Analyzing the modern e-commerce ecosystem and the most influential movers and shakers
We gathered 20 different metrics on 130 companies and 1,163 web properties globally and analyzed the data for broad trends within the retail space. We then created a formula to rank the companies by their level of social and business influence. We also analyzed trends in global retailing based on our dataset, you can view that research below.
The Top 30 Most Influential E-Commerce Companies
An influential company is not just one that generates the greatest quarterly revenue or that is the most profitable, although these are important factors. An influential company is one that exerts powerful influences on suppliers and partners, other companies, and even society as a whole. Learn more here about our research methodology.
1 – Amazon
Why Amazon is influential
Starting out initially as a bookseller with a growth-at-all-costs strategy and later expanding to other categories, Amazon’s marketplace became the “everything online store.” According to Reuters, Amazon was brought up on 130 earnings calls this August. Beyond that, even at e-commerce trade shows, it is not uncommon to see full tracks dedicated to Amazon.
Growth at all costs
Amazon’s growth-at-all-costs strategy is to focus on top-line growth at the expense of bottom-line profits. This strategy has resulted in a level of leadership in its core retail business that rivals the Sears catalog in its heyday.
Turning operations into profit centers
Amazon turned operations aspects of its business into profit centers, first with Fulfillment by Amazon and then with Amazon Web Services (AWS), which is the biggest profit driver for the company after its retail business.
Leveraging data to build private labels
One of the ways that Amazon leverages its popular marketplace is by using the data to better understand customer demand and to create private-label products to serve those needs. Unlike Walmart, which acquires established brands, Amazon’s approach is to try to build their own. From research done by Quartz, Amazon has quietly created 91 brands to sell on its platform in a number of categories.
Volume approach to hiring
Amazon has taken the same growth-at-all-costs approach to hiring. Amazon employs MBA grads at a scale that is not seen by many other companies — more than 1,000 as reported by Wall Street Journal.
2 – Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
Why Wal-Mart is influential
Wal-Mart is not only the world’s largest retailer with the highest number of sales per square foot, but it is also the world’s largest private employer. Wal-Mart products are made in more than 70 countries. At any given time, Wal-Mart is managing an average of $32 billion in inventory throughout its 11,000 stores operating in 28 countries. On top of that, Wal-Mart has made several noteworthy acquisitions in the past couple of years to try to compete more online. Wal-Mart’s influence is so vast that its impact on communities and society as a whole has been a frequent topic of academic interest in a variety of areas.
Early supply chain and logistics innovator
All in all, the supply chain and logistics infrastructure that Wal-Mart created to scale and to live up to its brand promise of low prices is among the greatest and most storied. Additionally, Wal-Mart is featured on Gartner’s list of top 25 supply chains.
Wal-Mart is also an early supply chain innovator. Among Wal-Mart’s early innovations is Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI), which makes vendors responsible for managing their products in Wal-Mart’s warehouses. Another early innovation adopted by Wal-Mart was continuous replenishment (CR), in which a vendor continuously monitors Wal-Mart’s inventory and automatically replenishes their inventory when it reaches the re-order point. CR is a more advanced approach to meeting product demand that eliminates the need to send purchase orders, reduces inventory costs for Wal-Mart, and helps the customer by ensuring that the product they want is in stock.
Acquisition spree of popular e-commerce brands
It has been well publicized that Wal-Mart is on an acquisition spree in the consumer space. Acquisitions that attracted major press attention include Jet.com, Bonobos, Modcloth, and Shoes.com. It is also rumored but not confirmed by either party that Wal-Mart is in talks with Birchbox. Only the future will tell if the acquisition spree will pay off as Walmart continues to face off against Amazon.
Biggest employer in 19 states and largest private employer in the world
According to research by Olivet Nazarene University, Wal-Mart is the largest employer, not just the largest private employer, in 19 U.S. states. This list includes populous states such as Texas and Illinois as well as less populated ones like Wyoming.
3 – Alphabet
Why Alphabet is influential
Alphabet is a major online traffic-driver in a number of categories. Through Google, their flagship property, the company’s organic search results and paid ad listings help support new and established e-commerce brands. And through their YouTube property, Alphabet helps generate demand for new products through influencer marketing as well as advertising.
