America’s Best (and Worst) Online Retailers

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The Best

1. Amazon.com
> Rating: 88
> Type: Online superstore
> Audience: 119.8 million unique visitors

Amazon is, by most measures, the largest e-commerce website and company in America. Amazon reported revenue of $13.8 billion in its last quarter and expects sales in the current holiday quarter to be as much as $22.7 billion. To add to its already huge range of products, Amazon recently opened a wine store.

2. LLBean.com
> Rating: 85
> Type: Outdoor apparel
> Audience: 6.7 million unique visitors

The retailer of outdoor apparel and equipment celebrated its 100th anniversary this year. The private company claims its annual sales reached $1.44 billion. L.L. Bean sells clothing for men, women and children and specializes in outdoor equipment, including cross-country skis, snowshoes, camping products and hunting and fishing gear

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3. (tie) QVC.com
> Rating: 84
> Type: Fashion and accessories
> Audience: 13.4 million unique visitors

QVC, which stands for “Quality, Value, and Convenience,” has both a television and an online shopping business. The company claims its broadcasts reach more than 200 million homes worldwide. QVC’s 2011 revenue was $8.3 billion, $2.6 billion of which came from e-commerce. The company offers an extremely large array of products, including  clothing, electronics, jewelry and beauty aids. QVC is owned by Liberty Interactive Corp. (NASDAQ: LINTA).

3. (tie) Vitacost.com
> Rating: 84
> Type: Discount vitamins and health foods
> Audience: 1.4 million unique visitors

Vitacost says it “takes the cost out of healthy living.” It has the inventory to back keep up part of that promise. The company sells a large number of vitamins and supplements. It also has product selections in the sport fitness and weight loss category, beauty care, natural pet food, herbs and sexual health products, which include contraceptives. The company claims it sells more than 35,000 products.

5. (tie) Vistaprint.com
> Rating: 83
> Type: Online printing and marketing
> Audience: 5.6 million

Vistaprint is a French-based online printing and business graphics company that began its Internet business in 1998. Vistaprint claims it “has over 25 localized websites.” The great majority of the services offered at the site involve instant printing, whether it is business cards, invitations or promotional items. The company also offers help to small businesses that need websites and help marketing, traditionally or through social media.

5. (tie) Esteelauder.com
> Rating: 83
> Type: Cosmetics
> Audience: 258,000

Estée Lauder founded the beauty company in 1946. Its products are sold in department stores, and management claims they are available in more than 150 countries and territories. The Estée Lauder Companies Inc. (NYSE: EL) reported revenue of $2.55 billion in its most recent quarter. The company has a number of well-known brands, including Clinique, Prescriptives, M-A-C,Tommy Hilfiger, Donna Karan, Michael Kors and Ermenegildo Zegna.

7. (tie) 1800Contacts.com
> Rating: 82
> Type: Contact lenses
> Audience: 489,000

1800Contacts allows people to buy contact lenses online instead of from a doctor’s office or a specialty store. The operators of the website get prescription data from eye doctors, along with brand information, and will even send customers a reminder before a prescription runs out. The company claims that it has filed over 15 million orders for five million customers over the past 11 years.

7. (tie) Keurig.com
> Rating: 82
> Type: Coffee products
> Audience: 1.2 million

Keurig makes and sells coffee brewing machines and the single serving beverage K-Cups that work in the machines. This puts it into competition with companies like Starbucks Corp. (NASDAQ: SBUX) and Nestle, which markets the Nespresso product line. Keurig claims it has over 250 varieties of coffees, teas and cocoa. The cost of the brewing machine runs as high as $229.99 for the high-end Professional Brewing System. Keurig sells products for both home and work. Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc. (NASDAQ: GMCR) took control of Keurig in 2006.

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7. (tie) Scholastic.com
> Rating: 82
> Type: Children’s reading
> Audience: 4.4 million

The site is operated by Scholastic Corp. (NASDAQ: SCHL), which reported revenue of $616.2 million in the most recent quarter. Scholastic has an education division, but most of its revenue comes from children’s books. The company claims it has more than 90% penetration of the  U.S. schools market. The website is split into sections so that Scholastic can market separately to students, teachers, parents and librarians.