Amazon’s share of initial product searches dropped from 55% in 2016 to 49% in 2017, and search engines like Google appear to be responsible, according to a survey from Survata as cited by Bloomberg.
Search engines’ share went from 28% to 36% between 2016 and 2017, reversing the drop they saw between 2015, when they had 34%, and 2016.
The rise of mobile commerce (m-commerce) may be responsible for search engines’ turnaround.
Search engines are the most popular option for mobile shopping, with consumers favoring them over retailers’ websites and apps, which includes Amazon’s. M-commerce is estimated to have grown from 19% of US e-commerce sales in 2016 to 23% in 2017, so search engines’ mobile advantage may be helping it gain on Amazon in product search. Mobile shopping is projected to make up nearly half of all US e-commerce by 2021, so search engines would be wise to invest in their mobile shopping search experience going forward.
Winning back search is necessary when competing with Amazon because of its strong conversion rate. Amazon has a tremendous ability to convert searchers to purchasers, which blocks competitors from having an opportunity to steal them away. If search engines and retailers want to take back more control of search, they should note the reasons consumers gave for starting their searches on Amazon — navigation, product selection, prices, and shipping capabilities — and then look to improve in those areas.
Voice shopping and social commerce may be the next battlefields for e-commerce search.
- BI Intelligence estimates that 31% of US adults will use voice to make a payment by 2022, up from 8% this year, opening up a new field for search. Amazon is already well established in the space, but Google is working with retailers in the hopes of overtaking it and claiming more of voice search for itself. And as the industry develops, there are sure to be even more players.
- Social media is heavily influential on younger generations of shoppers, so many of them are likely to search for products there. Those trying to control product search will need to find ways to use social media to stay competitive in search, as Amazon is trying to do with its social platform Spark.
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