The evolution of retail has seen the rise and fall of companies clamoring for the top spot. According to a recent article on Wired, it was only a little more than 20 years ago that Kmart had greater sales than Walmart. Flash forward to 2011 and Walmart is comfortably situated atop the list of the next six biggest retailers, with profits greater than the combined total sales of Kroger, Target, Walgreens, Costco, Home Depot and CVS.

But what about Amazon and Google? According to the article, Amazon's sales for the past year are likely to bump it to at least number seven in the rankings, ahead of CVS, and just a few billion behind Target. Some Wall Street analysts believe Amazon's sales could triple by 2016, which would make Walmart and Amazon the only two true rivals in retail, the article said.

The following excerpt explains how efforts from Google factor into Amazon's quest to beat Walmart:

The single best precedent for Amazon's rise is Walmart's own, and whether one day Amazon could top Walmart will be interesting to see. In the meantime, if its own experience offers any lesson, Amazon cannot rest. Though the company continues to cement its dominance as the internet's default destination for buying stuff, a small army of little guys are seeking to peel off chunks of Amazon's business, much as Amazon started out by taking aim at bookselling. And if Amazon was able to unseat so many iconic stores in just 15 years, then Jeff Bezos knows that the same could happen to him.

Bezos also knows that, unlike him, the startups biting Amazon's ankles have an ally that sports a huge pair of shoulders on which to stand. Oh, and unlike Amazon, this giant — Google — makes huge profits.

Google's increasingly aggressive effort to steal online retail from Amazon is turning into one of the most intriguing business battles of the year, and not just because of the sight of two behemoths pounding on each other. Google's unique position in the internet's infrastructure means that it can count on more than its own resources to take on Amazon. The search giant also serves as the platform from which everyone else trying to beat Amazon can use to fire their salvos. It's a pretty high perch from which to take aim.

Read more about multichannel retailing.

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