There will likely be plenty of pent-up demand for in-store shopping once the economy fully reopens, but that doesn't mean e-commerce will take a back seat. It's estimated that the pandemic accelerated the digital shift in the economy by up to five years, which could have a permanent influence on the shopping behavior of many consumers.
Here are three e-commerce stocks that look like timely buys right now.
Amazon (AMZN 0.64%) has been a big winner for investors. More consumers continue to flock to the benefits of a Prime membership, which now has over 150 million members. This growing customer base is helping Amazon cement its lead by attracting lots of third-party merchants. In the fourth quarter, sales of third-party units made up 55% of Amazon's total paid units in its retail business -- the highest level in the company's history.
The online tech titan is continuing to invest in more fulfillment centers, technology and content, and its delivery network to meet escalating demand. It's got plenty of resources to do it, with free cash flow coming in at $31 billion last year. Some of this investment is also supporting the growth of Amazon Web Services, which continues to lead the cloud services market.
Amazon has grown into a big business, with $386 billion in annual revenue, but it's still capable of producing the level of growth needed to generate millionaire-making returns. Consider that Amazon grew revenue by a robust 44% year over year in the fourth quarter. This top growth stock has tremendous business momentum behind it to deliver more gains.
After more than doubling in value in 2020, shares of Stitch Fix (SFIX 6.15%) were slashed in half over the last few months. A few things have weighed on the performance of the online styling service, including carrier delays related to COVID-19 that pressured results in the last quarter. Most recently, the company announced that its founder and CEO Katrina Lake will transition to the role of executive chairperson in August.
However, the long-term outlook of this disruptive shopping service still looks bright. Stitch Fix is still innovating with new features designed to drive higher engagement and has collected mountains of data about its clients' needs, which it can use to gain market share of apparel spending over time.
Over the last several years, Stitch Fix has accumulated billions of ratings and numerous data points based on feedback from its growing client base of 3.9 million. That data is powering the platform's recommendation engine, making Stitch Fix smarter about its clients' preferences, and driving higher customer satisfaction and engagement with the service.
The most important evidence of rising client satisfaction is that active client growth is already accelerating back to pre-pandemic levels. With demand trends heading in a positive direction, management is guiding for revenue to accelerate to a range of 36% to 39% in the fiscal third quarter. The lower stock price provides investors an opportunity to buy shares of a disruptive e-commerce platform that could deliver market-beating returns.
Revolve Group (RVLV 9.31%) is a popular online retailer for millennials and Gen Z shoppers. It specializes in providing the latest styles from top fashion brands and, in the process, has built itself a pretty powerful brand. Active customers increased by 27% to reach 1.5 million in 2019, but growth slowed to a halt last year as social distancing measures removed the need to shop for going-out attire.
The fashion retailer is already seeing business conditions improve, which could fuel further gains in the stock once everyone has received their COVID-19 vaccines. Younger people will no doubt be craving to experience social occasions after being restricted from doing so last year, and that could fuel tremendous pent-up demand at Revolve.
Investors clearly expect Revolve to benefit handsomely from the reopening of the economy, as the shares have rebounded sharply off the 2020 lows. But this is still a relatively small business with a lot of opportunity to capture more market share over the long term.
Revolve has built a powerful advantage with its marketing efforts on social media by partnering with influencers and celebrities. This has proven to be a very effective way to build brand awareness with younger generations and should serve the business well over the long term.