The growing number of influential Weibo commentators are increasingly opening their own online shops or promoting products.
Early Top 500 Guide research shows manufacturers grew online sales 28.3% in 2012.
While Internet Retailer is still in the data-gathering phase for the upcoming 10th Anniversary edition of the Top 500 Guide, early results show consumer brand manufacturers are growing online sales faster than web-only merchants, store-based retailers and catalogers.
Combined 2012 web sales for the 100 retailers that have reported so far are $87.86 billion, up 25.3% from $70.11 billion for the same companies in 2011. The six consumer brand manufacturers represent the fastest-growing merchant type thus far, growing 28.3% to $927.3 million from $722.7 million.
Web-only retailers represent more than half of the responses to date and brought in the most online sales in 2012, according to the early results. The 56 reporting merchants that operate only online had sales of $74.21 billion, up 26.4% from $58.70 billion in 2011. That number includes Amazon.com Inc., which last week reported $61.09 billion in 2012 sales, a 27.1% increase from $48.08 billion in 2011.
Excluding Amazon’s total 2012 sales, which reflect both North America and international sales, online-only companies brought in a combined total of $13.12 billion in online sales in 2012, up 23.4% from $10.63 billion in 2011. Amazon is No. 1 in the 2012 Top 500 Guide.
The analysis of 56 web-only retailers, 22 retail chains, 16 catalogers and six consumer brand manufacturers also reveals retail chains report strong online sales gains so far, with $10.03 billion in web revenue, up 21.3% from $8.27 billion in 2011. Catalogers posted the smallest growth rate. Combined, they brought in $2.69 billion, up 11.6% from $2.41 billion.
In comparison, in the current edition of the Top 500 Guide, web-only merchants led all merchant categories with sales of $73.39 billion, up by 31.8% in 2011 from $55.68 billion in 2010.
The 2013 Top 500 Guide will be published in late April.