Google might be the most popular search engine in the world, but when consumers are searching for products, they're increasingly turning to Amazon first.

In fact, according to a BloomReach study conducted by Survata, over half of consumers (55%) now go to Amazon first when they're looking for a product, up from 44% in 2015.

The biggest losers of Amazon's rise as a search destination are other search engines.

BloomReach's study, which was based on a survey of 2,000 consumers over the Labor Day weekend, found that search engines, including Google, Bing and Yahoo, lost 28% of their market share for product searches to Amazon.

A big reason for that is Amazon's wide selection, and its product-centric search capabilities, which the majority found superior to those offered by search engines.

Interestingly, search engines fare better during the holiday season under certain circumstances.

While Amazon is the first choice for search for 59% of consumers who are looking for a specific product as a gift, that number drops to 49% when consumers don't have a specific product in mind.

Unfortunately for search engines, in this scenario, retailer sites see more consumers turning to them first than search engines do.

A big challenge for retailers

But that doesn't mean that all is well for retailers. Consumers turn to their sites first for product search just 16% of the time.

That figure has decreased from 21% two years ago. And even when consumers end up on a retailer's website, 70% of the time they'll check out Amazon to compare prices. Only 40% of Amazon shoppers do the reverse.

The biggest problem for retailers is customer experience.

Of those BloomReach surveyed, just over half stated that they felt Amazon provided the best overall site experience, and a third indicated this was the primary reason they favored Amazon.

Less than a third said they've left Amazon for another retailer's site over poor experience, while 58% went to Amazon after having a bad experience at a retailer's site.

The good news is that there are opportunities for retailers to compete more effectively against Amazon.

For example, BloomReach found that only one in three consumers felt Amazon had superior personalization and product recommendations, and "41% said personalization would make them more likely to buy from a retailer over Amazon," so retailers clearly have the ability to establish an edge here.

And while they might not necessarily be able to compete with Amazon on price or overall selection, by focusing on eliminating poor experiences and improving site search, they could also decrease Amazon's appeal.

Patricio Robles

Published 28 September, 2016 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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