However, since Amazon emerged as a juggernaut in the e-commerce space, Google’s share of shopping searches has been threatened. Also, it is not yet clear if Google’s status as a search engine is becoming a liability from a legal point of view: Alphabet was recently fined €2.42 billion for a violation of anti-trust law due to how Google Shopping is displayed in search results in contrast to other product comparison services.
Truly global scale and massive online traffic
Google is the defacto search engine in many countries, with legitimate competitors for search share in only a few regions. Out of all of the influential platforms and marketplaces analyzed, Google gets the most traffic by far.
Major platform for influencer marketing
YouTube is a huge platform for influencer marketing, with established influencers driving awareness and transactions for brands in several major consumer sectors, including electronics, cosmetics, gaming, and others.
Partnership with Wal-Mart on voice search
Google has recently partnered with Wal-Mart to deliver more effective voice search with Google Assistant, in order to better compete against Amazon Alexa’s voice search service. One interesting area of speculation around this trend surrounds whether Google, like Amazon and Facebook, will become more of a closed platform in the future, making it harder for e-commerce brands to gain visibility without paying for ads.
4 – Alibaba
Why Alibaba is influential
Alibaba has been called the Amazon of China, as it’s the most dominant e-commerce player in the world’s most populous country. 80% of Alibaba’s revenue is from core commerce, but this is likely to change as they continue to invest in other areas.
An ecosystem in its own right
Alibaba has a service called Alipay that is similar to PayPal and is widely used for online and mobile payments. Alibaba’s Taobao platform is a major hub for content in China and has social media functionalities. Taobao can be used to share product reviews or live-stream content, such as makeup or cooking tutorials. Taobao is not only a platform to purchase from: It can also be used to drive demand. Alibaba has also invested in cloud computing as well as mobile gaming to compete with Tencent.
Cornering the world’s third-largest market
Alibaba’s dominance in the third-largest market and most populous country speaks for itself. Alphabet, Facebook, Apple, and other western competitors have struggled to gain dominance in China due to legal and other challenges. It will be interesting to follow Alibaba in the coming years as they continue to scale their platform and try to gain a foothold in larger western markets.
5 – Facebook
Why Facebook is influential
Facebook has come a very long way since it was founded in 2004, and the level of impact that the platform has had on publishing, commerce, and other areas cannot be overstated. In the early days, when AOL was a dominant player in the industry, the Internet was largely made up of closed platforms. Starting largely with Google in the early 2000s, closed platforms faded until Facebook. Facebook seems to be leading a movement toward keeping users in-product as long as possible and doing whatever it takes to make that happen. Even Google is starting to take a cue from Facebook, considering its recent partnership with Wal-Mart and its efforts to show answers to queries within Google search results rather than sending users to other websites.
Targeting audiences like never before
With Facebook, advertisers have the ability to target users with greater precision than was ever thought possible by marketers of yore. Additionally, because Facebook is a closed platform, there are greater protections to ensure insulating advertisers from some of the types of click fraud present in other types of digital advertising.
Influencer marketing and new media
The power of influencer marketing is felt through many industries that have heavily relied on broadcast media in the past. One of the most powerful examples of influencer marketing to move product is the Kardashian businesses, especially Kylie Jenner’s; her $29 lipsticks generated $420 million in sales in 18 months. Much of Kylie Jenner’s fame can be attributed to her presence on social media platforms like Instagram.
6 – Baidu
Why Baidu is influential
Baidu is the dominant search engine in the third-largest consumer market and the most populous country in the world: China. Baidu had an opportunity to gain massive market share in China when Google shuttered their search engine presence there after being banned in 2010. Although relations between Google and China have improved since that time, the ban solidified Baidu’s dominance in the country.
Massive search share in the Chinese market
According to 2017 data from StatCounter, Baidu’s search share — the share of searches performed on Baidu and other search engines — was 76.06% in China. This was followed by Shenma at 8.78%, 360 Search at 7.87%, Sogou at 3.31%, and finally Google at 1.84%.
7 – Suning Commerce Group Co. Ltd.
Why Suning Commerce is influential
Suning Commerce Group is one of the biggest retailers in China that is not government-owned. It has more than 1,500 physical storefronts in many Chinese provinces and special administrative regions, such as Hong Kong. Suning also has a presence in Japan. Their operation categories include commerce, real estate development, financial services, media, entertainment, and sports.
