Amazon is slipping when it comes to search. The e-commerce giant took 49% of consumers’ initial product searches, down from last year’s 55%, with search engines taking 36% (up from 28% last year) and other retail sites taking 15% (16% last year), according to a study by consumer research firm Survata first reported by Bloomberg.
When shoppers are in discovery mode, Amazon fell further, Survata found. Some 46% of shoppers now start off with search engines rather than Amazon when they don’t have anything particular in mind. Another 39% start at Amazon, and 15% start at their favorite non-Amazon retail site.
For the still-large share of consumers sticking with Amazon, more than a quarter (28%) cited Amazon’s experience and easy navigation, 27% said it’s the variety and selection of merchandise there, 25% cited price and 17% percent favored Amazon’s shipping, the study found.
Amazon's dominance in retail product search is a key feature of a strategy meant to leave ever-fewer reasons for consumers to shop online anywhere but within Amazon's ecosystem.
As more consumers favor other search engines, retailers that aren't Amazon could have an opening to put their best deals forward. It could also create opportunities for a deeper relationship between Google and retailers. The search giant has notched several retail partnerships — including with Walmart and Target — in recent months, centered largely around its virtual assistant platform. Google is going after the voice market with its Home platform, which is among the most viable competitors to Amazon's Alexa but is still quite far behind in market share.
But Survata's study wasn't all upside for Google. The study also revealed that Amazon’s ads are trusted slightly more than Google’s. Some 31% say that Amazon’s ads more effectively show trusted brands, compared to around 22% that said the same of Google's ads. Nearly half (47%) found them to be equal. Earlier Survata research found that 44% had clicked on at least one Amazon sponsored product ad, 46% hadn’t, and just 10% or so said they don’t use Amazon.
As for search, it's not clear why Google has gained ground over Amazon. Survata said the reason could be the proliferation of mobile, a different platform for both search and ads — and an area where Google has been investing. Google introduced a mobile-first search engine last year, and the company has said that search is what people use mobile for the most when they use their devices to shop. Content performance marketing company BrightEdge earlier this year found that mobile searches on Google now represent about 57% of all search traffic.
The holidays have served to only shore up mobile’s place in the shopping journey. Some 85% of consumers earlier this year said they "probably" or "definitely" would be using a mobile app for their holiday shopping, according to an October YouAppi study. And mobile accounted for 61% of all website traffic on Thanksgiving Day, according to an Adobe Analytics report emailed to Retail Dive last month. Shoppers placed 51% more orders on smartphones than last year, according to a Salesforce report emailed to Retail Dive.