Amazon Office Santa Clara California

Amazon is set to overtake Walmart as the largest retailer in the US within the next four years. Amazon GMV sales will reach USD $631.6bn by 2025, according to a new report from Edge by Ascential’s market research arm, Retail Insight. 

This comes as eCommerce in the US continues its meteoric rise, with US online sales expected to increase to more than USD $1 trillion ($1.204 tn) by 2025, a 41% growth on 2020 ($710.7 bn), which in itself was a bumper year for eCommerce as social distancing forced people online to fill the time and buy household essentials. 

eCommerce sales grew about 30% in 2020 from $546.3bn in 2019. In 2018, ecommerce sales were $471.3bn.  

The United States Retail Landscape and Market Planning Report 2021shows that Walmart sales will grow at 2020-2025 CAGR of 3.9% to reach USD $523.3bn by 2025, boosted by its eCommerce offering. Data from Edge by Ascential reveals that Walmart’s eCommerce sales are set to grow at a 5-year CAGR of 14.9% from $43.6bn in 2020 to $87.5bn in 2025, accounting for 16.7% of total retailer sales in 2025. 

Meanwhile, Amazon will continue to grow its third-party marketplace business model, which will account for 66% of gross merchandise value (GMV)* sales in 2025, up from 60% in 2020.    

This offers brands an opportunity to embrace the eCommerce boom by piggybacking on the marketplace’s enormous success, formidable investment in customer acquisition and growing reputation for live selling. 

Data from Edge by Ascential shows that Kroger will remain the third largest retailer in the US, with sales growing at a CAGR of 3.6% to reach $166.6bn in sales by 2025. However, Costco, which is the fourth largest, is expected to invest heavily in its digital capabilities, with its online sales set to increase by 47% over the same period, reaching $15.3bn in 2025.   

Edge by Ascential analysts forecast that eCommerce penetration in the US will grow from 22.1% in 2020 to account for 29% of total chain retail sales by 2025. This will be driven by a new generation of customers with greater expectations of immediacy and personalization. Over the next few years, Generation Z will become a bigger share of wallet for brands and retailers, who will need to focus investment in online and engage with the digital ecosystem in order to win market share.  

 “The United States is one of the biggest eCommerce markets in the world, and the growth accelerated by the pandemic opens doors for brands who must leverage digital channels and touchpoints to reach new consumers. Retailers and brands across sectors must innovate and prioritize omnichannel strategies in order to cater to fast-changing consumer demands. The lines between physical and digital retail is blurring and 5G-enabled smartphones will only accelerate this trend.”

 “As Amazon grows to become the largest retailer in the US, brands must understand they cannot win through mass personalization when faced with the huge spending power of large marketplaces like this. They should therefore ensure they have the correct strategies in place to use marketplaces, like Amazon, to reach the right consumers and meet their needs.” 

Deren Baker, CEO, Edge by Ascential

eCommerce is the only channel that is expected to grow market share in the US over the next four years, grabbing market share from supermarket and Big Box retailers. Food service and discount retailers are expected to maintain market share.  

Moreover, Edge by Ascential analysts predict that there will be a more permanent shift to online grocery even after the relaxing of social restrictions and a return to some sort of normality. During the peak pandemic period of 2020, online grocery sales accelerated, up by about 35% in 2020 to reach $30.8bn. For a fifth of online grocery shoppers in the US, this was their first time doing their grocery shop online, accelerating long-term ecommerce adoption trends. The pace of growth for online grocery will level off after the 2020 boom, but edible grocery ecommerce is still expected to grow at 13.3% CAGR between now and 2025. 

Edge by Ascential analysts urge retailers and brands not to ignore the growing significance of delivery intermediaries, such as Shipt, Instacart and Doordash in the US, as well as global hot food delivery platforms like Deliveroo and Uber Eats, which turned to the grocery category to support supermarkets with fulfilment in the early days of the pandemic crisis.

“The pandemic has permanently shifted consumer habits from in-store to eCommerce. This has implications for a brand’s go-to-market approach but also its store strategy as stores become part of an ecosystem of retailing touchpoints rather than the main event with a digital add-on. Brands must embrace digital platforms, such as marketplaces and delivery intermediaries and customize product offerings and selling strategies accordingly,”

Deren Baker, CEO, Edge by Ascential

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