Study: Search engines gain ground on Amazon for product research
- Amazon remains the top choice for consumers' first product searches, with 49% turning to the e-commerce giant when shopping online — down from 55% last year, according to a new Survata study made available to Mobile Marketer. At the same time, search engines like Google are gaining some ground. In the study of 2,000 U.S. consumers, 36% reported beginning product searches using search engines, an increase from 28% in 2016.
- Search engines fare better when consumers aren't looking for a specific product, with 46% starting there compared to 29% starting on Amazon. This is particularly apparent when they're shopping for electronics, apparel and home furnishings. The study found that 15% began their search on a specific retailer's site when they were unsure of what they wanted.
- Amazon still has an edge over search engines and a certain power with consumers. The Survata study found that price wasn't the main reason for the reliance on Amazon. Instead, 28% cited Amazon's user experience; 27% attributed it to the company's product variety and selection; and 17% said it's efficient based on Amazon's shipping capabilities.
Google has prioritized the mobile search user experience in recent years, as more consumers turn to on-the-go browsing, which is one possible reason for the growth search engines experienced related to product searches. A Google-backed survey that supports Survata's latest findings says that search engines are the most commonly used mobile shopping tool. However, the seamlessness of a one-stop search and purchase experience on Amazon provides an advantage. In response, search engines, brands and marketers have begun to integrate strategies to make converting from product search to making a purchase more seamless through chatbots, photo search, shoppable ads and augmented reality.
With Google recently initiating mobile-first indexing for search, this could drive further gains against Amazon as mobile-friendly product content gets prioritized.
However, Amazon's current leadership position in digital assistants via Alexa is likely to provide an advantage over Google — which is working hard to catch up in this space — as more consumers use voice search as part of the shopping journey. Google signed a couple of key deals in this area recently with Target and Walmart that could bolster its role in voice-based shopping.
During the 2017 holiday shopping season, 35% plan to use their smartphones for shopping, and 65% plan to make purchases via mobile devices, a survey by Leanplum and Branding Brand found. Black Friday shoppers, in particular, had plans to leverage their mobile devices to find the best deals — 64% used mobile to learn about sales, coupons and deals, and about half enabled push notifications to learn about special promotions.
Understanding how and where consumers search for products online and make purchases can have a major impact on where marketers direct their advertising dollars down the road.
The Survata study highlights Google and Amazon's intense competition for those advertising dollars, finding that Amazon's ads were more trusted than Google's — but only slightly. More than 30% said Amazon's ads better helped them find trusted brands, compared to 22% for Google ads. Almost half of respondents said neither was better.