Ecommerce has seen a surge of new businesses and customers over the past few years.
In response to the pandemic, small business owners took their stores online, while consumers turned to online shopping to procure necessities and even relieve stress.
The U.S. Census Bureau announced U.S. retail ecommerce sales in the first quarter of 2023 reached $272.6 billion, up 3 percent from the last quarter of 2022. Sales from ecommerce platforms accounted for 15.1 percent of total retail sales, up from 13.6 percent. eMarketer projects that U.S. ecommerce retail sales will reach 6.57 trillion dollars in 2023.
If you're interested in riding out this ecommerce trend, there is no better time to start an ecommerce business than today.
However, before starting your online shop, it's a good idea to take a page from the top ecommerce sites in the U.S. to learn their secrets for success. In the following examples, take note of their use of ecommerce best practices, as well as their use of classic web design principles.
Read on to discover:
- Top 10 ecommerce websites
- Tips for building top ecommerce sites
- Final thoughts: Top ecommerce sites in the U.S. in 2024
Sell your products online, worry-free
Getting started in ecommerce is easy with WooCommerce
Top 10 ecommerce websites
These are the top 10 ecommerce sites in the U.S. If you want to learn more about what makes them stand out, keep reading.
Estimated monthly traffic from the U.S.: 942.3 million
The name Amazon is synonymous with ecommerce and is the top ecommerce site by sales in the world.
Founded in 1994 by Jeff Bezos, the Seattle ecommerce giant began as a humble bookstore startup. Over the last 30 years, Amazon has undergone tremendous ecommerce growth, with a market value exceeding $1 trillion.
Besides allowing customers to shop for branded products, Amazon lets users sign up for seller accounts on its online marketplace. While Amazon dabbled with an auction model in the late 90s, integrating a third-party marketplace in 2000 was the real game changer. Not only was this a lucrative move for the company, but it provided a new way of generating revenue for individuals and small business owners.
Now known as the “everything store,” it dominates the industry and has set the standards for online retailers. Two-day shipping with an Amazon Prime membership revolutionized how people purchase and receive their products. But, unfortunately, it’s also nurtured a culture of instant gratification – with many people looking for other options if their desired products won’t arrive quickly enough.
Amazon isn’t just an online store. AmazonFresh added grocery delivery to their offerings. Amazon Studios generates its own movies and TV shows, and the Amazon Prime app lets you view, rent, and purchase movies. Amazon Web Services, one of the most extensive cloud-based storage and computing providers, offers hosting solutions for businesses of all sizes.
Estimated monthly traffic from the U.S.: 538.4 million
Founded by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, Apple has been synonymous with cutting-edge technology for close to 50 years. The Silicon Valley darlings introduced the Apple I in 1976 after being inspired by Homebrew Computer Club meetings — a community group of electronics enthusiasts that spawned foundational technologies we still use today. The company introduced many firsts and innovated existing tech, from the home computer to smartwatches.
Apple wasn’t always the successful company it is today. Though their Apple II commercial was praised, the product was underwhelming. It made personal computers accessible, but customers complained of poor speeds at a high price point.
In the early 2000s, the introduction of the iPod thrust Apple back into the forefront of the tech game. MP3 players were all the rage – but none were as successful as the iPod, whether due to its sleek design or clever marketing. The iPod put a whole music library in your pocket and was the first portable music device to hold 1000 songs. After the iPod debuted, Apple introduced the iTunes Music store, allowing customers to purchase music through an online marketplace easily.
Apple continued to innovate. The iPad, the company’s tablet offering, has become a vital tool for artists, avid readers, and parents. Eventually, Apple moved away from towers and began marketing all-in-one computers and the MacBook series. However, the most pervasive product in their lineup was the iPhone, first released in 2007. Nearly 20 years later, you’re either iPhone or Android.
The iPhone was most people’s first smartphone introduction and needed something more than calling capabilities to be considered innovative. That’s where apps came in. First, the iPhone was bundled with a few basics, giving it an edge over its predecessor, the Personal Digital Assistant (PDA). Then, as the internet and online marketplaces grew in popularity, Apple stayed on trend and made the App Store available.
Software exclusive to MacOS, the Apple operating system, is one reason many designers prefer Apple products. The simplicity combined with the hardware typically provides better performance and user experience. Even some movie studios use Mac software – movies like John Carter, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and No Country for Old Men were all edited on Final Cut Pro, an Apple-owned application. Apple’s Logic Pro X is also used for movie scoring and is a popular Digital Audio Workstation (DAW).
