It’s well-established that Amazon is the first place a majority of consumers turn when they want to search for products. But what happens when brands successfully lure consumers to their websites?

Unfortunately, according to new research published by Episerver as part of its Reimagining Commerce report, over half of them are still likely to head over to Amazon to comparison shop anyway.

Specifically, Episerver, which polled over 4,500 consumers around the world, found that nearly a quarter (25%) of shoppers “always” compare products they find on brand websites to products on Amazon and another 44% “often” do the same.

What’s worse for brands, just 17% of shoppers indicated that they initially visited a brand’s website with the intention to make a purchase. Instead, the vast majority say they visit brand websites to search for products or compare prices between products sold by different brands.

The reality of the non-linear customer journey

Episerver’s data highlights the fact that customer journeys can be complex, and brands are likely to lose out if they assume customer journeys are linear.

Instead, despite the fact Episerver discovered that three-quarters of online shoppers claim to plan out their online purchases beforehand, large numbers of consumers are jumping around as they seek out and research products of interest.

The good news is that brands do have a variety of ways to address complex customer journeys.

Off of their own websites, a growing number of brands are using Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) to ensure that they are front and center with shoppers on Amazon. While AMS ads can be used to help drive sales on Amazon, many brands are also using them for branding purposes and evaluating performance accordingly.

Thanks to the availability of Amazon’s remarketing tools, brands can target Amazon ads specifically to shoppers who have visited their websites. This can be especially useful when trying to market differently to consumers who are in different places in the customer journey.

On their own websites, brands are increasingly aiming to create highly-differentiated experiences that persuade consumers to purchase directly from them.

For example, shoe and apparel brand Reebok just launched its first-ever loyalty program which offers shoppers “experiential and product-based benefits”. Dubbed Unlocked, the program allows customers to earn points by making purchases and interacting with Reebok in other ways, such as reviewing
products on Reebok.com and posting to social media.

As customers accumulate points and status, they can earn rewards including free shipping and returns – two of the things Episerver found to be of the greatest importance to shoppers – as well as early access to new products and invitations to events.

While loyalty programs aren’t a panacea – typically a certain amount of brand affinity must be established before consumers find them particularly compelling – they are a proven component in many successful direct-to-consumer strategies so it is no surprise that so many brands are either launching them or updating them in an effort to make them more compelling.

Of course, while innovation in customer experience is almost always a worthwhile investment for brands like Reebok, brands can’t forget the basics. Indeed, a whopping 97% of those Episerver polled said that incorrect or incomplete content will frequently cause them not to complete a purchase on a brand’s website or in its app, a reminder that brands must ensure they’re walking before they try to run.

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