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Amazon Is the Starting Point For 44 Percent Of Consumers Searching For Products. Is Google Losing, Then?
A new survey compares Amazon and search engine performance to an earlier study. A look at what the comparison might actually signal about product search trends.
In a survey of 2,000 US consumers, 44 percent of respondents said they go directly to Amazon to start their product searches. That compares to 34 percent who said they use search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo to search for products. Just 21 percent of searchers said they start on a retailer site, according to the study conducted by Survata for e-commerce personalization startup BloomReach.
For a look at how these search trends have shifted among Amazon and search engines, the press release about the BloomReach study pointed to a 2013 Forrester report found that 30 percent of online buyers use Amazon to research products first, while just 13 percent started on Google.
Most of the coverage about the latest study has focused on this comparison pointing to Amazon’s growing dominance. Yet if we look more closely at what the Survata study and Forrester reports show, it seems clear that search has at least held pace with Amazon’s growth.
Comparing two different studies is imperfect– the Forrester study looked at Google alone, while the latest Survata study commissioned by BloomReach asked consumers about search engine use generally — but here’s how the stats from the two look when charted:
Even if we generously estimate that search engines as a whole (including Bing and Yahoo) had a 20 percent product search share in 2013, both channels would each have been up 14 points.
As Google commands some 65 percent of the US search market, the comparison of these studies arguably shows that search — and Google Shopping, in particular — has done more to cannibalize Amazon product search growth than the other way around.
Apps Versus Mobile Web
Others point to Amazon’s app growth as reason for Google to be concerned. Recent Morgan Stanley research showed that more than 50 percent of Amazon’s mobile traffic growth is coming from its app. Yet it also noted that overall mobile-browser traffic is twice the size of the app market and growing 1.2 times faster.
Same Store Sales Comparison
By another comparison, on Thursday, ChannelAdvisor released its Same Store Sales (SSS) report for September:
- Amazon SSS were up 19.2 percent, but that was a 12-month low, down from 24.7 percent in August.
- Google Shopping SSS saw 46.1 percent growth, driven by higher conversion rates.
The Google numbers only capture Google Shopping ads in search, not all product searches happening on Google or the other engines, yet it’s another measure signaling that Google’s moves against Amazon with shopping ads are making more of an impact on consumer behavior than the BloomReach study and subsequent reporting on it would indicate.
Does Amazon continue to capture share of mind among consumers looking to research products? Certainly, but there are also cracks in the argument that its dominance is increasing. This is all to say that the battle over product search is murkier than one study might indicate.