Apple makes everything a lot simpler. The Apple online store goes beyond just ordering products. You can engage with a specialist to help you make purchase decisions, engrave a product, or even set up an appointment for the Genius Bar.
Estimated monthly traffic from the U.S.: 253.3 million
Founded in the U.S. in 2005, Etsy is one of the best ecommerce platforms for sellers dealing with handcrafted or vintage items. With over 2.5 million vendors selling to over 40 million shoppers worldwide, Etsy has made a good name despite its very niche business.
As necessity is the mother of invention, it’s no surprise that Etsy was created due to frustration with finding ecommerce options for independent artists and creators. So the Robert Kalin, Chris Maguire, and Haim Schoppik team created the website to solve that problem – and did just that. Though initially, the site only attracted a few hundred sellers, word spread fast, and interest skyrocketed.
What sets Etsy apart from other online marketplaces is its integrated community. Sellers have access to forums and teams. Customers can message back and forth with sellers without hassle. They also have education and training initiatives.
Etsy has continued to grow and eventually began including vintage items, craft supplies, and non-tangible/digital items such as graphics, custom images, and even psychic readings. In 2013, Etsy changed its policies and began allowing sellers to work with outside manufacturers. This decision was criticized as the company was founded to help independent artists. Generally, the move is accepted as favorable now due to the ease in business scaling the new policy provided.
Recently, Etsy has taken a cue from other businesses and introduced eco-friendly initiatives like a carbon offset program. It also has begun to support marginalized communities by highlighting Black-owned companies and becoming an on-ramp for entrepreneurs in developing countries.
Etsy is one of the few businesses on this list that is solely an online enterprise. As of 2023, Etsy has nearly 6 million active sellers and 90 million active buyers across the globe. Etsy became a publicly traded company in 2016, and is traded on the NASDAQ exchange.
Estimated monthly traffic from the U.S.: 222.1 million
An established name since the 1960s, Walmart is America’s largest multinational retail corporation, operating a chain of hypermarkets, department stores, and grocery stores in the U.S., Mexico, and Canada.
Walmart was founded by Sam Walton in 1962 in Arkansas to provide customers with quality items at low prices.
It’s no surprise that Walmart is one of the top ecommerce sites in the world. With over 2.2 million employees and over 11,000 stores worldwide, Walmart is the world’s largest employer and retail company by revenue.
Walmart.com offers products in various categories, including groceries, home goods, clothing, electronics, and more. In addition to ordering items that can be delivered to customers’ homes, Walmart.com also offers in-store pickup, curbside pickup, and same-day delivery (depending on location).
Like most online stores, Walmart.com also has an app where customers order, reserve time slots, fill and renew prescriptions, and more.
Besides listing and selling items on its website, Walmart also has an online marketplace called Walmart Marketplace, founded in 2009. Like Amazon and Etsy, Walmart.com allows third-party sellers to sell products on their site, expanding the company’s offering and increasing revenue.
Walmart embraced technology and now utilizes artificial intelligence and machine learning to develop proprietary algorithms. This has maximized efficiency and optimized inventory, which is particularly important when the country is still experiencing supply chain issues.
Walmart continues to expand and innovate – in the last decade, they’ve acquired Jet.com, Modcloth, Bonobos, and many other companies that allow the mega-brand to have a hand in many industries that manufacture their products.
Estimated monthly traffic from the U.S.: 151.1 million
Founded in 1997 by Pierre Omidyar, eBay is one of the pioneers in the ecommerce space. It is also one of the success stories of the dot-com bubble in the late 1990s.
In 1995, eBay began as “AuctionWeb,” Omidyar’s initial company, before being renamed in 1997. eBay started as an online auction website for collectibles and hard-to-find items. It quickly became very popular with customers and expanded to various goods.
The then-unique business model allowed individuals to bid on items rather than outright buy them. Over the years, eBay struggled with fraudulent sellers, counterfeit items, and other issues common to running an ecommerce business.
Through the implementation of verification programs, buyer protection policies, and improved payment gateways, eBay has mitigated most of the issues encountered in years prior. In addition, the acquisition of Paypal led to an improved checkout experience and broadened the scope of the company’s holdings.
Not wanting to fall behind, eBay developed an app enabling people to bid on, monitor, and purchase items on the go. It has also utilized improved algorithms to bring sweeping changes to search features and product recommendations.
With over 185 million active users, eBay is now one of the largest ecommerce platforms in the world.
6. Home Depot
Estimated monthly traffic from the U.S.: 141.8 million
Home Depot is the U.S.’s largest home improvement retailer, making it the go-to website for home improvement supplies.
