Most consumers begin the purchasing process with online or mobile research on comparison shopping sites such as Amazon and Google. In fact, these two sites together now initiate $100 billion in total sales, according to Eric Best, CEO of Mercent, at a recent company Open House and Client Appreciation Reception.
“Offline [Amazon and Google] are directly influencing more than a half trillion dollars in domestic consumer shopping,” he noted in a presentation during the event. “That’s 20% of the U.S. economy. When we looked at the aggregate growth of these channels for our retail customers, we noted a 50% year-over-year growth.”In his session, titled: Key Trends In Omni-Channel Retail, Best highlighted the impact of Amazon and Google on the retail industry, noting that they influence 43% of all online purchases today. Prior to making a purchase, 13% of consumers research products on Google, he reported, while 30% use Amazon.
Google As An E-Commerce Destination
Many consumers still view Google as simply a search engine, observed Frank Kochenash, VP of Client Services for Mercent, but the site has matured into a significant e-Commerce destination. “While we’re very familiar with paid search advertising, search text ads and product listing ads that show up on the search results page,” he stated, “Google has taken retailing and e-Commerce a step further with Google Shopping, which offers an e-Commerce experience [for the consumer] on the shopping path.”
An analysis of Google Shopping click streams indicates retailers are finding the value in Google Shopping, Kochenash reported, and are receiving increased traffic.
Amazon As A Search Engine
Amazon U.S. e-Commerce sales has increased by 10% since 2011 and has experienced a more than 20% increase in U.S. growth rates year-over-year, according to a recent Forrester report.
“Consumers aren’t just going on Amazon to buy products,” noted Kochenash. “It’s a search engine, a publisher, the Wikipedia of products.” As a result, retailers are leveraging Amazon product ads, he said, which resemble the product listing ads featured on Google. Kochenash offered insights on the advantages Amazon has over competitors, including Google, eBay, shopzilla and Best Buy, as summarized in this graphic:
As a retailer, Amazon offers broad assortment and value pricing for consumers, explained Kochenash. “As a publisher, Amazon has an authoritative product catalog that includes trusted data and great customer service,” he explained. “When you look at other comparison shopping sites as well as big box retailers, you notice various pain points, such as value pricing, trusted fulfillment and customer service, which Amazon has already addressed and is trying to make better.”
The Impact Of E-Commerce Sites On Retail
There are several best practices that retailers can learn from Amazon and Google. Among them is the continual repricing of goods to match or beat changing competitive prices. Shoppers armed with the “perfect information,” said Best, “are increasingly accepting of prices that change in real time.” The perfect information, he noted, includes product details such as size, features and functionalities, which helps consumers make better purchasing decisions.
However, while having this information in-store is a consumer advantage, “shoppers will not be willing to stand in line behind someone who has a printout or tablet with an Amazon price,” added Best, “and is haggling with a cashier, delaying the entire purchase process in a physical store.”