Jan 10, 2022, Business

The Top 10 E-commerce apps for 2021

John Oxley Business Consultant

You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to understand why E-commerce exploded in 2020 and 2021, offering a contact-less system of ordering and delivery to consumers who were caught up in the pandemic. Forced to stay away from brick and mortar establishments, instead they relied on the internet to provide the goods and services they wanted. The giants of the industry reacted to the sudden surge, and kept their position, up against delivery delays, restricted working hours and reduced workforce. Let’s take a look at the market leaders and see why they are so robust. The list is my personal choice, in no particular order.

1. Amazon

Downloads estimated at 500M+ with a 3.8 approval rating.

Founded in 1994, this American behemoth has an average of 2.5 billion hits a month. It sells a huge variety of goods and services, pretty much anything you can think of. Easy payment options, with bank cards, net banking and even COD. It also offers cloud computing and online streaming. With privately labelled brands, Amazon covers specialized market areas, like Vedaka from Amazon India, providing everyday food items. A complete all-rounder, it’s the go-to app for most shopping needs

2. Alibaba

Downloads estimated at 500M+, with a 4.2 approval rating.

Founded by Jack Ma in 1999, headquartered in China, this is the biggest B2B and B2C site in the world, with a vast array of products and services in their online portal. The offshoot, AliExpress, is multilingual and is hugely popular in Europe. One of the main drawbacks is delivery speed and related customs duty. It’s difficult to get download statistics, but I would guess that, with the huge Chinese market alone, it must be at least the same as Amazon, if not more

3. Wish

Downloads estimated at 500M+, with a 4.1 approval rating.

This platform, started in 2010 in San Francisco, USA, relies on browsing technologies to personalise shopping in a visual way for customers, rather than using search bars. More than 1 million merchants list their products on the Wish platform, removing the ‘middleman’ and distribution fees. The majority of the products are manufactured in China, with standard shipping taking 2-3 weeks. Late delivery is the most common form of complaint, followed by counterfeit goods, but the platform remains highly popular with people looking for small, inexpensive items.

4. EBay

Downloads estimated at 476M+, with a 4.5 approval rating.

It all started in 1995 with the sale of a broken laser printer. The precursor of EBay was called Auction Web, started by Pierre Omidyar in San Jose, USA. He listed the broken printer at $1, and was astonished to see the price go up to $14.83 as online people were battling for ownership. In 1997, the company was doing so well, it received a $6.7 million boost from a venture capital firm. It brings buyers and sellers together, charging a fee for any transactions completed, then bows out, leaving the buyer and seller to work out the details. This can lead to abuse, however, and many have reported money being lost from incorrect or misleading auctions.

5. Shein

Downloads estimated at 100M+, with a 4.6 approval rating.

The Chinese fashion giant, founded in 2008, is best known for affordable and fashionable clothing. With a turnover of $10 Billion in 2020, it has moved on from it’s first endeavor, selling wedding dresses (a huge business in itself), to become a well known global brand, which has not been affected by the US/China trade wars. The brand has had massive exposure on TikTok and other social media platforms, leading it to become the most visited fashion and apparel site in the world. As of 2021, it is the number one US shopping app, overtaking Amazon, holding that spot in another 50 countries. Shein reportedly also has an eight year revenue growth record of 100% or more. 

6. Etsy

Downloads estimated at 10M+, with a 4.8 approval rating.

Focussing on handmade or vintage items and craft supplies, it was started in 2005 by a small company called iospace in the US. The name comes from a whimsical word that can mean ‘what if’, ‘oh yes’ and even ‘just because’, and has been compared to ‘your grandma’s basement’!. It’s the go-to app for people looking for unique occasion gifts, whether it’s a birthday, wedding or graduation, or simply for fun. The vintage items must be at least 20 years old. The holiday seasons are when Etsy hits the big time, with creators advertising personalisation of goods. Although it is a niche market, it recently agreed to purchase Depop, the global fashion marketplace for used and vintage clothing, enlarging their customer base.

7. Newegg

Downloads estimated at 1M+, with a 4.4 approval rating.

While Amazon sells electronics, they don’t update their listings as fast as they should, leaving space for tech specialists to fill the gap. This USA-based company was launched in 2001 and has grown to be one of the biggest online retailers of consumer electronics and computer hardware. Allied with a partnership and involvement in Esports, co-hosting some of the world’s most-watched e-competitions, the company profile has shot up and is expanding into staffing services in the logistics, manufacturing, clerical and supply chain industries. It was ranked #5 in Newsweek’s best online shops for consumer electronics.

8. Flipkart

Downloads estimated at 100M+, with a 4.5 approval rating.

Acting as a counter-balance to Amazon, Flipkart holds a 39.5% market share of India’s e-commerce industry. Originally starting, much like Amazon, as an online book retailer, it has expanded to include electronics, fashion, groceries and lifestyle products. As it is only operational in India at present, the market is limited, but global industry giants saw the potential and elected to battle it out for ownership. It turns out that Walmart won a bidding war with Amazon and acquired a majority stake of 77% in 2018. With that infusion, I would guess that Flipkart will go global soon.

9. Uber

Downloads estimated at 500M+, with a 4.5 approval rating.

When a group of friends were unable to get a ride over the Christmas period in Paris, they hatched an idea to have shared transport, without actually having to own vehicles. From 2009, this idea turned into reality and grew until, in Q2 2021, they had over 101 million monthly users worldwide. Spreading their services, they started Uber Eats, a food delivery service, courier services and freight transportation. But by far and away, the original idea of Uber is the most prominent, and it’s simply to do with the convenience, no waiting for taxis or public transport, direct to destination transport. 

10. Groupon

Downloads estimated at 100M+, with a 4.7 approval rating.

Groupon was formed from the idea that a large group of people had more collective bargaining power. Starting with the first deal (2 for 1 Pizzas), Groupon became a ‘deal of the day’ company. If a certain number of people signed up for a deal, everyone could get it. If not, the deal was closed. While some were worried that small businesses might be swamped by Groupon customers, 88% of merchants agreed that they got more returning customers. Groupon constantly breaks into new markets by identifying, reviewing and contacting successful businesses, allowing them to offer their customers price breaks on all manner of products and services.

Predictions for 2022

Who can hazard a guess about what 2022 will bring? I’ve got a feeling that clothing and apparel will be a category that will move up sharply, as it appears there will be an 18-19% increase in sales this year. Also, in the line of ecological progression, if your reusable water bottle is getting a bit mucky, there’s a company called LARQ that produces a self cleaning water bottle that looks very interesting.

Finally, m-commerce, or mobile commerce, has the potential to increase revenue significantly, and the younger generation has taken to it like a duck to water. But according to some vendors, it is still a work-in-progress – baby boomers, who have money are not yet prepared to hand everything over to a device that might be lost, stolen or hacked. Once it becomes more secure, less invasive (requiring too much personal data to make a purchase) and easier to navigate, that little device in your pocket will open up a whole new world.