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Customers choose ecommerce marketplaces over search engines

How to Grow Your Share in a Competitive Market

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Internet users perform two types of online searches: seeking information and seeking products and services. Traditionally, the two kinds of searches have had minimal crossover. Usually, cross-traffic stemmed from an informational search via a traditional search engine that led to a specific product or service search within an ecommerce marketplace like Amazon.

To save time and money, more consumers are now launching their searches through a marketplace. Tech Radar cites our on-demand economy as setting the bar for speed, convenience, and quality of searches. Customers are turning their focus to the marketplace to find as many solutions in one place as possible.

Why are marketplaces set to overtake traditional search engines as platforms of choice? Here are a few reasons to consider:

  • AI may be friendlier with the next generation of marketplace-based search engines.
  • The Amazon Appstore promotes its own Amazon Marketplace by selling tools that assist in the search and solution process on its platform.
  • Multiple random search engines, such as Google, Bing and DuckDuckGo, offer similar functional-but-general results, while a marketplace brings consumers closer to a solution right away.

Consumers are looking for ways to improve their shopping experiences — and they’ll leave outmoded retailers behind. Get familiar with the shift in how shoppers are finding and buying their favorite brands and what you can do to keep up with the changes.

Amazon (not Google) is king in product searches

The shift from Google to Amazon as an e-commerce search engine is already happening. About 46.7% of U.S. internet users now start product searches directly on Amazon. That number towers over Google’s 34.6%, as reported by Digital Commerce 360. It is similar to the idea of one-stop shopping, mainly since 41% of shoppers prefer to proceed with their purchase at Amazon. Only 28% of the shoppers who begin their product search on a traditional search engine would go on to buy directly from Amazon.

  • Shoppers in the on-demand economy look for speed, convenience and quality in their product searches. That’s why they’re turning to visiting a marketplace for searches over traditional product search engines.
  • About 54% of U.S. internet users start their product searches directly on Amazon versus 34.6% of users choosing Google.
  • The conversion rate for Amazon Prime customers from searchers to buyers is 74%, while the Top 500 ecommerce websites convert shoppers to buyers at 3.3%.

During the mid-2000s and early 2010s, few people could have imagined any search engine giving Google a run for its money. The Goliath of search has faced its competition in engines like Bing and DuckDuckGo.

Regardless of the competition, Google remained the home of all internet search for several years. The nature of the search was irrelevant. Users searched for items and information that included shoes, clothing, power tools, film and TV trivia, biography entries, information on the American Revolutionary War and much more. Google was the tried and trusted search engine for it all.

Internet users still primarily rely on Google, which is evident as it has captured over 90% of the world market share of search. But there’s always a new challenger that brings new ideas to integrate. Customers are setting a new tone by using  marketplace searches for shopping online.

Customers want more control over their shopping experiences

Consumers continue to seek ways to optimize their shopping and buying experiences for the sake of convenience and price. This shift offers a bounty of opportunities for retailers looking to  meet those demands.

Shopping through marketplaces allows customers to create their own experiences. A lot of work goes into researching and comparing new products. Search engines like Google are great for aggregating a lot of information quickly, but marketplaces have the key data that customers need to finalize a purchasing decision, like prices, user reviews, ingredients lists, product photos and more.

Sometimes a customer might use a marketplace just for researching a product, then turn to Google to find the best place to make their purchase — or even seek out the product in a brick-and-mortar store. But if the marketplace has the item they’re looking for, at the right price and can answer all their questions and concerns without leaving the page, what additional value does a search engine have to offer?

All of this means that companies should start thinking about how to play nice with marketplaces. Whether that means listing your products or building a storefront on Amazon, or integrating the desired product search and purchasing features into your social shopping listings, the massive shift of shoppers to marketplace searches is a wake-up call to retailers seeking to keep their customers engaged. 

Make CX and UX central to your online store

As business leaders wait on the trend of moving away from brand websites to spots like Amazon’s Marketplace, they risk losing customers. Online sellers must find ways to regain some of their brand’s power. Amazon converts buyers at a far faster and superior rate than a standard ecommerce website. The conversion rate for Amazon Prime customers stands at a massive 74%, while the Top 500 ecommerce websites convert a mere 3.3%. Buyer intent alone is exceptionally high for customers visiting

None of this means that a merchant should give up. Businesses must learn how to provide peak customer experience (CX) that will drive consumers to the merchant’s website and keep them there until they make the sale.

Retail leaders can find ideas just by observing what Amazon does to stay ahead. Here are a few ideas for merchants to follow for success:

  • Invest in finding, collecting, analyzing and using stellar product data.
  • Spend resources on expanding omnichannel experiences.
  • Emphasize the community and social aspects of shopping by encouraging users to leave reviews and ratings for products on your website.
  • Provide specific and valuable advice on products and on related topics.

The successes and shortcomings from search and ecommerce giants influence retail developments. With diligence and attention to Amazon’s established strategy, merchants can catch up to the significant changes on the horizon when it comes to searching on Amazon and in the Amazon Marketplace versus the traditional search engine.

Photo by Getty Images

Chris Martinez

Chris Martinez

Chris is a content strategist at Signifyd.