounted for 28.3% of total Top 500 sales, 32.7% of Top 100 sales of $187.07 billion and 66.7% of all Top 500 web-only merchant sales. Minus its 2012 international sales of $26.28 billion, Amazon still single-handedly accounted for 15.4%—$34.81 billion—of  all U.S. e-commerce sales of $225.5 billion and 20.2% of all U.S. Top 500 sales of $172.27 billion.

Amazon’s above-market growth is a major reason the biggest online retailers account for such a large share of all Top 500 sales. The combined 2012 web sales of the top 10 retailers—Amazon.com, Staples Inc. ($10.30 billion), Apple ($8.83 billion), Walmart.com ($7.70 billion), Liberty Interactive Corp. ($4.30 billion), Sears Holdings Corp. ($4.20 billion), Office Depot Inc. ($4.06 billion), Dell Inc. ($3.90 billion), Netflix Inc. ($3.61 billion) and Best Buy Co. ($3.35 billion) amounted to $111.34 billion and accounted for about 51.5% of all Top 500 sales and 59.5% of Top 100 sales. In comparison, the combined 2011 web sales of the 10 biggest retailers ranked in the Top 500 amounted to $93.9 billion and accounted for 51.1% and 58.9%, respectively of all Top 500 and Top 100 web sales.

The biggest Top 500 retailers continue to grow by diversifying their e-commerce operations with new merchandise and product categories. They’re also digging deeper into their web analytics, web site traffic logs and other data to gain nuggets of insight that will lead to understanding customer behavior better so they can surpass  shoppers’ expectations.

Additionally, the largest retailers are mastering how to maximize customer acquisition and sales from new opportunities in mobile commerce and social media. “This isn’t the same market we all knew 10 years ago, and the changes in technology, marketing and customer expectations are coming faster than I’ve ever known,” says Sam Taylor, CEO of Oriental Trading, an 81-year-old direct marketing company that today uses the Internet and e-commerce to drive about 70% of its sales. “If we aren’t willing to change and keep up with innovation, someone else will.”

To read previous Top 500 Insider stories, click here.

More on these and other metrics and analysis is contained in The 2013 Top 500 Guide.

The 2013 Top 500 Guide is available in three formats: print, digital and as part of the all-new and completely updated Top500Guide.com. Information on how to order the new 2013 Top 500 Guide is available here

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