Most popular online stores worldwide 2019


Amazon

In 1994, Jeff Bezos founded the company  (the wealthiest man in the world) as a marketplace for books. From this humble beginning, Amazon has now become the highest revenue generating eCommerce company and arguably the world’s largest online conglomerate.

In 2017, Amazon generated $177.9 billion in net sales, and this is not just from selling books. Amazon has now grown into a full-fledged online store with a range of products including electronics, clothing, software, pet supplies, and of course, books.

Amazon employees a whopping 566,000 personnel which is a lot more than Google and it’s direct competitor, eBay. This clearly reflects the size of this online store’s operations.

The company had incorporated a “growth at all cost” strategy which was to focus on top-line growth while letting go bottom line profits. Amazon saw a new level of leadership in its core retail business which escalated the company’s growth and made it one of the top 10 eCommerce companies in the world.

The thing about Amazon is that it didn’t become stationary once it achieved massive growth as an online retail business. The company started to branch out and introduced new services to further improve its business.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the second most profit making business for Amazon after its online store. It provides web hosting servers to website owners.

Amazon is also highly data-driven. The company extracts crucial data and analyzes it deeply to come up with newer, better products and services. According to research by Quartz, Amazon secretly launched 91 brands to sell on its marketplace.

With an annual revenue worth billions of dollars, hundreds and thousands of employees, and a filthy rich owner, Amazon is arguably the world’s largest eCommerce company which is why it leads to this particular list.

  • During Amazon’s early days, a bell used to ring after every sale. Later, they shunned the practice because the bell rang so frequently due to increase in sales and growth.


Alibaba

Founded in 1999, this eCommerce giant originated from China.

Jack Ma started Alibaba to make it the biggest online wholesale marketplace. It not only caters to consumers, but also to retailers. Think of a product and chances are that Alibaba has multiple vendors offering that product in multiple versions. This is true for almost every product under the sun.

Alibaba also has other platforms like Aliexpress, Alipay and Taobao.com. The company has an ecosystem in place with its variety of businesses.

For example, Alipay is an online payment service, just like Paypal and is now widely used for online shopping. Tabao.com is a content hub in China with several social media functionalities. Social media marketers often use this tool to stream content, share videos, and product reviews.

Alibaba’s sheer dominance in China, the third largest market in the world, is enough to include it in the list of top ecommerce companies. The company is now trying to get a foothold in the global market.

  • Ali Baba Had Farmers as Salesman

  • In the early stages, Alibaba didn’t have the funds to hire business graduates in their sales team. Jack Ma resorted to hiring farmers from the rural areas and gave them sales jobs which were a big step up for those young men.

  • Ali Baba started from Jack Ma’s humble apartment in Hangzhou. The employees worked, ate, and slept in that apartment.


eBay

Headquarters in San Jose, California, eBay is one of the top eCommerce companies in the world. Founded in 1995, the company was one of the first successful dot-com-bubble survivors that revolutionized online shopping. That is why its logo has a red-blue-green-yellow combination.

The eCommerce platform provides a marketplace for C2C and B2C transactions. People can join and post their products for sale, for other people to see. eBay has a range of product categories which cover almost everything.

What makes eBay so unique and one of the top 10 online companies in the world is its bidding feature. Interested parties can bid on a product and the highest bidder gets the product. Now you might be wondering how does eBay earn from its eCommerce operations if the product is not owned by the store.

Every sales transaction on the store nets eBay a little share in the sales amount. This little share accumulated to $9 billion of revenue in 2017.

To further grow its business, eBay has invested in Flipkart which is handling its operations in India. The company had also invested in PayPal in 2002 and maintained it till 2015 after which the parent company spun it off as a separate company.

  • eBay was originally called ActionWeb. They decided to change the name to eBay because most people referred to the website as eBay ( because eBay was the parent company).

  • The first item listed on eBay was a broken laser pen. Founder, Pierre Omidyar, listed it on the website as a test run. Later a collector bought the pen for $14.83.


Jingdong

It operates out of Beijing, and given the rapid growth, many top eCommerce stores (including Alibaba) consider it a worthy rival. It started out in 1998, and in 2004 began online trading operations – almost six years later.

Although JD is not that big as compared to AliBaba’s portfolio, it had more revenue in 2017 than AliBaba’s ($15B more!). JD also has significantly more employees than AliBaba. (JD has 137,000 and AliBaba has around 65,000)

Renowned for its high tech delivery system, JD is a major leader in advanced product deliveries, using drones. They had recently decided to build 150 drone launch centers so that they can provide a more effective delivery system network in rural areas.

JD has also partnered up with Walmart which will further integrate their platforms, supply chains and resources in China.

  • Jingdong is planning to create drone airports and control centers. They are working with scientists to develop drones that can carry weights up to 1 metric ton.


Zappos

Zappos is an online shoe store that is extremely popular for its customer service. They are one of the top eCommerce companies with the best customer support in the world. The purpose of this company was to “WOW” its customers with exceptional customer service without any conditions.

Tony Hsieh founded Zappos in 1999. After getting no external funds and investments, he ended up investing $500,000 from his own pockets to launch the online store. He had only one objective in mind, to develop an online shoe store with the best customer service.

As part of their distinctive customer service, they don’t charge shipping, return cost or purchase cost. After the delivery, you can return the shoes if you don’t like them and you will get your money back.

Jeff Bezos of Amazon offered to buy Zappos for $1200 million in 2009 but Tony rejected. Tony wanted Zappos to operate as an independent entity and have its own identity, and become one of the top 10 ecommerce companies in the world.

