eCommerce Insiders

How Amazon Outmuscled Google For eRetail Product Search Results

When eCommerce shoppers are looking for that new dress, their child’s new toy, or those bulk items that are hard to find inside traditional grocery stores, one would suppose that they’d perform Google searches in order to find products they want to purchase.

But according to a survey conducted on over 1000 U.S. eCommerce consumers by PowerReviews, more eCommerce consumers are using a non-traditional (yet logical) resource to find information on the products they’d like to purchase: Amazon.

Amazon the search engine?

While the Amazon site wasn’t constructed with serving as a search engine in mind, more consumers are finding that it makes sense to skip past sifting through the deluge of information on Google, and instead, find what they’re looking for on Amazon for a handful of highly-logical reasons:

1. Their search feature is highly effective

If a shopper can’t find what they’re looking for on Amazon, then it’s either not sold via the platform, or chances are good that the product doesn’t exist. The fact is, Amazon does such a thorough job in sourcing products from the company and from vendor partners, consumers are often sure to find what they’re looking for, in a vast variety of product categories.

2. An abundance of customer reviews

Amazon placed the star-review system on the map. Shoppers are more likely to make a positive buying decision once their fears and concerns are quelled by social proof. In fact, Entrepreneur Magazine notes that “Online reviews are the new social proof.” They explain:

Science describes social proof as a psychological phenomenon in which people follow the actions of others in an effort to reflect what is considered correct behavior for any given situation — including online experiences. Simply put, social proof influences people’s decisions on how they should behave.

The Wall Street Journal, states:

Social norms influence consumption behavior and even private interests, including one’s taste in music. This is what makes the concept of social proof a powerful one.

3. Amazon often features the best deals

eCommerce consumers shop online in large part because they value saving time. They often don’t have the time or the inclination to sift through Google’s search results, trying to find the best deal for their purchase.

When the same consumers plug in a product search on Amazon, they’ll immediately find a streamlined, convenient listing of prices for their product, depending upon how the actual product vendor has priced the product.

4. Amazon wins with free shipping

One of the foundational benefits to shopping on Amazon rests in its Prime program. The Prime program is a subscription product that allows Amazon shoppers to pay either an annual fee, or more recently, a monthly fee. This fee includes a plethora of platform benefits, including free two-day shipping. But in recent months, Amazon has been known to offer free shipping in exchange for customer consent on slower shipping of their purchase.

This is a benefit that, until recently, no other online retailer has been able to beat across the board. On January 31st, Walmart announced that they would be rolling out free 2-day shipping on more than two million products to anyone who shops on their site. No membership required. It will be interesting to see how this affects Amazon’s subscription model.

Nevertheless, as it stands, impatient eCommerce shoppers aren’t going to click through a search engine results page to find a retailer that offers free shipping. Hence why a company like Amazon is thriving.

5. Amazon sells a mind-boggling quantity of products

As mentioned earlier, if a consumer can’t find a product via Amazon’s platform, then the product might not exist. Amazon has become the king of online retail in large part because of its ability to generate vast revenue during the course of a single consumer transaction.

For example, the customer who came to Amazon looking for their child’s toy can also purchase a new dress, a pair of jeans, shoes, personal toiletries, housecleaning supplies, music from their favorite artist, snacks, and in some cases, groceries…all within the same sales transaction!

Best of all, the same shopper is sure to find everything they purchased at the best prices possible, all shipped from the same logistics carrier. They’ll be able to research their previous orders all within their account information on the platform— they won’t face the need to search through a plethora of emails and sales receipts from different online retailers.

They’ll also avoid the need to create different online retail accounts, and related passwords.

6. Mobile users prefer Amazon product searches

Finally, mobile users simply enjoy the streamline process of finding products via Amazon. Due to the search habits and the lifestyles of the typical mobile device shopper, they appreciate being able to avoid as many online search processes as possible.

The Amazon platform is highly optimized for mobile shoppers, and shoppers are often able to make streamlined purchases at lightening speed, often at the click of a button.

While Google searches are a long way from going the way of the dinosaur, it’s clear that Amazon has unintentionally created a way to claim dominance in the search space, in addition to dominating eCommerce. According to Bloom Research:

44 percent of users start product searches on Amazon; 34 percent start with a search engine. A 2013 Forrester survey found 30 percent of respondents used Amazon to start product research, while 13 percent started with Google.

Terri Scott

Terri is a content marketing storyteller and strategist. She teaches marketing and entrepreneurship through stories for marketers of all stripes. Her specialty is creating narrative and she writes essays and memoir in her spare time.

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