Amazon Search in Context: Time-to-Purchase Data Reveals Google Advantage

 In Shopping

While Amazon has shocked the world by outpacing Google when it comes to product searches (54% happen on Amazon), the data is showing that this doesn’t necessarily convert to purchases…at least immediately.

Additionally, Amazon’s sales growth in certain categories has plateaued, making many speculate that the ecommerce brand may be seeking other ways to build revenue.

Product Dominance Plateauing

Though Amazon is still dominant across dozens of categories in terms of market share, Amazon’s sales growth is actually not keeping pace with the growth of categories across all marketplaces.

Amazon is lagging behind general category growth in categories like Furniture, Women’s Clothing, and Food, while still remaining extremely competitive in Electronics, Health and Household Essentials.

To make up for this relatively slower growth, Amazon is focused on sponsored listings and suggested products: just this year the brand has seen a 17% increase in clicks from sponsored listings from January to May of 2017. Sponsored clicks now make up 7% of all product views on the site.

But How Long Does it Take a Shopper to Buy?

Across categories, the average time to conversion from Amazon search to purchase is 25.9 days, according to our data. The same time-to-conversion for Google search (the time between the search and a purchase on walmart.com, macys.com, or target.com) is just 19.6 days.

And while 35% of all purchases after a Google search occur in the first 5 days, just 19% of Amazon purchases fall in this window.

We see an even starker difference when we just isolate a category like Dog Food. Here 46% of non-Amazon purchases (on Chewy.com or Walmart.com) happen in that 0-5 day window. For Amazon, just 8% of purchases happen in this timeframe.

Part of this is likely do to Chewy’s aggressive Google search campaign. Anytime someone runs a search for a dog food brand on Google, the leading paid results almost invariably go to chewy.com. Because they’re searching at the brand level they likely know what kind of food their dog(s) like, and are ready to make a purchase.

For a category with a lower price point, the difference in time to conversion almost vanishes. Take paper towels, for example. Google search still has a faster time to conversion after search, (34 days for Amazon, 25 days for Google), but less than 20% of Google searches result in purchases in that first 5-day window.

Are Google and Amazon Switching Roles?

Amazon’s growth as a product search engine doesn’t necessarily mean it drives quick buys, as you might expect. Instead, that’s much more likely to happen on Google. But that’s not necessarily bad news for Amazon. One might even surmise that Google and Amazon are switching roles to a small extent.

Amazon is going from only a place to buy products to becoming a place to research and discover (potentially to the detriment of buying), while Google is transforming from top-of-funnel research and discovery into being the last touch before buying for anything not purchased on Amazon.

The investments both companies are making echo this trend:

  • Amazon building AdWords-like search tools and generating billions from search revenue
  • Google investing in checkout and product listing ads that get consumers to a product with a price faster and closer to the end of the funnel

We’ll see whether this role reversal has a bigger impact on either brand in terms of revenue potential long-term.

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