Digital platform-building and audience
Like many western conglomerates, Suning is investing in media in a bid to increase its influence. Most recently, Suning was working to secure rights to broadcast in China soccer matches from the biggest leagues in Europe. The strategy behind acquiring the rights is to further establish the Suning PPTV video-streaming website against rivals such as Tencent. The direct access to consumer audiences that Suning is building will no doubt be a strategic advantage.
8 – Stichting INGKA Foundation, INGKA Holding B.V.
Why IKEA is influential
The IKEA group is the only organization on our list that is a foundation and not a for-profit company. IKEA is famous for their flat-pack furniture that saves on cost by requiring do-it-yourself assembly. IKEA’s emphasis on design and large profit margins on inventory have supported strong revenues.
Expanding brick-and-mortar operations
At a time when retailers are shuttering physical locations in the U.S., IKEA is looking to expand its U.S. brick-and-mortar presence from its 43 locations and move more into the heartland and Texas. Lars Peterssen, IKEA’s U.S. president, stated earlier this year to CNBC that this will allow people to experience the products in a three-dimensional way.
IKEA is not the only retailer to recognize the value of showrooming. Bonobos and made.com were experimenting with it as early as 2012.
IKEA, which has traditionally shied away from acquisitions, has recently acquired Task Rabbit, a contract labor marketplace, which IKEA plans to run as a subsidiary.
Also, IKEA is also experimenting with augmented reality (AR) in other areas, such as their app that allows you to view how a piece of IKEA furniture may look in your home. The app uses Apple’s new AR kit.
9 – Microsoft
Why Microsoft is influential
Unlike the FAANG companies, Microsoft does not derive its revenues from one or two primary sources. Microsoft audiences span business and consumer markets as well as hardware and software. Online buying does happen through Microsoft’s ecosystem over the Windows OS, which has a 37% global market share, and Bing search engine, which has 22% of search share. Also, Microsoft’s Xbox is a major platform for the nascent e-sports industry.
10 – Apple Inc.
Why Apple is influential
Like IKEA in home furnishings, what distinguishes Apple in the consumer electronics space is a focus on design. Also, Apple’s strategy of choosing very carefully which horses to ride, so to speak, led to massive wins for its hardware business. However, when we view Apple’s ecosystem through the lens of influence in retail, it’s their innovation of the brick-and-mortar space and their highly profitable selection of hardware devices and software that stands out.
One of the most profitable stores per square foot
A recent study from eMarketer and CoStar supports previous findings that Apple is the most profitable retailer per square foot, earning $5,546 per square foot. As an interesting comparison, Walmart, the largest big-box retailer on our list, makes $431 per square foot according to the same source.
Apple has also been expanding its brick-and-mortar experiences to more countries. Another innovation in Apple’s retail operation is the creation of common spaces and classes in a bid to drive store traffic. Will this be the next innovation to get people into stores beyond just showrooming?
11 – Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc.
Why Walgreens Boots Alliance is influential
As part of the holding company created in 2014, U.S retail pharmacy operations Walgreens and Duane Reade are combined with international pharmacy operations such as Boots. The company also has several online ventures, and Walgreens recently acquired the Rite Aid chain of pharmacies.
Taken together, Walgreens Boots Alliance is the largest health and pharmacy player in the U.S. and Europe and has a huge influence on the consumer market for health and daily living products.
12 – jd.com
Why Jingdong (JD) is influential
Jingdong (JD) is Alibaba’s biggest e-commerce competitor in China. One thing that makes them stand out is their rapid growth and investments in technology. JD is a major leader in advanced technologies and drone delivery, and this spring, they announced that they are planning to build 150 drone launch centers to improve delivery capabilities for customers in rural areas. Also, JD is in a strategic partnership with Wal-Mart that was expanded this year to further the integration of their platforms, supply chains, and resources within China.
