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Amazon Is Absolutely Eviscerating Other Retailers Online, New Survey Shows

The survey underscores Amazon's competitive threat not only to traditional retailers, but to Google, too.

Asa Mathat
Jason Del Rey has been a business journalist for 15 years and has covered Amazon, Walmart, and the e-commerce industry for the last decade. He was a senior correspondent at Vox.

How dominant is Amazon becoming in online retail? More than four in 10 people turn to Amazon first when searching for products online, according to a survey commissioned by the e-commerce software startup BloomReach.

In a survey of 2,000 online shoppers in the U.S., 44 percent of respondents said they go directly to Amazon when looking to buy or research a product online. Thirty-four percent use search engines like Google as first stops for product searches. And just 21 percent start an online shopping trip by searching on another retailer’s website, according to the survey.

For comparison’s sake, a 2012 Forrester Research study found that at that time, 30 percent of U.S. online shoppers started on Amazon and 13 percent started on search engines. The comparison isn’t perfect, because these were two surveys carried out by two different organizations with potentially different methodologies. But it wouldn’t be surprising if Amazon experienced such a market-share jump with the momentum it has.

The new results highlight Amazon’s increased success in making its name synonymous with online shopping in the U.S and distancing itself from brick-and-mortar retailers. A large part of this success is the result of its Amazon Prime membership program, which provides shoppers with two-day shipping and other goodies like free photo storage and video streaming for $99 a year. Amazon has been steadily adding new perks to the program, such as free two-hour delivery in some cities, to retain its tens of millions of members and to add new ones.

The survey also underscores Amazon’s competitive threat not only to traditional retailers, but to Google, too. Product searches are some of the most lucrative for Google, because of the ads they sell alongside normal search results. This threat is a big reason why Google has tried to get aggressive in commerce, with initiatives like its Google Express shopping-delivery service and Buy buttons on mobile ads.

BloomReach’s impetus for conducting the survey is, unsurprisingly, self-serving. The company sells software that personalizes the pages of e-commerce sites for individual shoppers. BloomReach believes more personalized product pages can help online retailers compete better.

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