Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) is popular with online shoppers. So is Walmart (NYSE:WMT). But JCPenney (NYSE:JCP)? According to this year's National Retail Federation survey of the most popular e-commerce sites, Penney's made the number-seven spot, beating out Sears (NASDAQ:SHLD), Gap (NYSE:GPS) and even Macy's (NYSE:M).
Unlike most lists that rank retailers, the NRF's annual "Favorite 50" is actually based on a survey of customers' opinions rather than revenue or traffic. As a result, it tends to expose some of the apparent contradictions of e-commerce.
For example, another surprise from the survey is Best Buy (NYSE:BBY), whose e-commerce site showed up in the fifth spot. This is the same Best Buy that seemed to have been left behind by e-commerce based on its reputation as nothing more than a showroom for Amazon. Does it mean Best Buy is actually a lot more popular with online shoppers than most people expect, or that even online shoppers like to do their showrooming at Best Buy?
It may not actually mean either. One of the developing realities of cross-channel retail is that even more traditional shoppers aren't necessarily shopping to buy at any particular moment. That lines up well with the way shoppers used to visit stores, but with merchants' ever increasing push to convert in-store browsers to buyers, it's less likely to happen in the aisles. Online, with no one pushing, customers can shop where they please.
In fairness, where they please is still usually Amazon. Of the 5,600 consumers surveyed by Prosper Analytics, 58 percent called Amazon the "most preferred online merchant" for both apparel and non-apparel items. Runner-up Walmart only scored 18 percent on that question.
Here's the top 10 among the "Favorite 50":
Everybody Loves Apple (But They Like Target And Kohl's Too)
Survey: Trader Joe's Tops Grocer Customer Satisfaction, But That's Not Where Shoppers Usually Go
Millennials Pick Walmart Over Amazon—At Least After They Become Parents