Report: Walmart Overtakes eBay In U.S. Online Commerce Market Share

Curbside pickup at Walmart store

MarketWatch reports citing data from eMarketer that in May, Walmart’s online sales surpassed eBay in market share of U.S. ecommerce sales. Amazon still leads the way in the number one spot dominating online commerce.

In February, eMarketer published a graphic still showing eBay ahead of Walmart by .6 percentage points. This switch at the number two spot seems to show a huge jump by Walmart to surpass eBay at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States.

If this change at the number two spot continues will probably depend on the stickiness in consumer shopping behavior seen during COVID-19.

Big-box retailers, including Walmart, leveraged their BOPS (Buy Online – Pickup in Store) models as COVID-19 lockdowns forced consumers to buy more everyday goods online.

It’s possible Walmart was able to surpass eBay in this relatively brief period of time because Walmart enhanced its buy online / curbside pickup service.

This could explain the quick rise in online sales by Walmart that allowed it to surpass eBay in just three months as consumers quickly adapted to a “new way” of shopping.

But Walmart wasn’t alone in making rapid changes to its operations to accommodate online shopping and offer curbside pickup during the height of COVID-19.

Even today, retailers are continuing to improve their BOPS operations as it’s possible many consumers may stick with this shopping model for the foreseeable future, if not forever.

eBay Faces Challenges To Maintain Online Market Share

For over a decade, Amazon has been dictating the online commerce space by continuing to push for more convenience and better service. This has changed consumer expectations when ordering online.

The biggest challenge for eBay has been trying to convince sellers they have to keep up with the changes in consumer expectations, most of which include:

  • Quality listings with good product images and descriptions
  • Free and fast shipping
  • Easy returns
  • Free returns in select categories such as fashion

In fairness, meeting these expectations is difficult for small sellers as they do not have the scale of Amazon, but eBay has also failed to provide viable solutions to help its sellers.

Amazon’s marketplace for third-party sellers is thriving because of the Amazon FBA program. While offloading fulfillment doesn’t solve all pain points, it makes a huge difference.

Now it appears BOPS will become the next challenge for eBay and its sellers. As more consumers gain confidence in BOPS, they will use BOPS to order from their local big-box retailer.

This will further increase consumer spending online, but also shift that spending to the local big-box stores. It may even impact Amazon a little, but the company is mitigating the impact of BOPS by expanding same-day delivery and offering more products next-day.

But for eBay, this represents another hurdle as the company tries to turnaround it’s U.S. sales slippage. eBay reports total seller sales as GMV (Gross Merchandise Volume).

In the first quarter of 2020, online commerce in the U.S. grew by 14.8 percent over last year, while eBay’s U.S. GMV decreased by nearly 4 percent over the same period.

The math doesn’t look good for eBay. Unless the company can muster a huge turnaround in U.S. GMV, it’s market share will continue to erode and Walmart may have secured the number two position for good.

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