Top Ecommerce Players Outpace Global Retail Market

Chinese firms Alibaba and are growing their revenue at a mighty clip

Author: Rahul Chadha

October 6, 2017

The rise of ecommerce within retail is showing no signs of a slowdown. The world’s largest ecommerce companies are seeing revenue growth figures that significantly outpace those of the wider retail sector, according to new data from UK-based OC&C Strategy Consultants.

The firm analyzed some 4,000 retailers across about 20 markets to develop its retail growth index. They found that Amazon, along with Chinese ecommerce giants Alibaba and, experienced an average revenue growth rate of 30% in 2016, compared with a 4.3% average growth rate for retailers worldwide.

All three of the ecommerce companies also cracked the list of top 10 global retailers as measured by absolute revenue growth. However, Amazon topped all other retailers by a significant margin, with £23.5 billion ($31.7 billion ) in revenue growth for the year. placed a distant second, with £8.0 billion ($10.8 billion), while Alibaba just made the list in 10th place with £2.9 billion (3.9 billion).

However, in terms of percentage growth, and Alibaba outstripped Amazon.

The three digital commerce titans have parallels and contrasts. For instance, Amazon and Alibaba can no longer accurately be described as internet pure plays.

Not only has Amazon taken a place in the physical world with its purchase of Whole Foods, but it has been testing a variety of brick-and-mortar concepts such as its cashierless Amazon Go store.

Alibaba, for its part, has been moving to establish a brick-and-mortar presence for quite some time as part of a strategy it describes as “New Retail.”

The premise of New Retail is in essence a goal of providing a true omnichannel experience that will let consumers move seamlessly between online and offline channels. Alibaba’s New Retail efforts can be clearly seen in its Hema supermarkets, which allow consumers to shop for groceries using a mobile app and an in-store experience. and Alibaba, meanwhile, have both moved aggressively into Southeast Asia through acquisitions and investments.

In June, Alibaba upped its stake in Southeast Asia ecommerce platform Lazada to a significant majority with a $1 billion investment, and in August dropped another $1.1 billion in Indonesia-based ecommerce platform Tokopedia.

For its part, put $500 million toward a joint ecommerce and financial tech venture with Thailand’s large retail-focused conglomerate Central Group.

Amazon, by contrast, has not expanded aggressively in Southeast Asia, only launching its first service in the region in July, when it began offering its Prime Now service in Singapore.