BloomReach Survey Shows New Retailer, Search Engine Struggles; Demonstrates Less Consumer Trust For "Deals"
LONDON, Dec. 17, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Following a record-setting Black Friday shopping weekend, a new U.K. consumer study from BloomReach fielded through the Black Friday shopping period – a central part of the holiday shopping season – found that retailers and search engines are facing new and expanding threats this holiday season from online superpower Amazon. However, the BloomReach survey of 1,000 U.K. consumers on holiday shopping behaviour uncovered some advantages and opportunities for retailers and search engines to regain market share in product search and purchases. BloomReach also separately surveyed 3,000 U.S. consumers with the same questions, uncovering eerily similar results.
Amazon continues to flex its muscles in almost every e-commerce category, with the BloomReach survey conducted by Survata indicating that U.K. consumers are expanding Amazon's use cases – treating it more like a search engine.
- 90% of consumers will consult Amazon on their gift purchases.
- 46% will comparison-shop on Amazon for approximately 50+% of their holiday purchases.
- 80% will buy from Amazon.
- 70% will spend more than a quarter of their budgets on Amazon; 33% will spend more than half.
- Even if consumers find exactly what they want with acceptable prices and shipping, 29% would still compare the product on Amazon; only 27% would buy it right then.
Many U.K. consumers appear to view Amazon's product-searching capabilities better than search engines – specifically Google.
- 43% say Amazon has better product-searching capabilities; 10% say Google; 47% say equivalent.
- 44% of consumers won't use Google Shopping to look for gifts. 32% don't know what it is.
- 66% of Google Shopping users said they found the gifts they wanted half the time or less, with 20% reporting they "never" found what they wanted.
"Probably the top advantage that Amazon has is its resources. Amazon has massive amounts of proprietary search and consumer-purchase data to apply its significant algorithmic intelligence for personalized search," said BloomReach Head of Marketing and Partnerships Joelle Kaufman. "If I'm a retailer, I have a mandate to look outside of my own data silo to better present exactly what my customers want very quickly. When consumers are used to typing in two letters in their own way and seeing exactly what they want, retailers can't rely on simply knowing who bought what."
Amazon also is perceived as the place – online or offline – to get holiday gift ideas. About 43% named Amazon as the starting point when they knew what they wanted to get a particular person. However, when they did not know what to get someone:
- 41% named Amazon as the starting point
- 27% said search engines
- 14% reported a preferred retailer's physical store
- 11% named a preferred retailer's website
BloomReach asked U.K. Amazon shoppers exactly why they continually choose the company over other retailers. Unlike the U.S. – which thought the superior experience was the main reason – 42% of U.K. shoppers named better prices as the top reason. Coming in at a close second, approximately 37% of U.K. shoppers said the main reason they choose Amazon is for its ability to intuitively find or predict exactly what they want more quickly.
Interestingly, the U.S. sensation "Black Friday," which follows the U.S. holiday Thanksgiving, seems to have picked up steam in the U.K. However, Black Friday – a traditional in-store shopping day – was overwhelmingly preferred by U.K. Shoppers to be an online-shopping day by a 74% to 26% margin. In addition, retailers' attempts to woo U.K. consumers with major shopping-day deals or "door busters" seemed to be less trusted, as U.K. shoppers indicated that they didn't expect retailers' best deals till after Christmas.
- 42% of consumers planned to shop for gifts after Christmas; 35% planned to purchase more than a quarter of their gifts after Christmas.
- Most consumers (39%) don't believe retailers are offering the best deals until after Christmas.
- 45% of U.K. consumers reported shopping on Black Friday, but 37% reported shopping on Cyber Monday. This is in stark contrast to the U.S., where Cyber Monday was bigger than Black Friday.
The survey results also uncovered insights for both search engines and retailers on how to influence consumer shopping and where to regain market share – specifically relating to search budgets and frustration factors. Consumers repeatedly said that quickly delivering exactly what they want was the prescription for success.
- Brand loyalty seemed to be slightly more powerful in the U.K. After searching on a search engine, 39% of holiday shoppers said that seeing a preferred retailer's brand name was the most influential thing to get their first click. Approximately 34% said that product listing ads were the most influential element.
- Interestingly, Amazon's shipping still is the top concern, as 26% named it "most frustrating." However, 25% said they had "no frustrations" with Amazon. Only 9% thought search and navigation was a problem.
- Most consumers preferred to shop online this holiday season. The top two reasons provided were logistics/convenience (faster) at 28%, and finding exactly what they want (relevance) at 26%.
As consumers value Amazon's predictive experience as a top differentiator, U.K. consumers see retailers' digital properties as frustrating and have considerably low tolerance for irrelevance.
- #1 consumer frustration about digital retailers: Poor product descriptions, followed by irrelevant search results on a retailer's site-search.
- 57% will only try twice to search for a product on a retailer's site before giving up.
- 56% expect a retailer site to have relevant auto-complete search functionality.
- 46% will leave a site if they see three (3) irrelevant search results after searching on a retailer site.
"Clearly there is nothing more frustrating to consumers than searching with their own words and not seeing the product they want. Nothing is more central to the Web than search, and at the core of search is a deeply personal expression of language," said Kaufman. "If you're not getting each individual's language right, then you might as well just redirect them to Amazon."
BloomReach also surveyed 3,000 U.S. holiday shoppers with the same questions and found that the two countries are shockingly similar; however the U.K. was slightly more likely to involve Amazon in holiday shopping. In the U.S., approximately 87% will consult Amazon for their holiday purchases, with 73% buying from the company.
The BloomReach Personalized Discovery Platform makes your content and products more discoverable with applications for organic search, personalized site-search and digital marketing and merchandising. BloomReach's core technology – the Web Relevance Engine – uses natural-language processing and machine-learning to algorithmically understand content and visitors, matching it with demand and intent data from across the Web.
Created in 2009, BloomReach is headquartered in Mountain View, Calif., with offices worldwide and is backed by investment firms Bain Capital Ventures, NEA and Lightspeed Ventures. BloomReach's portfolio of customers includes Neiman Marcus, Sears Outlet, Kohl's, Staples, Drugstore.com and Williams-Sonoma. Learn more: www.bloomreach.com.