Becoming an eCommerce top player takes time

52% of the top 250 U.S. online stores were launched before 2001

The majority of today’s biggest online stores have been around for quite some time. Of course, measuring time in the digital world follows different standards, but considering that the world wide web is only a few decades old, one can definitely say that pioneers like Amazon or Apple have a long eCommerce tradition. They were among the first to set foot in the unknown terrain of online trade, had brilliant and sustainable business models, lost many competitors along the way and climbed to the top spots in the ever more lucrative eCommerce market. Many of today’s most successful online stores have a similar story – only few had a steep “overnight” career. But there are also exceptions to the rule, as’s analysis of the launch years of the top 250 online stores by net sales in the U.S. reveals:

When taking a look at the launch years of the top 250 U.S. online stores1 for which launch year information is available, it turns out that most of them were launched in 2001 or earlier – 52% of the stores analyzed2 or a total of 98. The years between 1999 and 2001 were in fact the strongest launch period: 26% of the online stores that are among the most successful in the U.S. today went live around the turn of the millennium. Many of the top dogs, however, were born even earlier: – the number one U.S. online store by net sales in 2019 – was launched as early as 1995. – currently in rank 3 in the U.S. net sales comparison – went online in 1997. Not all big players have been around for that long, though. There are two stores among the current U.S. top 10 that had a steeper career: (rank 7) and (rank 9) were both launched in 2011. But it still takes a few years until an online store generates enough net sales to play among the most successful – the youngest stores among the current U.S. top 250 were launched in 2014 ( and, and 2015 ( Just like in any other business – experience and reputation apparently build success.


1: Top 250 online stores by eCommerce net sales in the U.S. in 2019.

2: The analysis includes a total of 189 online stores, for which launch year information is available.

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November 2020