According to eMarketer’s updated forecast, the Top 10 e-commerce companies will grow their combined market share by 2% this year (from 58.2% to 60.1%).

Our CLIKK Notes should save you some effort on the details. Starting with the obvious note…

COVID is the culprit. Duh. Still, for the good of the record, the main reasons are (1) bigger players have way more resources, both for pivoting business operations and for soaking up damages, and (2) consumers have always been likelier to turn to bigger sellers for shopping essentials in times of crisis. To enhance the latter point, consider what’s historically unique about COVID:

It’s an exceptionally big, sad mess. In the broad category of Natural Disasters, COVID is bigger than Katrina—which, wow, it’s a little disturbing to be able to write that out and think “yep” rather than hitting Backspace.

It’s also just… highly unusual. It’s weird enough that pandemics are invisible and you can “sense the storm” on a beautiful day. But also, COVID is selective; it only affects people, whereas a massive storm destroys everything indiscriminately. The strange combination of effects: (1) business slows, and for a long period, but never completely stops like it would during a hurricane, and (2) consumers’ definition of “value” shifts semi-permanently, and their consumption patterns with it.

Amazon, Walmart, and Target are the biggest winners lately. Target’s a winner because they have the fast-growing annual sales for this year (+52% growth vs. last year). Walmart’s a winner because their annual sales are growing similarly fast (+44%) and they’re poised to take the #2 spot from eBay during this year. Amazon’s a winner because they stay in Spot #1, and because Amazon’s e-com market share will grow by about 1% this year (like Walmart’s).

All three have tremendous online-selling infrastructure, and two of them also have substantial retail infrastructure. But here’s the thing to notice: these are the best three sellers in the U.S. for one-stop shopping and essential goods. Before COVID, one-stop shopping was mostly just a matter of convenience; after COVID, it was also a matter of personal safety.

On that note, our final observation:

‘Safety’ wasn’t part of eMarketer’s cited consumer polling. Where eMarketer mentions consumers’ biggest value factors in their e-com choices, Safety isn’t included—only typical factors like product quality and delivery speed. Yet safety is the invisible wire suspending all those other factors in a post-COVID world.

Simply put: to say that “consumers shop online largely because they value their safety” is common sense by now, but it would have sounded silly and paranoid just last year. So we don’t intend this as criticism—just as an observation of how consumer researchers have had to start shifting their inquiries. (Their data is from March, before all of this stuff had “sunk in.”)

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