Home Depot was founded in 1978 by Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank. In just three years, the company went public. By 1990, there were 100 stores across the country. Since then, they’ve continued to expand and even acquired other chains of home improvement stores.
Some of the challenges Home Depot has faced include dealing with competitors. Stores like Lowe’s, Menard’s, True Value, and Ace Hardware have made significant strides and are formidable competitors. Another issue they grappled with was customer service. True to company values, Home Depot redesigned store layouts and provided training programs to alleviate issues.
In 2000, the company launched its ecommerce site. Initially, the website had several issues, such as poor loading times and limited search options. To improve this, they redesigned their site infrastructure and added features to enhance the customer experience.
They’ve continued to innovate by releasing a mobile app. The app utilizes augmented reality which enables customers to “place” the items they’re considering in their homes to get an idea of what it would look like in their space. They also have digital tools that customize recommendations based on user preferences and existing searches.
Today, the Home Depot site provides customers with same-day delivery and curbside pickup options. They also utilize reviews so customers can hear from real people who have already purchased items they want.
As a company, Home Depot strongly believes in both sustainability efforts and corporate responsibility. As a result, they implement carbon footprint-reducing policies, invest in employee training, and host workshops for both adults and children, both digitally and in-store.
The now-top ecommerce company started in 1978 and operates over 2,200 stores in the U.S., Mexico, and Canada.
Estimated monthly traffic from the U.S.: 126.1 million
Target is the eighth-largest retailer in the U.S. and the second-largest department store after Walmart. It began as Dayton Dry Goods Company – a small group of high-end department stores in Minnesota and the upper midwest.
The first Target store opened its doors in 1962. Like Walmart, the intention was to provide customers with high-quality products at affordable prices. The stores quickly gained popularity, and Target expanded throughout the United States.
A massive factor in Target’s growing popularity was its heavy focus on marketing campaigns. It also partnered with big-name designers and celebrities like Isaac Mizrahi, Chrissy Teigan, and Lilly Pulitzer.
In 1999, it relaunched its existing website as an ecommerce site. Initially part of their discount retail division, it has become a significant facet of the company’s revenue. Initially embroiled with security and data privacy concerns, Target invested significantly in improving security measures.
In 2019, Target opened its website to third-party sellers through its Target Plus program, an invite-only online marketplace designed to expand the product selection on Target’s website with goods from third-party sellers.
Its ecommerce platform allows you to order and ship direct, place curbside pickup orders, and it also offers same-day shipping. You can also use the app for their rewards program, to accrue votes on how much funding local charities receive, and to create shopping lists.
As of 2023, Target is one of the largest retailers and one of the top ecommerce sites in the world. There are 1,900 stores in the U.S. alone.
Estimated monthly traffic from the U.S.: 106.0 million
Nike is an American multinational footwear and sportswear company founded in 1964. It is headquartered in Beaverton, Oregon. Originally known as Blue Ribbon Sports, Nike began as a distributor for a Japanese shoe brand. Their humble beginnings saw founders Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman selling the sneakers outside sporting events from the trunk of their car. Now, they are the largest supplier of athletic shoes in the world.
Known for its iconic "Just Do It" slogan, the brand partners with countless sports stars and celebrities for collaborations. Their online store is massively popular with sneakerheads — the sneakers have become collectibles and are highly sought after.
Nike expanded quickly throughout the 80s and 90s. They began producing apparel as well. The highly successful marketing campaigns were essential to their growth, featuring legendary athletes like Michael Jordan, Andre Agassi, and Tiger Woods.
Nike dabbled in ecommerce in the mid-90s, but their ecommerce site officially launched in 1999. Over time they’ve introduced new features, incorporated personalized recommendations, and integrated social media.
The turn of the century brought serious competition, leading to challenges for the company. They also experienced controversy when their labor practices came into question. So, in 2002, they began auditing the factories that handle the production of their products to mitigate those issues.
Today, Nike is not just one of the largest athletic brands globally, it’s one of the biggest brands. Nike is sold in over 200 countries and continues to innovate and grow as one of the top ecommerce sites.
Estimated monthly traffic from the U.S.: 97.1 million
Samsung is a multinational manufacturer of electronics components and appliances. The South Korean company was founded in 1938 and was originally a small company that traded goods with China. It is now the largest manufacturer of mobile and smartphones in the world. The company additionally manufactures displays for companies like Apple, Sony, and Nokia.
