If Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT), the world’s largest retailer, wants to target e-commerce powerhouse Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN), it has a long way to go, at least in terms of visits to the websites of the two companies. The gulf is so large, Wal-Mart cannot possibly cross it.
According to new data from online research firm comScore, Amazon’s March unique visitors in the United States, a number that includes mobile and desktop users, reached 175.1 million. Wal-Mart’s comparable figure was 81.9 million. No other retail site made the Top 50 comScore list.
By means of comparison, Amazon ranks sixth on comScore’s list, just behind the reach of Microsoft Corp.’s (NASDAQ: MSFT) sites, at 174.5 million, which include portal MSN. The massive body of Amazon.com visits has allowed the company’s annual revenue run rate to rise to $100 billion.
Without access to private data from the two companies, outsiders cannot tell the sales yield per visitor, which stands as one key measure. Amazon most likely has some advantages on yield. These include its Amazon Prime service, which costs $99 a year. The primary benefits Amazon promotes for the service include free two-day shipping on purchases and a huge streaming video library of feature films and television programs. Wal-Mart does not have a matching program.
Amazon’s other primary advantages is its own line of consumer electronics, led by the Kindle PC tablets and Amazon Fire TV. While each of these products has competition, Wal-Mart’s online inventory does not match them. Unfortunately for Amazon, some industry analysts believe it loses money on some of these products and services.
One other issue comScore does not address is whether the Amazon and Wal-Mart brands draw in online visitors, or whether individual promotions for products and services do. Amazon can fairly place itself among the founders of online e-commerce, and it has built that brand over 20 years. Wal-Mart’s brand has not entirely escaped that of a big-box retailer. Why do people pick one over the other? Wal-Mart might have one advantage: the tens of millions of people who shop at its brick-and-mortar stores.
The difference of 93 million unique visitors puts Wal-Mart at crippling disadvantage. While it might best other brick-and-mortar retailers as measured by online audience, Amazon’s total dwarfs it.