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Amazon is Trouncing Search Engines and Retailers Online

Amazon Jeff Bezos

Omnichannel retailers need to step up their online game.

According to the results of a study commissioned by BloomReach and published Tuesday, Amazon is the first port of call for 44 percent of American consumers when browsing for goods online.

In fact, in a survey of 2,000 U.S. shoppers, only 21 percent said they would start their search on a specific retailer’s e-commerce site, compared to 34 percent who first turn to the likes of Google, Bing and Yahoo.

And Amazon’s grasp on the market is growing: a similar Forrester report in 2012 found that the internet giant was the first stop on the shopping journey for 30 percent of consumers.

How did that number jump in just three years? Because Amazon has pumped so much money into its advanced algorithmic recommendation capabilities that 75 percent of those surveyed said that no other online retailer offers a better personalized experience.

For comparison’s sake, its nearest competitor is (9 percent), followed by eBay (8 percent).

“Amazon has turned a slow-bleed of search engines’ and retailers’ e-commerce importance into a gushing wound,” said Joelle Kaufman, head of marketing and partnerships for BloomReach. “Search engines like Google have done their part by making product discovery and search intuitive, convenient and seamless; but if retailers want to slow Amazon’s dominance, then they must integrate technology that creates frictionless experiences for their customers across channels.”

While she acknowledged that Amazon has a “commanding” lead, she said that retailers can use personalization and brand experiences to try and turn the tables—something that ranked as a number one priority in a separate BloomReach survey of 500 digital marketers.

But first, they need to get on the same page as consumers, who think that the search box is the most valuable website personalization feature, while marketers hold facets and filters in the highest regard.

For the most part, marketers’ opinions broke down almost evenly across all categories: search box, navigation, suggested or related products and promoted products.

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This sums up why consumers—at a 2:1 margin—wonder why their favorite retailers aren’t delivering the same personalized discovery experience on desktop or mobile that search engines provide.

“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,” Kaufman said. “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.”