Offline Brands Bringing E-Commerce to the Masses

As Internet-only retailers struggle with profitability, and the all important holiday season approaches, research from Nielsen//NetRatings found the big offline brands that dominate retailing in the United States are driving mainstream shoppers online.

According to Nielsen//NetRatings’ June 2001 at-home data. led the top brick-and-mortar mass retailers, attracting more than 2 million unique visitors and soaring 133 percent since last year. JCPenney followed a close second, jumping 34 percent to 2 million unique visitors. Kmart took the No. 3 spot with nearly 1.7 million visitors. seized the highest percentage growth among the brick-and-mortar
sites, skyrocketing 142 percent in June 2001 to more than 1.6 million visitors, compared to 672,000 visitors last year. Rounding out the top five was, drawing nearly 1.6 million visitors.

“The top five brick-and-mortar mass retailers are enjoying success in converting their regular offline customers to online shoppers, even matching and exceeding 34 percent year-over-year growth of online giant,,” said Sean Kaldor, vice president of analytical services, NetRatings. “It’s been a close online race among the top traditional mass retailers, but the bottom line is that having strong brand recognition and a large established customer base has proven to be a winning formula for brick-and-mortars.”

A June 2001 eCommercePulse survey of 37,000 Web users by Nielsen//NetRatings and Harris Interactive found that the top five brick-and-mortar mass retailers generated revenue from a broad range of product categories. The survey measures 14 product categories: Auctions, Books, Clothing/Apparel, Computer Hardware and Software, Electronics, Fitness/Sports Equipment, Flowers/Gifts/Cards, Health/Beauty, Home/Garden
Music, Toys, Travel Services and Video.

What’s interesting about the leading offline brands is that they seem to be succeeding in areas where online-only retailers struggled, but where the offline brands have traditionally been strong. Among the top five offline brand retailers, the Clothing and Apparel category was the top revenue generator, followed by Home and Garden, Toys, Health and Beauty and Video.

“The traditional mass retailers’ broad product selections have found areas of unexpected success,” Kaldor said. “While Home and Garden is not a major e-commerce category in general, it is the second most popular among the top brick-and-mortar merchants.”

According to the eCommercePulse survey, online spending across 14 product categories spiked 71 percent for all merchants in the past year to $5.3 billion in June. Offline spending generated by online shopping rose to nearly $5.5 billion.

Top Mass Retailers by Unique Audience
(U.S. at-home users)
Rank Property Unique Audience Percent
June 2000 June 2001
1. 875 2,039 133%
2. JCPenney 1,489 2,000 34%
3. Kmart* 1,214 1,649 36%
4. 672 1,629 142%
5. 1,299 1,598 23%
*Kmart was called in June 2000
Source: Nielsen//NetRatings

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