It wasn’t until the 60s that Samsung entered the electronics business and began selling products like air conditioners, microwaves, refrigerators, and personal computers. What’s more, they began significantly investing in research and development. Samsung released its first mobile phone in 1988 and quickly became one of the world’s leading electronics companies. They’ve become a trusted brand of HD televisions, MP3 players, and digital cameras. In 2009, they released the first Galaxy smartphone, a model that defined the market for users who resisted the charms of Apple’s iPhone.
The Samsung online store is an online portal to purchase their complete line of commercial products, from phones to computers, microwaves to washing machines, and even custom-made appliances.
One of the earliest significant electronics brands to run an ecommerce site, Samsung.com was launched in 1995. It was more than just a way to buy and checkout — it was meant to increase product accessibility too. Samsung’s ecommerce site has a knowledge base full of user manuals, troubleshooting guides, and various options for customer support. The company also maintains a blog providing product updates and news.
This top ecommerce site continues to bring innovative products to market, including foldable smartphones and the 5G network, enabling the company to stay leaps and bounds above the competition.
10. Best Buy
Estimated monthly traffic from the U.S.: 71.6 million
Best Buy is a multinational consumer electronics retailer. It started its business as an audio specialty store in the 1960s. In 1983, the company became Best Buy and switched focus to consumer electronics.
Known for its strong focus on customer service, in 2002, Best Buy acquired the tech service company GeekSquad. This merger provided customers with both on-site and at-home service. In addition, Best Buy now offers additional services like home installations of products, repairs, and more.
Best Buy has also been one of the major music and entertainment stores, stocking a variety of CDs, vinyl records, DVDs, and Blu Rays.
As online shopping continues to gain a foothold in total retail spending, Best Buy has also shifted focus to ecommerce. The Best Buy ecommerce site was initially solely on electronics and appliances. However, they’ve expanded to automation products, mobile devices, computers, and laptops in recent years.
Over the last decade, the Best Buy website expanded offerings and features, including price match, a better ecommerce user experience, improved search functions, and recommendations based on browsing and purchase history.
Today, as one of the top ecommerce sites in the U.S., Best Buy offers a wide range of items across several product categories, including electronics, furniture, fitness, and baby products. There are over 1,000 stores in North America.
Tips for building top ecommerce sites
As you can see on our top ecommerce sites list, online marketplaces make up the first five items, while custom ecommerce websites make up the remaining five.
However, whether it is an online marketplace or a custom ecommerce website, you'll notice that top ecommerce sites have several website features in common.
You may not be able to spot some of them immediately, but here's the good news — we've compiled them for you.
So, if you're ready to build your online store website, take note of the following website tips to design a top ecommerce site of your own.
Focus on a user-friendly design. There is a lot of thought that goes into designing websites. As a result, the top ecommerce sites have modern web designs that are easy to navigate, fast-loading, and responsive on both desktops and mobile devices.
Because ecommerce sites have a lot of large files (like product images), they are only sometimes the fastest. Therefore, page load speed is an SEO ranking factor that can affect how potential customers use your website and how it appears on search engine results.
Here are some other ecommerce website best practices:
- Choose the right web hosting provider.
- Optimize images.
- Focus on strengthening your website’s SEO. Optimize for ecommerce SEO, especially product page SEO, with an ecommerce content strategy. Be sure to include ecommerce link building in your approach.
- Enable caching.
- Use a content delivery network (CDN).
- Build a beautiful homepage. A website’s homepage is the online version of a storefront. Create a homepage inspired by these beautiful homepage design ideas.
- Follow ecommerce UX best practices.
- Emphasize website security. Top ecommerce sites must be secure because they deal with customers’ sensitive personal information and financial data. Ensure that your ecommerce store has an SSL certificate and is PCI-compliant.
- Provide multiple payment gateways. Top ecommerce sites cater to customers from different countries. Although most shoppers are comfortable using PayPal or credit cards, other customers may prefer different payment methods.
- Offer thorough product information. Customers can't see the products in an online store firsthand. Therefore, top ecommerce sites must give users comprehensive information about the merchandise on their listings and product pages. The standard is detailed product descriptions and high-quality images.
Final thoughts: Top ecommerce sites in the U.S.
Ecommerce is growing and will continue to do so in the coming years.
If you've found inspiration in our top ecommerce companies list and decided you want to start an online business of your own, all you need is a solid foundation.
That's where managed WooCommerce from Nexcess comes in.
It's easy to get started with WooCommerce. You can pick a theme, add your products, and start selling from your online store with a few clicks.
So, what are you waiting for? Check out our managed WooCommerce plans to get started with ecommerce today.
This blog was originally published in November 2021. It has since been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.