Amazon continues to top BrandZ’s Most Valuable Retailers rankings, but Chinese pure-plays are presenting some stiff competition.

With an estimated brand value of $315,505m – a staggering 91% increase from 2018 – Amazon is currently worth more than double the next most valuable brand, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba with $131,246m.

However, speaking to WARC at World Retail Congress in Amsterdam where the BrandZ rankings were unveiled, David Roth, CEO of The Store WPP EMEA and Asia and chairman of BrandZ, suggested that Amazon shouldn’t rest on its laurels.

“Amazon can’t be complacent. IBM had the highest market share in computers at one point and it wasn’t that long ago that Nokia owned mobile phones,” he said.

“Amazon has the advantage of patient shareholders and it plays by very different rules,” he added. “What’s more, Chinese e-commerce players are snapping at Amazon’s heels and the commerce and content offering that Alibaba and have developed is streets ahead.”

While future competition is expected to come from China, the US still dominates the BrandZ rankings. Six of the top 10 listed retailers originate from the US, including McDonald’s in third position with an estimated brand value of $130,368m.

Other US stalwarts in the top 10 include Home Depot, Nike, Starbucks and former BrandZ number one, Walmart.

One common characteristic of high-value retail brands in the WPP/Kantar BrandZ report was what Roth referred to as ecosystems, loose structures where retail brands can leverage assets beyond their core business.

This includes online grocer Ocado licensing its technology and Amazon’s cloud storage business. Roth said: “We’ve gone through the birth of branding, then the era of big tech companies and now we’re now in the next stage where brands are forming ecosystems.”

Looking ahead, Roth said he expected voice, customer experience and direct-to-consumer brands to be leading the retail agenda.

However, he sounded a note of caution for brands not pursuing consumer-centric strategies: “The graveyard is littered with retailers that fell out of love with the consumer. The retail model is under pressure so we now need to figure out what customers want and give people reasons to visit a physical store.”

Sourced from BrandZ; additional content by WARC staff