Walmart Keeps Huge Online Advantage

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Walmart’s (NYSE: WMT) domestic sales may have stumbled, but its online presence is still dominant. July Comscore figures show that Walmart’s sites had 38.7 million unique visitors. That is nowhere close to the world’s largest e-commerce company Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN), which had 87.1 million unique visitors.

But, Walmart far outdistances is primary rival, Target (NYSE: TGT). The number two big-box retailer had 26.5 million unique visitors in July. No other bricks-and-mortar retailer joined these two on the top 50 list.

The news may be good for Walmart, but it is bad for rivals Costco (NASDAQ: COST), Best Buy (NYSE: BBY) and Sears Holdings (NASDAQ: SHLD), which owns Kmart and Sears. It is widely believed among analysts that e-commerce is the single most critical part of the retail industry, and that importance will only grow.

The trouble for the tier of retailers below Walmart and Target is that there is likely no way for them to increase their online presences. Amazon is the destination of choice for e-commerce shoppers, and the array of products that it offers now approaches what most department and discount stores offer on their websites and in stores as well. This has begun to leave the bricks-and-mortar businesses to make what money they can on customers who insist on seeing and comparing items physically. That may not even hold customers who “shop” in stores and then go online to get their best bargains.

The Comscore data is bad for 99% of the retail industry, and the problem worsens by the day.

Douglas A. McIntyre