Consumers are cutting out the middleman, and it’s looking more like the middleman is Walmart.

Online sales rose about 15% last year, according to the U.S. Commerce department. The total haul was around $400 billion, or 8% of all retail sales for the year.

Back when I worked in IT at a large consumer electronics retailer, we used to say that online sales were infinitesimal — the equivalent of one or two stores in an entire chain. That’s not true anymore. Amazon sales were around 27% of all retail sales, thanks in part to the free two-day and a bot called Alexa, which makes the entire process ultra smooth.

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