Amazon Crushing The Holiday Season: Report

Predictive search, rather than price, is the biggest draw for shoppers
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A new consumer study by digital services firm BloomReach shows that Amazon has utterly dominated the holiday selling season in online searches, shopping and sales.

A new consumer study by digital services firm BloomReach shows that Amazon has utterly dominated the holiday selling season in online searches, shopping and sales.

According to a survey of 3,000 Americans fielded during the Thanksgiving period, 73 percent planned to buy from Amazon during the holidays, with 71 percent expecting to spend more than a quarter of their shopping budgets with the e-tailer, and 31 percent planning to leave more than half their holiday funds there.

Amazon also crushes it on search: 35 percent of respondents named it as the starting point for their gift searches; 87 percent said they will comparison shop there for specific items; and 29 percent said they don’t know what Google Shopping is.

Surprisingly, Amazon’s custom search capabilities, rather than its low prices, are the main attraction for most shoppers. Only one-third of respondents cited price as Amazon’s biggest asset, while 43 percent were won over by its ability to intuitively find or predict exactly what they want more quickly.

“Probably the top advantage that Amazon has is its resources,” said BloomReach marketing and partnerships chief Joelle Kaufman. “Amazon has massive amounts of proprietary search and consumer-purchase data to apply its significant algorithmic intelligence for personalized search.”

Beyond Amazon, the study also showed that pre-Christmas doorbusters failed to woo a good chunk of shoppers, with 32 percent believing the best deals come after Christmas, and 50 percent planning to shop for gifts after the holiday.

“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,” Kaufman noted. “The price for consumers these days is time, the one thing we cannot make more of … 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.”

Nonetheless, most consumers said they preferred to shop online this holiday season, citing speed and convenience (38 percent) and finding exactly what they want (23 percent).

But consumer expectations for site functionality are also very high, and respondents showed a considerably low tolerance for irrelevant search results, which was cited as the No. 1 frustration when shopping online, followed closely by poor product descriptions. Consequently:

*61 percent will only try twice to search for a product on a retailer’s site before giving up;

*56 percent expect a retail site to have relevant auto-complete search functionality; and

*51 percent will leave a retail site if their search turns up three irrelevant results.

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