Sam Moore

Dec 17, 2015

87% of U.S. Holiday Shoppers Consult Amazon For Gifts, But Price Not #1 Reason to Buy

Mountain View, Calif. – December  17, 2015 – Following the Thanksgiving Holiday period’s record-setting online shopping season, a new consumer study from BloomReach fielded through the Thanksgiving shopping period – the heart 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 3,000 U.S. consumers on holiday shopping behavior uncovered some advantages and opportunities for retailers and search engines to regain market share in product search and purchases. BloomReach also separately surveyed 1,000 U.K. consumers on the same questions revealing eerily similar results, but the U.K. was a bit more likely to involve Amazon in their shopping.

Amazon continues to flex its muscles in almost every e-commerce category, with the BloomReach survey – conducted by Survata – indicating that consumers are expanding Amazon’s use cases – treating it more like a search engine.

  • 87% of consumers will comparison-shop on Amazon for their gift purchases.
  • 47% will comparison-shop on Amazon for approximately 50+% of their holiday purchases.
  • 73% will buy from Amazon.
  • 71% will spend more than a quarter of their budgets on Amazon; more than 31% will spend more than half.
  • Even if consumers find exactly what they want with acceptable prices and shipping, 28% would still compare the product on Amazon, with only 29% stating they’d buy it right then.

Many U.S. consumers appear to view Amazon’s product-searching capabilities better than search engines – specifically Google.

  • 39% said Amazon has better product-searching capabilities; 8% said Google; 53% said it was equivalent.
  • 46% of consumers won’t use Google Shopping to look for gifts, and 29% don’t know what it is.
  • 68% of Google Shopping users said they found the gifts they wanted half the time or less, with 24% 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 appears to be expanding its use cases to be more of its own retail search engine, as it was the place – online or offline – to get holiday gift ideas. About 40% 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:

  • 35% named Amazon as the starting point.
  • 23% said search engines.
  • 20% reported a preferred retailer’s physical store.
  • 14% named a preferred retailer’s website.
  • 6% said deal marketplaces like Groupon.

BloomReach asked Amazon shoppers exactly why they continually choose the company over other retailers. Surprisingly, prices were not the top reason. Approximately 43% of U.S. shoppers said the main reason was Amazon’s ability to intuitively find or predict exactly what they want more quickly. Only 33% said that better prices were the main reason.

In addition, retailers’ attempts to woo consumers with discounts and “door busters” are falling on more deaf ears, as both the U.S. survey and BloomReach internal data indicated that traditional shopping periods are changing, with the power of deals eroding.

  • 50% of consumers planned to shop for gifts after Christmas; 37% planned to purchase more than a quarter of their gifts after Christmas.
  • Most consumers (32%) don’t believe retailers are offering the best deals until after Christmas.
  • Most consumers (31%) planned to start holiday shopping before Black Friday. BloomReach internal data demonstrated that Veteran’s Day rivals Thanksgiving Day in both traffic and conversions.
  • 41% of U.S. consumers reported shopping on Black Friday, but 57% reported shopping on Cyber Monday. BloomReach internal data confirmed Cyber Monday’s better performance.

“Retailers have been bleeding themselves dry with deals and discounts to get consumers back, but this study and many sales reports indicate that this tactic isn’t often working. The price for consumers these days is time, the one thing we cannot make more of. There also is some consumer fatigue and mistrust that retailers aren’t offering their best prices anyway,” said Kaufman. “Make no mistake; price will still be central consumer sensitivity. However, a retail marketer might interpret these survey results as a dagger to the heart; but the good news is that consumers have provided some guidance. Consumers will buy more if you focus on omnichannel strategies, and save them time.”

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.

  • After a search on a search engine, more than 40% of holiday shoppers identified product listing ads as the most influential element to get their first click. However, a preferred retailer brand name was considered most influential by 35% of consumers.
  • When asked what their main frustration is with Amazon, most (23%) listed none, while only 8% thought search and navigation was a problem. However, 19% listed product uncertainty as the top frustration; 19% said price uncertainty; and another 19% said shipping.
  • Most consumers preferred to shop online this holiday season. The top two reasons provided were convenience (faster) at 38% and finding exactly what they want (relevance) at 23%.

As consumers value Amazon’s predictive experience as the top differentiator, U.S. consumers see other retailers’ digital experience as frustrating and have considerably low tolerance for irrelevance.

  • #1 consumer frustration about digital retailing: Irrelevant search results on a retailer’s site-search, followed closely by poor product descriptions.
  • 61% 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.
  • 51% will leave a site if they see three (3) irrelevant search results after searching on a retailer site.

BloomReach also surveyed 1,000 U.K. holiday shoppers with the same questions and found that the two countries are shockingly similar; however, the U.K. seemed even more likely to shop on Amazon. Approximately 90% will consult Amazon for their holiday purchases, with 80% buying from the company.

About BloomReach

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, and Williams-Sonoma. Learn more: