Of all of the tens of thousands of online opportunities for shoppers, only two really matter, at least to begin with: Amazon and Google.

That’s a key finding of a study tracking the path to purchase for over a thousand US consumers. The research was conducted by Power Reviews.

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According to the authors, when it comes to starting their purchasing journey, over 70 per cent of consumers begin either on the US eCommerce giant or on a search engine — mostly Google. “Amazon tops the list of preferred channels, with 38 per cent of consumers noting that the eCommerce giant is their top choice for starting the shopping journey. More than one third (35 per cent) say they prefer to start shopping on a search engine, and an additional 21 per cent indicate that a brand or retailer site is their top choice.

Other eCommerce marketplace such as Jet.com, eBay, or Etsy do a little bit better than a rounding error collectively — at six percent. Individually they hardly matter.

And here’s a number that will chill the bones of many retailers and brands worried by Amazon’s market strength. “A huge 92 per cent of shoppers who start their purchase journey on Amazon typically make their final purchase on the site, too,” says the study.

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Amazon’s leadership is a function of a number of factors, including the variety of products it offers, its free shipping policy and the fact that it is seen to offer better deals. The availability of large volumes of customer reviews is likewise a draw card. Note, however, that as Power Review offers review services there’s a little bit of self interest in that finding.

Still it’s worth noting, as the authors do, that  more than half (55 per cent) of consumers cited a large volume of helpful reviews as one of the reasons they start their purchase journey on Amazon.

As for Google, the study says more than half (52 per cent) of consumers who start their shopping journey on a search engine said they’re likely to click on the Google Shopping Results. Forty-one per cent said they’d click through to Amazon, 41 per cent would click to a retailer site, and just over a quarter would click to a brand site.

The good news for other retailers, however, is that consumers who start on Google are just as likely to purchase on a retailer site as they are to purchase on Amazon.

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With more than a third of shoppers starting the shopping journey on a search engine, it’s crucial for brands and retailers to have a strong presence on Google. Start leveraging ratings and reviews to improve your search engine optimisation (SEO) and increase organic traffic to your site,” the authors say.

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