Is Amazon’s Reign as Ecommerce King Over?

May 18, 2014 10:15 PM  By

open-amazon-box-850Walmart, JCPenney and Nordstrom all reported faster year-over-year ecommerce growth than Amazon for its respective first quarters. But does that mean Amazon’s reign on ecommerce is coming to an end?

No.

Not at all.

But earlier this month, CBS News was talking about a report on how Walmart has “outpaced” Amazon in terms of ecommerce. And CBS caught on to the sensationalized report. While Walmart did, indeed, outpace Amazon in terms of online sales, Amazon is still selling a boatload more of everything via Amazon.com.

While Walmart‘s total ecommerce sales were up 27% – which, indeed, is at a faster pace than Amazon’s 23% first-quarter growth, Walmart’s U.S.-based ecommerce sales were an estimated $2.4 billion.

Amazon.com’s net sales for the quarter, which ended March 31, were $19.74 billion.

I had a little fun with the false report of Amazon’s decline over the weekend. I reported that Nordstrom, too, had outpaced Amazon’s ecommerce sales. And so had JCPenney (hey, after the Ron Johnson fail, JCP needs some sensationalism). I mean, I reported the truth, even if it seemed like a game of Spin the Tale on the Donkey.

But hands down, in terms of volume, Amazon is still the ecommerce champ.

Sunday at IR Focus Brands & B2B in New York, Resource vice president-retail Klay Huddleston perfectly summed up Amazon. Amazon.com does not deliver the best user experience, but it’s so ubiquitous that everyone knows how to use it. Same for its search: hate it or love it, people know how to use it.

But Walmart, Nordstrom and JCPenney are demonstrating that a solid omnichannel strategy pays off, and a great ecommerce user experience is a key to omnichannel success. Consumers are using multiple channels in their path to purchase: Using mobile devices in stores, using a desktop at work but buying on a tablet at home, and, yes, using catalogs to buy online.

“At its core, it’s about providing a superior customer experience with our investments and efforts directed toward one Nordstrom approach, that creates synergies and leverages shared assets and capabilities across all channels,” said Nordstrom president Blake Nordstrom during its first-quarter earnings call.

Customers also want convenience. It’s not just about your customer wanting to shop wherever they want to shop, but having packaged delivered to their destination of choice. No longer do they just want a package delivered to their front door or their place of business. They will order online and pick up that merchandise in a store.

During its earnings call, Walmart U.S. president and executive vice president William Simon said that approximately two-thirds of Walmart’s direct sales came from the Walmart.com fulfilled sales and the remainder from store fulfilled orders.

The path to purchase has also changed. Office Depot discovered that in Canada, where just 3% of its sales were made in bricks-and-mortar stores.

And while omnichannel merchants may just be learning how to make their customers loyal to their site, Amazon has also aced that (complaints were minimal when Amazon announced its Prime rate hike). Amazon is also staying ahead of the ecommerce game with its own proprietary digital offerings (video streaming, TV, and, oh, yeah, the Kindle). Plus, there’s that whole same-day delivery thing… which is on the way in 17 cities.