As 2018 closes out, it’s time to take stock of how the landscape of retail changed this year.  The shift to digital sales continued, unsurprisingly, but the brick-and-mortar side had some fantastic successes as well. The top retailers didn’t shift too much from the last few years, but the moves they made to stay ahead will ripple through the retail market quickly in 2019.  We already know Black Friday was strong for retailers, but we are getting a bigger end-of-year picture of what the entire 12 months looked like for the biggest retailers.

The Top 5 In Sales

Let’s look at the top retailers by sales in 2018:

  1. Walmart
  2. Kroger
  3. Amazon
  4. Costco
  5. Home Depot

The top 5 are nearly identical from the past few years, namely due to the strides each retailer took to stay ahead. Wal-Mart continued to expand its grocery offerings by building their new stores to cater to the grocery market.  It also retooled existing stores and focused on improving the omnichannel experience for consumers heading into Black Friday.   This should come as no surprise.  We detailed right here in the Worldlink blog in October what innovation was doing for Walmart.

Kroger began testing “Kroger Edge,” using digital displays on shelves to give customers pricing and nutritional information, as well as coupons.  The supermarket chain also saw the evolution of its mobile ordering effort, ClickList Pickup emerging with a new name in September.  The ordering is now called Kroger Grocery Pickup.

Amazon also threw its hat into the grocery ring with its acquisition of Whole Foods Market at the beginning of the year.  Amazon will look towards a more efficient consumer experience in-store at some of the bigger Whole Foods locations.  A recent Fortune article detailed plans for a cashierless shopping experience.

Costco also worked hard to implement an omnichannel experience.  And Cohen and Co. analysts were quoted in an August, 2018 Barron’s article that the strategy is paying off.

Home Depot was able to attract over a billion visits to its website, where they found customers were less interested in sales, and more interested in finding information about what they need so they have easier and quicker visits.  This includes the surging in popularity “order online and ship to store,” and “order online and pick up in store” options. As a result, digital sales increased by 28% in the third quarter of 2018.

Next week, we will take a look at some of the top brands that experienced growth beyond sales in 2018.