Even though Amazon shipped its first book over 25 years ago and the company has shipped billions of products to millions of customers since that time, many consumers are just now venturing online to shop for the first time. Why the start doing it can be attributed to numerous reasons and it isn't only a U.S. trend. In 2020, for instance, reaction to the coronavirus pandemic has fueled growth in e-commerce businesses all over the world.

It's this worldwide trend that has some investors taking a look outside the U.S. at Shopify (NYSE:SHOP), MercadoLibre (NASDAQ:MELI), and JD.com (NASDAQ:JD) as companies currently benefitting from the trend who are also likely to do so into the future.

Let's explore why these three e-commerce stocks are buys right now.

A globe and shipping boxes sitting on a laptop keyboard.

Image source: Getty Images.

1. Shopify: A massive global opportunity 

You may not be familiar with Shopify (NYSE:SHOP), as it's not a consumer-facing brand. But you probably know some of the well-known brands (Heineken, Heinz, and Staples, for example) that use its platform to power their e-commerce stores. Whether it's a large international brand or a single entrepreneur, Shopify helps businesses of all sizes start and run their e-commerce operations.

The platform was launched in 2006 and has been on a growth tear ever since. Today it serves over 1 million merchants and facilitated over $30 billion in sales on its platform just last quarter. The coronavirus has accelerated its growth and the company is putting up record performance across the board.

Metric

Q3 2019

Q4 2019

Q1 2020

Q2 2020

Q3 2020

Revenue

$390 million

$505 million

$470 million

$714 million

$767 million

Revenue YOY growth

45%

47%

47%

97%

96%

Data source: Company earnings releases. YOY = year-over-year.

Despite tremendous growth, Shopify's international sales still only represent less than 26% of its top-line revenue in 2019. That means the company's e-commerce software operating system has a massive runway of opportunity around the globe. With $6.1 billion in cash and marketable securities on its balance sheet, it will continue to invest in its platform and make smart acquisitions to feed its flywheel of growth. The company is set to have a three-peat of its record performance in the upcoming holiday quarter. Investors may want to get in on the stock before that happens.

2. MercadoLibre: A big opportunity in a big region

Founded in 1999, MercadoLibre is the leading e-commerce platform in Latin America, but it also has another thriving business in payments. If that's not enough, it's working on creating a full end-to-end fintech platform for the massive unbanked and underbanked population in the region. Last week, it announced blowout earnings for its Q3. The table below shows just a few of the highlights.

Metric

Q3 2020

YOY growth in local currency

Overall revenue

$1.1 billion

148%

Gross merchandise volume

$5.9 billion

117%

Total payment volume

$14.5 billion

161%

Data source: Company earnings release. Table by author. YOY = year over year.

MercadoLibre has been investing in its platform, infrastructure, and offerings to have a complete ecosystem of e-commerce services to serve a growing region. Latin America has almost twice the population of the U.S., 25% more internet users, and about the same number of online buyers. But even more exciting for investors is that the region is just starting to adopt online shopping habits. In 2019, less than 5% of all retail purchases in Latin America were from online sources. The coronavirus has accelerated that rate considerably and is setting up this leading e-commerce platform to finish the year with its biggest-ever quarter. 

It's time to add this one to your shopping cart before the holiday rush.

3. JD.com: Playing in the world's largest e-commerce market

JD.com is sometimes called the Amazon of China, and it's actually a pretty good comparison. Both businesses were founded in the late 1990s. Both have a massive network of warehouses, last-mile delivery capability, and armies of robots. Both are into grocery delivery, pharmacy distribution, and the cloud. But JD.com's market cap is less than a 10th the size of the e-commerce juggernaut, and it's playing in the world's largest e-commerce market. This makes it an attractive way to diversify your e-commerce holdings.

The company has been investing billions in its fulfillment network over the past several years, and with the coronavirus driving more consumers online, it's paying off. Its revenue growth is accelerating, hitting 34% growth year over year in Q2, up from 23% in the previous Q2. Active customers grew 30% in the quarter, and income from operations more than doubled year over year to hit 2.5% of revenue.

The company is well-positioned to benefit from China's biggest online shopping day of the year, Singles Day (Nov. 11). You may want to get in on shares before the company makes its Q3 results public in a few weeks.

E-commerce is here to stay

"We believe the COVID pandemic has permanently accelerated the growth of online commerce, changing the retail landscape forever," Shopify CFO Amy Shapero said on the company's Q2 2020 earnings call.

These three companies have all had more than 14 years to prepare for the massive wave of e-commerce that's landed in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, all three growth stocks are achieving all-time record performances. Investors would do well to get on board to be part of this story that is just going to get better and better.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.