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WundermanThompson Where Online Shoppers Start Their Search May2020More than 6 in 10 (63%) consumers in key e-commerce markets start their online shopping searches on Amazon, topping the percentage of those who start their purchase journeys on search engines. So finds a new report [download page] from Wunderman Thompson Commerce (WTC), which details Amazon’s continuing dominance in the digital commerce sector throughout the customer journey, but which also highlights why some consumers are turning to other retailers.

Amazon’s lead at the start of many customer journeys is likely behind the growing spend on Amazon ads – particularly given that most sales come from the top of Amazon’s search results.

About half (48%) of more than 14,000 online shoppers surveyed start their purchase journeys on search engines, making this channel attractive for retailers, even though click-through rates on Google Shopping ads saw a fall last year. Retailer sites are where one-third (33%) of consumers start their product search (multiple responses to the questions were allowed), followed by other marketplaces (25%) and the website of the customer’s desired brand (21%). Fewer customer journeys begin on comparison sites (10%) and social media sites (8%).

Digital commerce customer journeys increasingly come with a range of initial touchpoints, and consumers can be influenced as early on as when they’re finding inspiration. Amazon tops this list with more than half (52%) of respondents claiming they find inspiration on the site. WTC highlights that Amazon’s range of products and user interface has elevated it beyond a transactional experience and allowed customers to browse, though at this touchpoint search engines follow close behind (51%).

Consumers appear to be significantly more inspired by Amazon and search engines than other channels: 1 in 5 respondents get inspiration for product purchases from retailer sites, followed by other marketplaces (19%), social media channels (19%), brand websites (18%) and in-store (15%). Just 6% claimed to get inspiration from TV, emails or ads.

However, it’s worth noting that earlier research has come to slightly different findings. For example, a study by Episerver found that the percentage of shoppers claiming to use Google for both inspiration and to start a purchase journey was higher than for Amazon, although that study was in agreement that retailers’ own sites are further down the list.

With the full customer journey in mind, online retailers will want to retain customers just as much as gain them. Amazon Prime is one example of the loyalty schemes designed to keep existing customers, and respondents from all countries but France and Australia indicated a growth in Prime memberships since 2019. Among the respondents in the US, 7 in 10 stated they had a Prime membership. In other markets, the biggest increase was seen in the Netherlands (from 20% to 50%) and the UK (from 49% to 57%). Spain had the highest percentage of memberships (71%) of the countries surveyed, and Australia the lowest (23%).

WTC highlights that while Amazon may appear to be dominating digital commerce across the board, this is not always the case. Supermarket loyalty programs, for example, are more popular overall than Amazon Prime, with 74% of respondents belonging to one.

In addition, about two-thirds (68%) of consumers would choose another retailer over Amazon based on price. Amazon might be hard to compete with, however, as a study by Epsilon finds that Amazon shoppers associate the platform with low prices. Respondents also cite more convenient delivery options as a reason to choose another retailer (27%), as well as more attractive loyalty programs (23%), a better/more specialized product range (22%) and the existence of physical stores (19%).

Indeed, despite Amazon’s efforts to branch into a multiple-purpose online platform, the majority of consumers perceive it as a retailer (56%) and use it to purchase products (76%). Significantly fewer view it as an entertainment service (21%) and use it for entertainment purposes (36%), with 3 in 10 (29%) viewing it as an innovator.

The full report can be accessed here.

About the Data: Based on a Q1 2020 online survey of 14,103 consumers who shop online at least once a month in the UK, US, Australia, Germany, Spain, France and the Netherlands.

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