Ecommerce Report: Walmart Plays the Underdog and Ebay Takes 2nd place

The quarterly earnings season is wrapping up, and it’s been a rocky one for online retailers: while Amazon reported a series of smashing successes, including its largest-ever profit in company history, the news from EBay was decidedly more tempered. And the ecommerce vertical had one notable late entry: Walmart, which announced strong Q1 figures earlier today.

While the Arkansas-based retailer is best known for its vast network of brick-and-mortar stores (with more than 4,500 physical locations in the U.S. alone), we’ve noticed some interesting data emerging about their ecommerce site, walmart.com. Walmart was notoriously late to the online marketplace, but the investments they’ve made since the 2011 creation of WalmartLabs may finally be paying off.

While Amazon is still the clear winner in terms of engagement, usage and stickiness (the share of the monthly users who also use the particular property daily), there’s some interesting data further down the chart; Walmart.com is nipping at EBay’s heels in many key metrics, including monthly users visiting the site and net reach – all online users (ages 18 and over) in the U.S. who used the specific property during the month of March.

“Walmart is naturally best known for its physical stores,” comments Verto Analytics CEO Hannu Verkasalo. “It is interesting to see, however, that they only lag behind Amazon and eBay when it comes to the number of users that they reach across PCs, smartphones and tablets on a monthly basis. Walmart has certainly been the most notable legacy player that has been able to quickly build their online user base. The billion-dollar question is, whether Amazon destroys and takes money out of incumbent retailers, or whether incumbent retailers up their game against their online-only competitors over the next couple of years?”

Walmart has certainly taken a number of steps over the past 5 years to make a dent in Amazon’s ecommerce footprint; perhaps the hybrid online/offline retailer is finally gaining the momentum it needed. Just last week, Walmart announced ShippingPass, new 2-day subscription shipping option, priced to drastically undercut Amazon’s popular Prime service. While ShippingPass is currently only available to a limited number of customers and certain markets, its rollout (as well as Walmart’s ambitions to develop its grocery options) are a clear swing at some of Amazon’s signature products.

All About Amazon: a True Cross-Device Strategy

Amazon also continues to dominates the hearts and minds of its user base – as well as their mobile devices and PCs. Amazon’s reach across mobile platforms far outperforms its other competitors – even Ebay, in second place, can only claim half as many mobile users.

“Today’s consumers are engaging with e-commerce across platforms, and that is reflected well in Amazon’s strategy to make their sites and apps available in the cross-device world,” notes Verto’s Verkasalo. “Tablets are increasingly used to research new products and even to complete a purchase. In terms of the mobile exposure, Amazon’s reach on these mobile platforms is double that of eBay’s – their closest competitor.”

Jeff Bezos’s ambitions to pursue a truly cross-device strategy are paying off – Amazon’s stickiness score and the time that users spend on the site per month far outstrips Ebay or Walmart. But can Bezos and co maintain such an explosive rate of growth, especially when faced with increasingly stiff competition from old rivals as well as innovative moves from the likes of Walmart?

Is Ebay Losing in Second Place?

This certainly leaves eBay in an awkward place: significantly trailing Amazon, and uncomfortably close to its new contender in the ecommerce space. EBay hasn’t been able to carve out a significant niche audience or attract the level of engagement that Amazon has achieved. Following eBay’s big split from PayPal last year, many investors are wondering if eBay has effectively cut itself off from further growth.

“Paypal is a widely adopted payment platform – it was the way for eBay to expand to other services, and sites, much like Google and Facebook are doing with their advertising platforms that integrate to external media properties,” notes Verto’s Verkasalo. “Given the spin-out and lower engagement levels than Amazon, the question to ask is eBay going to drive its long-term growth in the US and beyond?”

Want to learn more about how we track cross-device behavior and user metrics? Contact us, or follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter.