Amazon has, in every regard, become the behemoth of online retail. Sitting at number nine on the Alexa global website ranking and number one on the Internet Retailer ranking, it has long established itself as the top global marketplace. However, a recent study shows that it may not always be the first stop for online shoppers when in search of an item.
Through a survey of 1,000 UK consumers it was revealed that 78% of respondents would defect to Amazon in the event that they were unable to find what they were looking for on another site. This is a huge number, and a reflection of just how ubiquitous Amazon has become.
The Seattle-based company presents both an opportunity and a threat for brands and other retailers. The potential to sell through its marketplace and access its enormous global market is certainly an appealing prospect to smaller businesses; the commission that is taken, however, (up to 25%) is not. We have also begun to see what has been referred to as the “Amazon Effect,” a lessening of competition in the online market as Amazon undercuts its opponents in terms of price, scale, and convenience.
This study suggests there are big implications for smaller retailers looking to reassert their own position in the eCommerce landscape. Clearly, some portion of Amazon’s success comes from consumers who found its competitors’ sites unusable. The issue here isn’t that Amazon is stealing customers away, but rather that other brands and retailers are simply letting them leave.
Examples of consumers’ frustrations included in the study involved sites being “too busy,” “difficult to navigate,” and “style over substance.” Another study has shown that 73% of shoppers will leave a site within two minutes if they can’t find what they’re looking for. In all of these cases, the answer for retailers is clear: give online shoppers the tools to find what they are looking for—quickly.
Actually putting together a clear, effective, and engaging website is a slightly different process for every company, based on product selection, customer preferences, and brand identity. However, here are several considerations that will help any site to get moving in the right direction.
1. Design — From your homepage to your category and product pages, everything should be designed to streamline the customer towards the product they want. For example, your search bar should be large and prominently placed, and popular or important items should be featured above the fold (visible without scrolling). The best way to improve your design is to test it and see what works.
2. Product Metadata — Make sure you present your products in the same terms that your customers will use to search. Ensuring that every product you sell is properly labeled, well-described, and features a high-quality photograph will allow people to find what they’re looking for, whether they’re coming through your website or from a search engine.
3. Site Search and Navigation — Once you’ve made sure that your customers know how to find the products and that the products are ready to be found, its just a matter of getting people from point A to point B. A high-quality site search function is the most direct way to do this, and the most helpful for somebody who knows exactly what they’re looking for. Comprehensive site navigation is also crucial—shoppers often know everything about the product they want except for its name.
With this kind of evidence emerging it is clear that a demand for smaller retailers does still exist, it’s up to you to turn your eCommerce site into a real competitor, and make Amazon fight for its market share.