Purpose There is an increased interest in e-tailing research in the literature, along with the development of new technologies and e-tailing platforms based on consumer and industry perspective. The purpose of this paper is to examine the periodic changes within the content of e-tailing literature. Design/methodology/approach The data set of this study includes academic papers cited in the Web of Science, which was published between 2000 and 2017. In this context, a co-word analysis was conducted using SciMat software based on the keywords, including "online retailing," "e-tailing," "e-store," "online store," "e-tail" and "online retail," found in the titles of published academic articles. Findings In this study, three different periods of the e-tailing study field were examined, major and emerging themes for each period were determined with a comparative bibliometric analysis. In this regard, consumer acceptance, choice and satisfaction were found as the major themes in the conceptualization of e-tailing research. Originality/value Understanding the transition from traditional marketing channels to online channels is an essential factor for retailers as well as consumers' use and the acceptance of new technologies. This study contributes to the effective execution of the e-tailing systems.