E-Commerce: Just a Few Brands Will Remain

A blog post by Compete about Amazon and the competitive impact of its “free shipping” Amazon Prime service got me thinking again.

The top “e-commerce” sites list in the US is already dominated by the online destinations of major retail brands:

  • Wal-Mart
  • Sears
  • BestBuy
  • Target
  • Etc.

This is likely equally true in Europe.

But you say: there are high-profile online only sites such as Zappos, NewEgg, Overstock and others, including and especially Amazon. Many of these sites have considerable loyalty.

I say that’s true but the day of millions of no-name e-tailers being able to compete for online transactions is probably done for the foreseeable future — the victim of a bad economy, consumer loyalty to a few retail brands and the growth “local product inventory infrastructure” (“where can I buy it now/today in my area?”).

Putting aside Travel, which is a different case, product-based retail e-commerce will continue its incremental growth but a diminished universe of “online brands,” such as Amazon or unique sites such as Etsy, will prevail while large numbers of other pure-play e-commerce sites will fail. What remains will largely involve multi-channel efforts by established offline brands.

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Related: Here’s something I hadn’t thought about from Mary-Jo Foley: the CircuitCity liquidation removes one of the principle distribution points for Windows PCs:

(Circuit City was one of the main venues Microsoft was planning to place its “Gurus,” by the way. And the online buying guide still doesn’t address the “kick the tires” aspect of PC shopping I’m wondering about….)

How do you compare PCs these days? Where do you go to evaluate real — not virtual — new Windows machines?

While you can still go to places like BestBuy, Office Depot and several others, CC was a high profile venue for the PC that will very soon be gone.

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