13 – eBay
Why eBay is influential
eBay is a multinational online marketplace that receives a small portion of every sale using its website. Its vision is to return the economy to a circular pattern rather than allowing the majority of products to be manufactured, purchased, and eventually discarded. In the 1990s and early 2000s, eBay was a channel for individuals to sell their used items to other individuals, much like an online flea market. Today, major brands use eBay as a marketplace. While 80% of the items on eBay are new products, it remains one of the largest peer-to-peer marketplaces on the Internet. In Q3 of 2017, eBay exceeded its estimated earnings by more than $40,000,000.
Partnerships and investments
In 2017, eBay invested in Flipkart, another business on this list, which, in turn, took over operation of eBay India. In 2002, eBay bought the PayPal payment processing system, which it maintained until 2015, when PayPal was spun off into its own company. eBay also previously owned Skype before selling it in 2009. eBay currently owns StubHub.
14 – The Home Depot Inc.
Why The Home Depot is influential
The Home Depot is the world’s largest home improvement retail chain, having surpassed Lowe’s in 1989. It has more than 2,200 stores in three different countries, employing nearly 400,000 associates. The company earns roughly $90 billion annually, and its growth rate is faster than both Target and Wal-Mart. It has also worked out exclusivity deals with a variety of companies, including Behr Paints, Hampton Bay, and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.
The Home Depot found more recent success with their acquisition of other companies. It acquired Canadian retail chain Aikenhead’s Hardware in 1994, wholesale distributor Apex Supply in 1999, and home retailer Hughes Supply in 2006. The Home Depot was founded in Atlanta, GA, and has since expanded to Canada, where they now have nearly 200 stores across all 10 provinces, and Mexico, where they have more than 100 stores.
Connecting online sales and in-store visits
The Home Depot is not only the largest home improvement retail chain, but it is also the most-visited home improvement website, with more than 120,000,000 visits to its website annually. Around 50% of customers who place an order online choose to pick it up at their local brick-and-mortar store, a behavior that the company incentivizes. This has allowed them to increase foot traffic in their existing stores and limited their need to build new ones.
The Home Depot has a store that is not open to the public. It is located at Pinewood Studios in Fayetteville, GA, and is used by Hollywood movie crews in need of set supplies. Two Marvel Studios films, Ant-Man and Captain America: Civil War, made use of the private store.
15 – Liberty Interactive Corporation
Why Liberty Interactive is influential
Liberty Interactive is the parent company of several home shopping television channels, most notably QVC. QVC is broadcast to 350 million households in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, and China. These countries broadcast the network 12-24 hours per day. Outside of television retail, Liberty Interactive owns Zulily, an e-commerce website for mothers. It also owns the Home Shopping Network (HSN) and half of the Game Show Network (GSN) and has investments in Expedia and Bodybuilding.com as well.
Unifying television retail
With Amazon dominating the Internet retail space, Liberty Interactive purchased the Home Shopping Network (HSN) in 2017. This allowed the company to become the sixth-largest e-commerce website in the world while unifying the loyal television retail customer base comprised of more than 11 million shoppers. QVC and HSN are expected to earn a combined $14 billion in 2017.
16 – Rakuten
Why Rakuten is influential
Rakuten — Japanese for “optimism” — is the largest e-commerce website in Japan. It was nicknamed by the media as “The Amazon of Japan,” and it is making all the right moves to live up to that name. Ninety percent of Internet users in Japan are registered on Rakuten, and it currently hosts 40,000 different businesses. It also has purchased a number of foreign assets, transforming them into extensions of the Rakuten brand. Rakuten sponsors the jerseys for the Golden State Warriors NBA team as well as the Spanish football club FC Barcelona.
Will new acquisitions mean new services?
While it has purchased major online retailers such as Buy.com, Rakuten is showing signs that it may be looking to expand the services it offers. The recent purchase of Wuaki.tv, a Spanish streaming service, may foreshadow Rakuten challenging Netflix. Rakuten also bought BitNet, a Bitcoin payment processor, in 2016.
17 – LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE
Why LVMH is influential
Paris-based luxury goods manufacturer LVMH was formed when Louis Vuitton and Möet-Hennessy merged in 1987. After a rough period in the ’90s, it increased its market value as it acquired a number of luxury brands. As of 2017, LVMH owns dozens of luxury brands, including wines and spirits such as Hennessy, Dom Perignon, and Chandon, fashion brands such as Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs, and Dior, as well as perfumes, cosmetics, watches, jewelry, and more.
