Amazon.com Inc. has long been No. 1 in the North American e-commerce market, but it was a runner-up in the first two editions of the Internet Retailer Excellence Awards. This year, however, Amazon won the top prize, Internet Retailer of the Year, edging out finalists Dollar Shave Club, Nike Inc. and Ulta Beauty.
Internet Retailer also announced today the winners in 12 other categories of online retail and business-to-business e-commerce. The winners of the third annual Internet Retailer Excellence Awards were selected from 45 finalists, winnowed down from hundreds of nominations by panels made up of Internet Retailer editors and outside experts.
While Amazon, No. 1 in the Internet Retailer 2017 Top 500, may seem like a no-brainer for the top e-retail award every year. But in 2015 and 2016 judges marked down Amazon for producing very modest profits from its online retail business, with most of its net income coming from its Amazon Web Services cloud computing division. They reasoned that a company like Amazon that’s been selling online since 1995 should be making a money from those retail sales to be honored as the top e-retailer.
Amazon’s 300% profit growth in 2016 blew away that argument, and the e-retailer’s 24.9% growth in online retail sales by Internet Retailer’s estimate easily outpaced the 15.6% increase in U.S. e-commerce sales in 2016 as reported by the U.S. Commerce Department. Meanwhile, Amazon is putting pressure on competitors with its growing Amazon Prime loyalty program and with innovations such as its Alexa-powered devices that allow customers to speak their orders to Amazon devices such as the Echo, Dot and Tap.
Amazon’s fast-growing Amazon Business online marketplace also was a finalist in the B2B E-Commerce Player of the Year, but lost out to high-tech products distributor Tech Data Corp., which also shared the B2B E-Commerce Website Redesign of the Year award with PacknWood, a manufacturer of food packaging for restaurants.
One indication of the success of some of the web-only retailers that were finalists for these awards is that three of them have been acquired by major retailers or brands in the past year. They are: eBags (No. 155), acquired by Samsonite; Chewy (No. 57), bought by PetSmart (No. 365); and Dollar Shave Club (No. 179), which is now part of Unilever.
The Home Depot Inc. (No. 7), which introduced ship from store last year and reports 45% of online orders are picked up in its bricks-and-mortar locations, won the Omnichannel Retailer of the Award. Competitor Lowe’s Cos. Inc. (No. 25) won for the top website redesign for a new site that provides easy visibility into product availability in nearby stores and enables select manufacturers to easily insert new content into pages on Lowes.com.
Wayfair Inc. (No. 16), the online-only retailer of home furnishings that won last year’s Internet Retailer of the Year award, this year was honored as E-Retail Marketer of the Year. Wayfair last year rolled out internally developed Magellan online display advertising technology and ranked third in Internet Retailer’s Best Digital Marketers in E-commerce report.
“The competition was impressive for the third annual Internet Retailer Excellence Awards, as so many companies are doing really creative work in e-commerce,” says Molly Love, CEO of Vertical Web Media, whose publications include Internet Retailer, B2BecNews and Internet Health Management. “The 45 finalists represent a big range of companies, from big to small and across product categories. What they have in common is that they’re investing heavily in selling online and breaking new ground as they compete for market share in the increasingly competitive e-commerce arena.”
Here are the winners for each of the 13 Excellence Awards categories in bold, followed by the other finalists:
Emerging E-Retailer of the Year: Chewy, Hollar.com, MeUndies, MVMT Watches, Purple
E-Retail Growth Award: Poppin, Chewy, Leesa Sleep, Ulta Beauty
Web Redesign of the Year: Lowe’s, Califia Farms, Kate Somerville, Oliver Sweeney
E-Retail Marketer of the Year: Wayfair, eBags, Target
Best Marketing Video of the Year: Pampers, Reef, SupplyHouse.com
Best Product Video of the Year: SupplyHouse.com, Sylvane, Vurtego
B2B E-Commerce Marketer of the Year: SupplyHouse.com, DollarDays, Lightning Labels, MSC Industrial Supply Co.
B2B E-Commerce Website Redesign of the Year: PacknWood and Tech Data (co-winners), Cole-Parmer, Sullivans
B2B E-Commerce Player of the Year: Tech Data, Amazon Business, Cisco Systems, Garrett Popcorn Shops, Kimball Midwest
Mobile Commerce Award: Lancôme, eBay, RealTruck, Wayfair
Global E-Retailer of the Year: Benefit Cosmetics, Anker, Nike
Omnichannel Retailer of the Year: Home Depot, Amazon, Best Buy, DSW, Fabletics
Internet Retailer of the Year: Amazon, Dollar Shave Club, Nike, Ulta BeautyFavorite