Amazon is extending its dominance in the $300 billion American e-commerce over its competitors including top search engines like Google and online retailers, according to a new Survata study commissioned by BloomReach.
Of the 2,000 U.S. consumers surveyed, 44 percent bypass the rest of the Web, and go directly to Amazon first to search for products. Only 34 percent use top search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo!.
According to the study, this represents a significant increase in search leadership for Amazon since Forrester found in 2012 that 30 percent of consumers research products on Amazon first.
Other retailers fared worse still, with only 21 percent of consumers saying they start at a specific retailer.
And there’s good news for the marketing tech platforms. The study finds that consumers are overwhelmingly being influenced by Web personalization technology; 87 percent said they’d specifically buy from the company that best predicts their intent and suggests products intuitively over all others.
Amazon has invested heavily in and touted its advanced algorithmic recommendation capabilities, and today a colossal 75 percent of consumers feel that no other online retailer can personalize experiences better than the company, with its nearest competitor Walmart.com registering 9 percent followed by eBay at 8 percent.
According to Joelle Kaufman, head of marketing and partnerships for BloomReach “Amazon has turned a slow-bleed of search engines’ and retailers’ e-commerce importance into a gushing wound. Search engines like Google have done their part by making product discovery and search intuitive, convenient and seamless; but if retailers want to slow Amazon’s dominance, then they must integrate technology that creates frictionless experiences for their customers across channels. Amazon has a commanding lead, but retailer personalization and brand experiences can power a counterattack.”
Bloomreach also suggested that while Amazon advances the battlefield on one front, the traditional allies of retailers – the search engines – have inadvertently squeezed retailers from the other front. Vonsumers– by a 2:1 margin – are wondering why their favorite retailers aren’t delivering the same personalized discovery experience on site or on mobile that search engines provide on the wider Web.
A second BloomReach survey of 500 digital retail marketerssaid they not only identified Amazon as their biggest threat (44 percent) compared to a direct competitor (20 percent) or eBay (21 percent), but 86 percent also feared that personalization technology from top search engines like Google was very or highly influential on consumers’ expectations for their sites.
As a result, according to Bloomreach, “Personalization ranked as the number-one priority that marketers will invest in over the next 18 months.
The research suggests that while both consumers and digital marketers see convenience and relevance as the top two values that personalization offers, the two groups disagreed on what website personalization feature provided the most value.
“Consumers valued the onsite search box as the most-important feature, but marketers felt that navigation elements like facets and filters provided the best value. More significantly, marketers’ opinions on the best personalization value were all over the map – breaking down almost evenly across all categories: search box, navigation, suggested/related products and promoted products.”
With almost 2,000 participants in the marketing tech landscape, CMOs have struggled to make sense of the noise. “In fact, the BloomReach digital retail marketer survey revealed that marketers are split on how they define personalization: 38 percent believed it applied to consumer personas, 37 percent believed it applied to individual consumers and 24 percent still thought it applied to broad consumer segments or demographics.”
BloomReach also studied consumer attitudes toward shopping on smartphones – compared to digital marketer perceptions and strategies. Conducting research on products and prices is the main reason (47 percent) people shop on smartphones, and almost half of those researching are specifically “showrooming” while in store.
The company suggests that despite mobile search traffic surpassing desktop for the first time in the U.S., 81 percent of consumers say that laptops/desktops still are the preferred way to make purchases, and 64 percent said the challenges of smartphones (smaller screens, typing) negatively affected their willingness to purchase. “However, marketers don’t recognize that connecting and personalizing the mobile experience to other channels is important, while previous research shows that the majority of consumers would prefer to be recognized across channels. The BloomReach digital retail marketer study revealed that omnichannel technology ranked last in order of importance.”
“People don’t think ‘Now I’m going to shop on my phone; now I’m going to shop on my laptop; now I’m back on my phone.’ They just shop,” said Kaufman. “But marketers often painfully approach omnichannel personalization in this way – siloing data and chalking every solution up to a responsive-design problem. Marketers are ignoring the 25x mobile-influence factor, inaccurately thinking that ‘omnichannel’ and ‘personalization’ are mutually exclusive.”
This study was unveiled one year after BloomReach released a similar study of UK consumers and marketers, finding that 82 percent of UK consumers thought Amazon was the best at personalizing.