What happened

Shares of Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) rose 3.7% on Friday, following the online retail titan's blockbuster second-quarter results. 

So what

Amazon's sales surged a staggering 40% to $88.9 billion. That was well above analysts' estimates of $81.6 billion. The online retail giant has served as a lifeline for millions of people during the COVID-19 crisis, at a time when many physical retail stores have been forced to close.

Amazon's cloud computing division, Amazon Web Services (AWS), is also experiencing higher demand as more companies turn to cloud-based services to enable their employees to work from home. AWS revenue climbed 29% to $10.8 billion.

A digital chart is rising in a stair-step manner.

Amazon is growing sales and profits at incredible rates. Image source: Getty Images.

Despite heavy coronavirus-related costs -- such as purchases of safety gear, increased cleaning regimens, and bonuses for employees -- Amazon's profits also bested Wall Street's expectations. Its operating income soared 89% to $5.8 billion, while its earnings per share nearly doubled to $10.30. Analysts' forecasts had called for EPS of only $1.46. 

Now what

Retail sales were already shifting online before the pandemic. COVID-19 has only served to accelerate this global trend.

Perhaps more than any other business, Amazon (and its shareholders) stands to profit handsomely from the growth of e-commerce in the months and years ahead.