Amazon has established real dominance as the place most US Internet users go to search for products online, ahead of the top search engines and individual online retailers.
Amazon now has a commanding lead in online product search in the United States. The giant e-tailing site is way ahead of its competitors – popular search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing or individual online retailers. Some 44% of the US consumers polled for a new study commissioned by BloomReach from market research company Survata stated that they first go to Jeff Bezos’ platform to look for products on the net, while only 34% prefer to start with a traditional search engine. Given that in 2012 Forrester research put the percentage of shoppers who went directly to Amazon at just 30%, the web giant has made considerable advances.
According to BloomReach, 44% of consumers polled go straight to Amazon to start a product search (Infographic: BloomReach)
It would appear that Amazon’s colossal efforts to develop a top-quality recommendation algorithm which provides customers with an increasingly personalised experience are paying off. Among other aspects, the Survata study focuses on the value customers place on personalisation. Fully 87% of the 2,000 consumers surveyed said they were prepared to purchase a greater number of items from a company which showed that it was most able to understand and predict their shopping intentions and intuitively suggest other relevant products.
‟Consumers don’t just want a ‘good experience’. They want first and foremost to save as much time as possible, find exactly what they want fast, which is where the requirement for personalisation comes in. This is precisely what Amazon can offer today,” explains BloomReach’s Sam Moore, who was in charge of the study.
Amazon setting the pace on personalisation
Amazon has certainly raised the bar pretty high. The e-tail giant offers a huge range of products, at ultra-competitive prices, and sets very high standards as regards personalisation. The Survata survey also shows that many consumers are now wondering why their preferred retail sites cannot manage to offer a customised experience similar to that of the search engines or Amazon. Even more telling, three quarters of the respondents said that no other online retailer equals Amazon in terms of knowing the customer well. Only 9% said Walmart.com came out top on personalisation, while 8% picked eBay.
‟Amazon has been focusing its efforts on personalisation for a long time. Consequently it has amassed astronomical amounts of data, and continues to do so today, which gives it a head start on specific retailers. Meanwhile Google is doing excellent work on prediction. So Internet users have quite naturally come to expect the same thing from retailers’ sites,” underlines Sam Moore.
Digital retail marketers who were polled in a second Survata* study have clearly grasped the implications of all this. While only 44% of the marketers actually saw Amazon as a threat, fully 86% recognised that the web giant – and also the search engines – are raising customer expectations as regards personalisation.
75% of consumers polled by BloomReach put Amazon clearly out in front when it comes to personalisation (Infographic: BloomReach)
Retailers struggling to figure out Internet users’ real needs
One has to realise of course that, being essentially information and communication technology companies, Amazon and Google have a dimension which most retail players cannot hope to match. It would therefore seem a logical solution for online retailers to forge partnerships in order to bridge the technology gap. However, retailers’ digital marketing departments appear to be having trouble working out exactly what consumers mean by ‘personalisation’. The results of Survata’s second study reveal that marketing directors are split on how to define this concept and their ideas do not always correspond to the sort of personalisation customers have in mind.
Sam Moore sounds a warning bell here, pointing out that “this is the ‘Era of me’. Consumers want individualised marketing. Personalisation doesn’t just boil down to brand loyalty. A consumer may well like a company and its products but prefer to go directly through other platforms because they give him/her exactly what s/he wants, fast.”
44% of digital retail marketers see Amazon as their biggest threat in the market (Infographic: BloomReach)