RealTime IT News

AOL Usurps Amazon as Leading E-Merchant

America Online Inc. (AOL) displaced Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) in March as the leading online merchant for the first time since September of 1999, according to new figures from the NextCard eCommerce Index.

Due to high demand, the March Index was expanded to include the top 30 online merchants in terms of transaction volume, NextCard said.

"Several notable reversals occurred within the Index during the month of March beginning with AOL ," said Thomas Byrne, vice president of e-commerce at NextCard.

In terms of categories, online pet supply, pharmacy and movie merchants saw the most change in leadership positions on the Index. Sock puppet publicity (you've seen the ads) and coupon discounts by Pets.com (No. 18) contributed to a 380 percent increase in transaction volume, while Drugstore.com (No. 15) regained the top position within online pharmacies for the first time since 1999.

The elimination of heavy discounting by More.com was largely responsible for its drop in the rankings, but also contributed to a more than doubling of the average basket purchase and a 50 percent decline in transaction volume, NextCard said.

Within the online movie category, Reel.com (No. 20) reclaimed its lead over Netflix (No. 24) by increasing the number of purchases per customer more than 25 percent.

The largest gainer in transaction volume was Tickets.com, up 950 percent, followed by Totalnic.net, up 917 percent, and CarClub.com, up 829 percent.

As expected, the flower and gift merchants realized the largest percentage decline after strong Valentine sales in February, Byrne said. Also on the move, MotherNature.com and Onvia made significant volume increases, ringing up 400-plus percent sales growth, as a result of successful Web and viral marketing programs."