  • As part of its great customer service, Zappos always hires a candidate who is not only qualified but has exceptional character as well. Tony Hsieh once said that if a qualified candidate wasn’t selected, it could be, for example, because he wasn’t nice to Zappos shuttle bus driver.

  • Since customer service is the most important element of Zappos’ culture, every employee goes through training in the customer service department before taking up his or her main position.


Rakuten

Previously known as Buy.com, the eCommerce marketplace got rebranded after Rakuten.com bought it. It is one of the top eCommerce companies and the biggest eCommerce website in Japan. It is also known as the “Amazon of Japan”

Let me give you a hint about the size of this huge eCommerce website – 90% of internet users in Japan have registered an account on Rakuten. It hosts 40,000 businesses and has purchased numerous foreign assets, and has converted them into (overseas) Rakuten branches.

  • Rakuten is the official sponsor of an NBA franchise, Golden State Warriors and a Spanish Football Club  FC Barcelona.

  • Rakuten is now challenging the biggest streaming service, Netflix, after its purchase of Wauaki.tv, a Spanish streaming service. In 2016, it also bought BitNet, a Bitcoin payment processor.

  • Rakuten is one of the world’s largest eCommerce company with its global transactions climbing upto 12.9 trillion Yen. It employees more than 10,000 employees and operates in 24 countries.

  • Rakuten entered the online grocery business in Japan by partnering up with Walmart. It started delivering groceries to Japanese households using Walmart- Rakuten joint venture.


Home Depot

Home Depot is the largest home improvement retail chain, and one of the top ecommerce companies in the world today. With 2,200 physical stores in three countries, 40,000 employees and around $90 billion in annual revenue, Home Depot is a massive force in the retail industry.

Founded in Atlanta, GA, Home Depot has expanded its operations to Canada where they have more than 200 stores across all the 10 provinces. They have also spread their operations to Mexico where they have more than 100 stores.

To expand into Canada, Home Depot acquired three large entities:

  • Aikenhead’s Hardware in 1994

  • Apex Supply in 1999

  • Hughes Supply in 2006

The interesting fact about Home Depot is that most of its online customers operate on a click and mortar model. That is, these customers order their home improvement products online and collect them from the physical store.

Home Depot deals in product categories including, rugs, bathroom vanities, hardwood flooring, light bulbs, washers and more.

  • Home Depot has a store that is not open for general public. Many movie production houses shop for props and set supplies at Home Depot. Located in Pinewood Studios in Fayetteville, GA, the store has provided supplies for the sets of two Marvel movies, Ant-Man and Captain America: Civil War.


Flipkart

Flipkart is a Singaporean online retail store that operates from Bengaluru, India. Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal, graduates of the Indian Institute of Technology, founded it in 2007. After working for Amazon, the pair decided to launch their own online store.

Just like Amazon, Flipkart initially focused on being a successful online bookstore. After making its mark in the Indian market as an online bookstore, Flipkart made a number of acquisitions to expand its operations.

Flipkart acquired a book discovery service weRead and lulu.com in 2010. A year later it acquired Mime360.com and the digital content library of Bollywood portal Chakpak.

Its first major expansion was its DRM-free online music store Flyte. As promising as it sounded, the service failed due to fierce competition in the region.

Fast forward to May 2018, Flipkart got acquired by Walmart after it won the bidding war and bought the Indian eCommerce company for $15 billion. Walmart now owns 81% of the shares in the company.

The company earned $2.8 billion in revenue in 2017 and has 30,000 employees.

  • In 2015. Forbes named Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal in its annual list of world’s richest people. They both stood at 86th position. A year later, both were also named in Time Magazine’s list of top 100 most influential people.


Zalando

If you are into fashion or aspiring to be a fashion designer, then Zalando is the place you need to be. Based in Berlin, Germany, Zalando, one of the top eCommerce companies in the world, focuses on selling fashion apparel throughout the world with a host of brands making their presence felt there.

In addition to just fashion accessories and trends, Zalando also offers gift cards, coupons, vouchers and online sales that help attract millions of users worldwide.

  • At the moment, there are around 24.6 million active customers on Zalando with an average number of 29 million orders per quarter and up to 1500 known brands for fashion, shoes and various apparel.

  • Zalando is one of the Top eCommerce companies in the world, also has more than 700 million visitors averaging every quarter and the popular eCommerce company itself operates in 15 different countries.


Otto

Based in Europe, Otto is not only one of the top eCommerce companies in the world but also rated to be one of the world’s largest eCommerce companies. Not to mention one of the most successful. It is known for its innovation and the ability to constantly reinvent itself with time, keeping in pace with the latest and greatest technological trends in the world.

A trading company selling fashion, sports, electronics, and home equipment, Otto is one of the world’s most visited platforms for buying almost anything you want, through an innovative and easy to use interface presented on its website. The process is simple and just like every other eCommerce company, but Otto takes things a bit further by being seamless.

Otto’s technological background helps it innovate itself and brings customers onto its website for maximum engagement. With its splendid partnership with external brands that are most sought after, Otto is now known as one of one of the top eCommerce companies in the world.

  • A globally active group of retailers, the Otto Group is home to around 51,800 employees with sales figures reaching near 14 billion euros. Otto also has a presence in more than 30 countries in Europe, North America, South American, and even Asia.

  • Otto originated from being a small shoe retailer in Hamburg to an International Group of companies and is now known to be one of the Top eCommerce companies in the world.