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.”

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