The cash cow
Louis Vuitton currently is the world’s most valuable luxury brand and is responsible for most of LVMH’s profits. In Japan, 85% of women own at least one Louis Vuitton product. The brand is referenced often in hip-hop music, and it even commissioned a song, “Signs” by Drake.
18 – VISA
Why Visa is influential
Visa is the leading brand for electronic payments and the most universal. With more than 2.4 billion cards in circulation, Visa is accepted in more than 150 countries. Visa offers a variety of credit card options. Almost 15% of consumer goods are purchased using a Visa product. Visa doesn’t actually issue its own cards, though: They partner with a number of banks who provide the cards to their customers.
A little kickback goes a long way
For every $100 spent using a Visa card, the company receives just less than 10 cents. It doesn’t seem like a lot of money until you consider just how many Visa cards there are and how often they are used. If you lined up every Visa card side by side, they would circle the Earth five times. In 2015, these cards processed $6,800,000,000,000 in transactions.
19 – Target Corporation
Why Target is influential
There are more than 1,800 Target stores and 39 distribution centers in the United States. The company employs 323,000 people. All pharmacies within Target stores are CVS pharmacies, fostering a partnership between the two brands. One-third of Target’s sales comes from its in-house brands, such as Market Pantry and Archer Farms.
Target is among the more socially progressive companies. It was the first major retailer to grant benefits to same-sex couples. Target does not sell firearms or allow customers to bring guns into stores. It was also one of the first major retailers to stock organic products, including the now well-known Burt’s Bees brand.
20 – H & M Hennes & Maurtiz AB
Why H&M is influential
H&M, a Swedish clothing retailer, has more than 4,500 stores in 62 countries. Despite a 70-year history, it was only during the past decade or so that H&M became such a retail powerhouse. This is due in part to its supply network, which allows H&M to have a constant influx of new merchandise. To keep the entire company on the same wavelength, every H&M employee, including the CEO, is required to work on the sales floor for a few days every year.
H&M partners with popular designers such as Alexander Wang, Versace, and Jimmy Choo for exclusive lines of clothing. H&M has worked with a number of celebrities as well, including Beyoncé, Madonna, and David Beckham.
H&M launched a worldwide garment collection program allowing people to donate clothing. The clothing is sometimes resold, while other times, the material is used to create different clothing. A percent of the proceeds from this program is donated to UNICEF.
21 – CVS Health Corporation
Why CVS is influential
With more than 9,700 physical stores that employ more than 250,000 people, CVS is the largest pharmacy chain in the United States. In total, its stores serve around 5 million customers every day and manage nearly 2 billion prescriptions every year. While prescriptions are certainly its largest market, CVS also sells over-the-counter drugs, cosmetics, photo-printing services, greeting cards, snacks, and more. CVS is the only pharmacy located in Target stores, as of a 2015 agreement between the two brands. CVS also owns a number of health clinics called MinuteClinics.
ExtraCare for all
Their ExtraCare program has more than 70 million members, accounting for about 25% of the U.S. population. This program contains a MyWeeklyDeals app, which gives personalized coupons to customers. In an effort to further invest in the health of its customers, CVS was also the first pharmacy to stop selling tobacco products.
22 – Sycamore Partners
Why Sycamore is influential
Sycamore Partners is a private equity firm that manages more than $3,500,000,000 in capital. Sycamore Partners owns a number of well-known companies, including Nine West, Hot Topic, Torrid, and Belk Department Stores. Many brands suffered financially prior to Sycamore’s acquisition. This was the case with Staples Inc., which was purchased by Sycamore in 2017.
Leveraging its assets
In helping ailing companies turn around, Sycamore utilizes its other assets. For example, to help Talbots recover, Sycamore provided it merchandise from a supplier it also acquired. It is not scared to jump ship, either, when one of its investments doesn’t pan out. For instance, Sycamore sold Dollar Express to its biggest competitor, Dollar General.
23 – Lojas Americanas S.A.
Why Lojas Americanas is influential
Lojas Americanas is one of the largest retail chains in Brazil. It was founded by emigrants from the United States who saw a growing need to serve a market that could not afford the luxury goods that were most commonly found. The brand continues to adapt to the needs of its consumers.
