Web merchants are deploying more specialized commercial applications and services to target their best customers and generate sales, according to data in Internet Retailer’s just-published 2015 edition of Leading Vendors to the Top 1000.

Web merchants are investing more in e-commerce technology, but their top priorities are in very specialized areas such as social media marketing and content delivery. That’s one of the top trends revealed in an analysis of data from Internet Retailer’s newly published 2015 edition of Leading Vendors to the Top 1000.

While vendors ranked in the 2015 Leading Vendors to the Top 1000 across all 30 categories (some appear in multiple categories) collectively grew their retailer base in terms of number of clients about 42% to 12,746 in 2014 from 8,991 in 2013, vendors in several specialized categories grew much faster. Based on the number of Top 1000 e-retailer clients, social media marketing was the fastest-growing vendor category with a customer base that grew 1072% to 129 retailers in 2014.

“Most of the big retailers and established web merchants have very capable core e-commerce systems in place that allow them to process e-commerce transactions efficiently,” says Gartner Inc. vice president and information technology analyst Gene Alvarez. “But what online shoppers really want these days is a very personalized and convenient experience, and it’s the retailers that are investing in better technology to meet those customer expectations that will survive and grow.”

The 2015 Leading Vendors to the Top 1000 is Internet Retailer’s annual ranking of the biggest vendors based on the number of Top 1000 merchants that list a particular vendor as a provider and the web sales those retailers represent. Internet Retailer bases its rankings on the retailers listed in its Top 500 Guide and Second 500 Guide that verify vendors as their provider in 30 categories. Internet Retailer also works with vendors that help identify and verify retailers and with BuiltWith, a data partner with technology that identifies certain applications on an e-commerce site such as web analytics software and content delivery networks.

Many other e-retailers are turning to technology and service providers as they grow, swelling the client counts of many vendors, according to data analysis. Based on the number of total Top 1000 clients, the leader is Google. A big selling point is that the base version of the Google Analytics software is free, though the Premium edition larger e-retailers use costs a flat fee of $150,000 per year. In terms of the most Top 1000 clients, Google is followed by McAfee Secure (PathDefender) in security certification; UPS in the shipping carrier category; Akamai in content delivery clients and shipping carrier FedEx.


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