We have discussed how retail bounced back in 2021 and how they are preparing for the holiday rush; how has ecommerce fared during this time? It is impossible to discuss the burgeoning ecommerce sector without centering on Amazon.com Inc. and fittingly the company just concluded their annual Prime Day. The company returned Prime Day to its traditional pole position of kicking off the holiday shopping season after having an October debut last year. Early returns indicate that the two-day affair was more successful than 2020, however it may not have reached the heights of previous years. Supply chain issues and concerns over conserving stock for the holiday season could have contributed to lower-than-expected sales. The event was an overall success for a company that has racked up win after win during the pandemic. Their revenue grew by over $100 billion in 2020 and that figure overshadows any other retail company. Ecommerce exploded in size after the shut down many physical retailers and customers were stuck in their homes due to lockdowns. Other retailers have rushed to fill the empty space left by this expansion and consumers have been saddled with the wild west of ecommerce.

Online retail (TORI) and Amazon specifically have not bounced back in 2021, mostly because there was nothing to bounce back from. 2020 was a windfall for Amazon because they turned an online retail company into a worldwide conglomerate that sells… everything. You can purchase a TV and entertainment system, pay to have them install the products in your home, and then use that TV to stream a movie from Amazon Prime that was produced by Amazon Studios. That is not to mention the groceries and prescription drugs in your home that come from their site or the Amazon Web Services behind your favorite websites and devices like Alexa. This is the kind of domination that even juggernauts like Walmart can’t keep up with, try as they might. Space truly is the limit with their level of capital and it can be difficult to predict what acquisition or venture they might make next. Whichever direction they go with their new CEO, it will set the pace for ecommerce and other retailers will be waiting to take advantage.

A world as large as Amazon’s can’t be only made up of Basics and Prime products. There has been a surprising amount of room for third party sellers on their platform and the same has also become true of Walmart.com. Amazon’s gain can sometimes be beneficial to others and events like Prime Day are specifically geared to support the third party seller. The prospect of virtual shelf space holds a certain appeal over its physical counterpart, however that intrigue became a necessity when stores closed their doors. For many companies, online retailing became a lifeline to survive the pandemic, though it also drastically increased the competition. Third party sellers on Amazon and Walmart have turned into somewhat of a grab bag of variable product and service quality. The company has certain assurances attached to its “sold and shipped by Amazon” products, however the same set of protections often don’t apply to third parties. This has created a grey area where instead of fighting for traditional shelf space, companies are fighting to prove the legitimacy of their products and build consumer trust. The unpredictable nature of the third party market is also one of its greatest assets by allowing almost any kind of product or service to be sold. This marketplace saved many companies during the last year and it is likely to be a staple going forward.

This behemoth of a company has many places it wants to go over the next few years and it has all the capital to make it happen. It is hard to see any one company or collection of companies beating them at their own game, although most businesses won’t have to. A wealth of opportunities has been created by their digital platform and many more will be available in the coming years. The most successful enterprises thrived in 2020 by recognizing the importance of the online marketplace and they are gearing up for another run this year. Prime Day is over, however the holiday rush is just beginning. Now is the best time for every company to make sure they get a piece of the profits.