The success of Lojas Americanas is a story of proactivity. With excellent financial management and reassessment of its inventory, Lojas Americanas was profitable even during the Brazilian economic recession of the 1990s. In 1999, Americanas.com was launched. This early adoption of e-commerce made Lojas Americanas what it is today. In addition to selling their product lines via the website, Lojas Americanas hired dozens of journalists to contribute weekly news and entertainment articles.
24 – Costco Wholesale Corporation
Why Costco is influential
Costco is America’s second-largest retailer and the largest that requires a membership. With nearly 750 warehouses throughout the world, Costco offers shoppers savings by selling products in bulk, including their Kirkland Signature brand. The average Costco employee earns more than $20/hour, and 90% of these employees receive health insurance through the company.
Costco is known for having “treasures” — rare discounts on luxury items. Normally, a company would include these sales in a weekly flyer. However, Costco benefits from the mystery, encouraging customers to explore the aisles to find the deals on their own … along with other items they may impulsively put in their cart.
What really sets Costco apart from the other big-box wholesalers is that they have prepared food. Costco sells so much pizza that it is actually considered one of the biggest pizza chains in the United States. It sells more hot dogs annually than every Major League Baseball park combined. It also happens to import more wine than any other company.
25 – Best Buy Co. Inc.
Why Best Buy is influential
Best Buy is the largest electronics retailer in North America. It sells appliances, computers and entertainment software. Best Buy owns a number of the brands it sells in its stores and online, most notably the Magnolia brand of home audio and video equipment. Best Buy is also well-known for its Geek Squad, a team of experts who provide service and consulting on home electronics. Members of the Geek Squad drive Geekmobiles and make 5,000,000 house calls each year.
Pioneers of new technology
Best Buy owes much of its success to its ability to predict what customers want to buy and how they will shop for it. Best Buy was the first company to start selling DVDs in the 1990s. It was also the first company to stop selling analog television sets, relying on a solely digital base of products. Additionally, it was one of the first companies to offer gift cards.
26 – Flipkart
Why Flipkart is influential
Flipkart is the most-visited website in India and its largest e-commerce platform. Founded by former Amazon employees, it was the first Indian app to have exceeded 50,000,000 downloads. Flipkart uses a custom search engine known as Sherlock and also has a system in place to detect and remove fraudulent sellers.
Utilizing its assets
Although Flipkart was started by Indians in India, the company is legally registered in Singapore. This allows it to sell multiple brands within a single marketplace, which is not legal for Indian companies. The strategy was recognized by a number of other companies, earning Flipkart their investments.
27 – Nike Inc.
Why Nike is influential
Around 900,000,000 Nike products are sold each year throughout the 160 countries where they can be found, and 62% of all sneakers sold are Nike brand. Despite being more than 50 years old, Nike still appeals to a wide audience, including younger consumers. Its recognizability is associated with its iconic swoosh logo, patented Nike Air technology, and partnership with Michael Jordan.
The swoosh is everywhere
In 2017, the Nike logo was on the jerseys for all 30 NBA teams. Nike has designed footwear for movies, including Batman’s boots and the hoverboarding shoes in Back to the Future, Part II. Nike also owns the popular brands Converse and Hurley, though the two companies function mostly independently.
28 – Otto (GmbH & Co KG)
Why The Otto Group is influential
The Otto Group operates in more than 20 countries, but is based in Germany and France. Though it invests in a number of brands, its biggest investment is itself. The Otto Group has adapted quite a bit throughout its 60-plus-year history. More recently, it has begun to offer financial services. Today, it relies heavily on e-commerce, attempting to create new opportunities for vendors that do not typically sell products through modern channels.
The Otto Group invests in companies and brands very selectively. Its success in the U.S. is found with the recognized furniture brand Crate and Barrel. Other investments of The Otto Group include Bonprix and Witt Weiden. Through these brands, The Otto Group aims to improve its annual revenue to 17 billion euros by the end of 2023.
29 – Tencent
Why Tencent is influential
Tencent is a Chinese conglomerate with subsidiaries primarily in the technology industry. Tencent invested in a number of game developers, including Riot Games (League of Legends), Epic Games (Unreal, Gears of War), Robot Entertainment (Orcs Must Die!) and Supercell (Clash of Clans). Tencent began making its own online games, including King of Glory, a mobile multiplayer online battle game.
