At the request of eMarketer, online measurement comapanies Nielsen//NetRatings and Hitwise each produced a list of the top retail Web sites in the UK, ranked by number of visitors in June 2006. Nielsen//NetRatings also listed the top e-commerce sites in Germany and France.

One feature of the data that stands out is the prominence of US brands in all three markets. eBay heads each list and Amazon follows directly behind in two out of three cases (France being the exception). Yahoo! and Dell also have strong placement.

Tesco, the largest grocer in the UK, is present on both measurement services’ lists. The Times Online of London reported in April 2006 that Tesco sells more groceries over the Internet than all online retailers in the US combined. It was not so long ago that people were writing off online grocers in the wake of Webvan’s demise during the dot-com bust. Times have changed and Tesco is now preparing to enter the US market.

Nielsen//NetRatings finds that a higher percentage of visitors are drawn to eBay’s Web site in Germany (49%) than to either its sites in the UK (43%) or France (31%). In April 2006, BusinessWeek online noted that Germany is eBay’s second largest market after the US. Germans apparently love bargain hunting, and 20 million of them are registered eBay users. In its 2005 10-K report, eBay disclosed that Germany and the UK each contribute over 10% of its revenue.

Tchibo is the most visited domestic online retailer in Germany, according to Nielsen//NetRatings. The company started over 50 years ago as a mail order coffee business, but today generates excitement by offering a selection of consumer goods that regularly changes. Tchiba’s slogan, "A new experience every week", creates buzz around the list of 15 items, based on a theme, which changes weekly.

Few people, even in Germany, realize that the German Otto Group, ranked fourth in that country, is second only to Amazon in worldwide retail e-commerce sales. Last year the company enjoyed Internet sales of $3.8 billion, accounting for 20% of the $18.5 billion in sales generated through all its retail channels. Otto, which has a majority stake in Crate & Barrel, also has its origins in the mail order business.

Some 71% of Internet users in France visited retail e-commerce sites in June 2006 compared with 68% of Internet users in the UK and Germany. eBay is the leader in France, although its hold on consumers is not as strong as it is in Germany or the UK. French consumers have a strong loyalty toward homegrown retailers. Cdiscount, a large mass merchandiser, and Fnac, a seller of media goods, draw more visitors than Amazon. La Redoute, a French apparel retailer, is a division of Redcats, a global Internet and catalog retailer that, in turn, is part of the PPR empire that includes Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen and Stella McCartney.