Among Amazon.com Inc.’s (NASDAQ: AMZN) seemingly endless arsenal of advantages over every other retailer is the 182 million visitors to its websites. No other retailer comes close.
Based on comScore data, Amazon’s 182.2 million unique visitors from mobile and computers placed fifth among all companies in October, just behind Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) at 193.8 million. The comScore top 50 multi-platform properties list has only two other retailers, which are big-box leaders Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) at 93.9 million unique visitors and Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT) at 62.1 million.
It is impossible to tell which came first to create and sustain Amazon’s traffic. Was it the traditional superstore factory, which allows Amazon to offer large selections of products across nearly countless categories, or the products and services like Prime, Alexa, Kindle and Echo? Amazon had $18.9 billion in North American sales in its third quarter, up 26% over the same quarter a year ago. Net income for this segment of Amazon’s business was $694 million, up 32% on the same basis. It is safe to say the top line will balloon in the fourth quarter, the holiday rush months.
Amazon does have a set of weapons that other retailers cannot rival at all. Prime has morphed free shipping into a suite of services that include its streaming video business, which is built partly on original programming; a music streaming business with a selection that puts it on equal footing with Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Pandora Media Inc. (NYSE: P); and photo storage capacity. According to recent research, a third of Prime members buy something from Amazon once a week. Prime members also get early access to special sales, another way to tether them to Amazon.
Amazon’s selection of consumer electronics is nearly as broad as Apple’s, and in some cases competes with the giant consumer electronics company. Amazon TV certainly competes with Apple TV, the Fire tablets with the iPad, and Echo with certain features of Siri.
No matter what the reason, for competitors, Amazon’s 182 million visitors can’t be approached.