Taking on Facebook
Tencent earns the majority of its revenue from online gaming, but it also operates the two most popular apps in China, WeChat and QQ, which have more than 1 billion users combined, and this number is growing at a rate that may catch up to Facebook soon.
30 – TJX Companies
Why TLX is influential
TJX describes its stores as “off-price,” defining the term as a retailer that sells designer goods at lower prices. These goods include brand-name clothing for less and, as of 1992, home goods as well. There are more than 1,000 Marshalls stores and 500 TJ Maxx stores in the world. In total, these stores receive about 10,000 new items every week — sometimes on a daily basis.
Keeping prices low
TJX keeps its prices low using a team of buyers who travel throughout the year to negotiate prices from designers and vendors. They maximize the use of their store space to fit more products, meaning they do not have mannequins or other fancy displays.
Selling quicker with no sales events
Similar to Walmart’s “everyday low price” strategy, neither TJ Maxx nor Marshalls have sales events. This strategy encourages customers not to wait and to purchase an item they like when they find it, knowing it will not be marked cheaper at a later date. The amount of time between an item being put up for sale and when it is sold is four times shorter at TJ Maxx and Marshalls than it is at Macy’s and Kohl’s.
How We Defined Influence
At a basic level, influence is defined as “capacity to have effect on character, development, or behavior of someone, something, or the effect itself,” but what do we talk about when we talk about a company’s influence?
In this case, we believe that the influence is twofold: A company can influence society as a whole, and a company can influence other companies in a given ecosystem. We took the challenge on to capture both facets for this project.
In order to gather criteria for how a company may influence society, we used the European Commission report on “How Companies Influence Our Society: A Citizens’ View”.
One way to measure influence is by looking at the most influential companies. One may argue that cases of monopoly are examples of influential companies, par excellence. To gather this criteria, we used the criteria for monopoly provided in Zero to One by Peter Thiel, for its simplicity and elegance.
Our consolidated criteria based on the references above included:
- Contribution to economic growth/providing a return to investors
- Job creation and training
- Network effects
The next step was to identify data points for the criteria above for each of the companies on our list.
We started our list using a list of top companies by revenue. We chose quarterly revenue instead of market capitalization, like many other lists on the subject, because market capitalization limits our list to only publicly traded companies, which we found too limiting. We then expanded our list to include the companies with the most online sales, largest Internet companies, and so forth. To capture merger and acquisition data, we used Crunchbase, capturing counts of acquisitions and disclosed invested amounts for 2016–17.
Data was gathered from a number of different sources. We gathered the latest available quarterly revenue data, employee counts, and number of physical locations for companies using a variety of data sources, including company reports and reputable news sources. Similarweb was used to capture total traffic as well as percent direct traffic, percent referral traffic, and percent search traffic. SEMRush was used to evaluate search traffic value for both organic and paid search. Klout score was used to estimate social influence.
For the next step, we applied a weighted scoring method to rank the companies. Finally, we analyzed it for patterns along groupings of platform, online marketplace, retailer, and e-tailer.
- We captured data for companies globally, by region: Americas, Europe, and APAC.
- The focus of our research was not on supermarkets and hypermarkets, which we consider a related but separate ecosystem.
- Our research does not include mobile-app-only businesses.
- For SEMRush search traffic value, we use desktop traffic, a proxy for traffic on all devices.
- In some cases, data points were missing for certain fields. In cases of missing data, we used either a minimum value or average value for the whole set, as appropriate, to enable calculations and to avoid bias.
One of the interesting ah-ha moments we had while putting together this analysis that surprised us was the level of consolidation that is happening within retail. Major centers of acquisition activity included purchases by private equities and retailers purchasing Internet companies.
In fact, there was a sense of trying to keep up, just while we we’re putting together the research. In the time that we were compiling this analysis, we had to adjust our research to accommodate the acquisition of Staples, TaskRabbit, Rite Aid, and others.
Overall Trends In the Retail Ecosystem
Our dataset included available business metrics for revenue, online metrics like traffic and social influence, and brick-and-mortar-relevant metrics such as number of stores and employees. Take a look below at some of the trends that we noticed.
Information is provided as is and solely for informational purposes.