Amazon’s search reach is bigger than many may realize, with more (44%) shoppers searching for products on Amazon than on search engines (34%) or retailers’ sites (21%), according to research from big-data marketing company BloomReach, conducted by consumer research firm Survata. That’s a big jump from three years ago, when Forrester Research pegged Amazon’s search at 30%.
The vast majority — 75% — of consumers said Amazon does best at personalizing their shopping experience. Two-thirds say that can’t fathom why their favorite retail sites don’t offer the same level of personalization.
Meanwhile, in another BloomReach/Survata survey of 500 digital retail marketers, just 44% of marketers said Amazon is their biggest threat while 86% also identified Google and other search engines as their biggest problem.
It appears that marketers are badly underestimating Amazon’s brawny search capabilities, reserving their worry for more traditional search engines like Google. But, while it’s true that Google and search engines in general can interfere with retailers’ personalization efforts, marketers are all over the map — and differ from shoppers — in their concepts of what “personalization” means. Some 38% say it applies to consumer personas, 37% to individual consumers, and 24% say it’s a matter of broad consumer segments or demographics.
That’s leading to a big demotion for omnichannel and mobile commerce efforts, despite retailers’ stated appreciation for the need to offer personalization and purchase across all channels.
“People don’t think ‘now I’m going to shop on my phone; now I’m going to shop on my laptop; now I’m back on my phone.’ They just shop,” BloomReach marketing chief Joelle Kaufman told Venture Beat. “But marketers often painfully approach omnichannel personalization in this way, siloing data and chalking every solution up to a responsive-design problem. Marketers are ignoring the 25x mobile-influence factor, inaccurately thinking that ‘omnichannel’ and ‘personalization’ are mutually exclusive.”
Some retailers, however, are acutely aware of the power of Amazon’s search power, Jason Goldberg, VP of commerce for digital marketing firm Razorfish, told Retail Dive.
“For a lot of people who want to do product research online you go to Amazon because they have information about every product in the world,” Goldberg said. “So Amazon has a huge head start, and that’s how Amazon becomes the online shopping destination.”
Wal-Mart, for example, has recently redoubled its efforts to beef up its product descriptions online, even for merchandise it doesn’t necessarily have available, Goldberg says.
In addition to gaining an advantage as a destination, having superior search capabilities allows retailers to discover what products people are looking for. “If you know what products people are searching and interested in, you know what to carry,” Goldberg said.