Verto Index: E-Commerce

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday on the horizon again, we’ve compiled our latest Verto Index on e-commerce, which ranks the most popular e-commerce properties (based on monthly unique user numbers) among U.S. adults, ages 18 and over.

The e-commerce landscape has had a tumultuous year. As Amazon continues its spate of acquisitions, perhaps its most surprising purchase was a $13.7 billion Whole Foods deal, which both companies announced in June. It was enough to jolt brick-and-mortar grocers and online meal kit companies alike. And while Whole Foods’ previous digital presence was minimal at best (it didn’t even make it into our rankings of the top 500 e-commerce properties), we will undoubtedly see that change, and soon.

Top 10: Amazon Dominates the Field

This year’s ten most popular e-commerce properties (which includes websites and apps) show little change from last year’s rankings. Amazon continues to dominate the field across all metrics, with more than 180 million unique monthly users who spend an average of more than five hours per month on Amazon spread across 30 monthly sessions – a sign that some consumers could be using Amazon on a daily (or near-daily basis).

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Second-ranking Walmart still trails by a significant user margin, with 111 million unique monthly users in October 2017. Surprisingly, Etsy has entered the top 10, despite a year marred by mounting competition from Amazon, a CEO layoff, and company restructuring. Investors are apparently beginning to notice as well: Etsy just reported strong third quarter earnings as it prepares for the busy holiday shopping season.

But the real takeaway is understanding just how difficult it is to break into the top ranks of e-commerce properties: this year’s top ten list reveals how stagnant the market segment remains.

Stickiness Ratings: Amazon and Shopkick Share the Glory

Stickiness is how Verto measures user engagement, by comparing daily and monthly users of a given digital property. Unsurprisingly, some of the stickiest properties on our Index are also some of the most popular: once again, Amazon takes the top position, with a stickiness of 31%. But it’s closely followed by Shopkick (30% stickiness), an app that rewards shoppers for visiting brick-and-mortar stores as well as online retailers.

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In fact, deal-oriented shopping properties – including Wish, Slickdeals, and eBay – are some of the stickiest properties on our E-commerce Index. Each property has just a fraction of the monthly unique users that Amazon claims (even eBay racks up only about half as many monthly unique users as its rival), indicating that discount shopping is an important and rapidly expanding market segment: Wish has doubled its user numbers in just the past year.

The Online Battle among Grocery Stores

Verto’s ranking of the biggest online grocery retailers reveals that Amazon’s top five rivals all oversee brick-and-mortar operations as well as e-commerce offerings: Walmart, Target, Kroger, Costco, and Sam’s Club all originally started as physical retailers before jumping into online sales. Properties which specialize mainly in groceries lag significantly behind the companies listed below. Safeway is the supermarket chain with the largest monthly online user base, and it ranks 84th in our list of top 500 properties, with just 7.3 million monthly unique users.

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Amazon has made several forays into the grocery market recently, experimenting with both fresh grocery delivery services (leveraging its own logistics infrastructure) as well as a handful of physical store concepts. But its acquisition of Whole Foods earlier this year is what really shook up the e-commerce space. Whole Foods’ online presence is tiny —  again, it didn’t rank  on our list of the 500 most popular e-commerce properties based on monthly user numbers — but Amazon now has access to Whole Foods’ network of existing physical retail locations, not to its mention customer base.

Click here to download a copy of the Index.

Verto’s competitive cohort analysis shows Amazon’s dominance over e-commerce at large and especially its rivals in the online grocery space: while 94% of Walmart shoppers (Amazon’s #2 rival) also shopped on Amazon in October 2017, only 58% of Amazon shoppers visited a Walmart property in the same month.

The numbers are even more skewed for smaller e-commerce properties: Kroger, which we highlighted as a potentially promising disruptor in last year’s E-commerce Index, saw 95% of its consumer base also shop on Amazon during October. Only 11% of Amazon shoppers also shopped on a Kroger property during the same month, although this actually represents slight growth over last year, when only 9% of all Amazon shoppers also shopped on Kroger’s online properties within the same month.

While this may seem like a bleak time for anyone to break into the online grocery space, there is at least one promising player: Instacart. While it reported just 4.3 million monthly unique users in October, in the weeks and months following the Amazon/Whole Foods announcement, the grocery-delivery service has met with Kroger, Costco, and a variety of other online grocery retailers. Instacart doesn’t stock its own inventory, but instead oversees the staffing and logistics of grocery shopping and delivery from physical stores in various locations throughout the U.S. Will this business model be able to scale to Amazon-like levels?

Interested in our insights on consumer behavior and e-commerce properties? Download a PDF of the Index. And for the latest updates, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.