– A Global Marketing Group Company

Remember when Amazon only sold books? Simpler times.

They’ve come quite a long way since their founding in 1994. Now in 2018, Amazon is predicted to claim nearly half (49.1%) of the total $525.69 billion retail ecommerce sales — up from 38.3% in 2016.

In last year’s Age of Amazon report published in September 2017, we told the story of the ecommerce giant and what its ascent means for marketers. Since then, Amazon’s growth has only accelerated, most notably as its market cap passed the $1 trillion mark.

Despite these wild successes, and despite fears of the impending retail apocalypse ever since Borders filed for bankruptcy in 2011, it seems that we’re entering an era of increased innovation among Amazon’s competitors.

Consumers today frequently browse and purchase on ecommerce retail sites beyond just Amazon — and marketers need to meet them there.

Where advertisers spend in ecommerce as compared to consumer behavior

One striking finding from a report we recently released with Catalyst, The Era of Ecommerce, was the misalignment between where consumers browse and purchase, and where advertisers spend money to attract their browsing and purchasing. Hint: not close.

Firstly: consumers research, compare, and purchase across a number of search engines and retailers — not just Google and Amazon. While 96% of consumers surveyed had visited Amazon within the last year, 78% also said they had visited the Walmart website to research or purchase.

Secondly: advertisers seem to spend and optimize predominantly for Google and Bing, then for Amazon, and then for other retailers. Findings showed that 85% of browsing and purchasing activity occurs on non-Amazon retailers — which only 25% of US brands say they have a strategy for.

Here’s a comparison from our study showing where consumers browse and purchase versus where advertisers market

advertiser consumer misalignment

Further proof that there’s always more to know about customer behavior.

On average, there was a 29 percentage point gap between the proportion of consumers who had visited a retailer to research and the proportion of brands who marketed on that retailer’s website (53% vs. 24%).

So what does all this mean for marketers?

As demonstrated in the figure above, there’s a lot of consumer shopping happening in places where marketers aren’t.

Even on Amazon — a place we (hopefully) all acknowledge is a big player — only 28% of responding brands have a defined strategy, and a further 38% are “working on it.” While the numbers are up since last year (17% of brands had a defined Amazon strategy in 2017), they are still quite low given the strategic importance.

96% of consumers reported having visited Amazon in the past year, but only 42% of brands that sell products on Amazon said they engaged in marketing there.

Take a moment to appreciate those numbers.

When we move to non-Amazon ecommerce retailers, the rift gets even more grim.

  • 75% of brands say they don’t have a defined strategy for non-Amazon retailers
  • 47% of brands who market on Amazon don’t market on Walmart
  • 4% of brands optimize their Product Display Pages (PDPs)
  • 3% track their organic search rankings
  • 2% buy display or paid search ads

Only 4% of brands optimize their PDPs on non-Amazon retailers, where 85% of browsing and purchasing activity is happening. Is this at least a little boggling to anyone else? 

The importance of non-Amazon retailers

Obviously marketing on Amazon is important — and something marketers could be a lot better at — but research is showing that they’re not the only retailer in the game.

As a side note, let’s remember that when we speak of overall retail (including physical), Walmart still takes the cake. There are 4,761 Walmart stores around the U.S., at least one of which is within 90% of the country’s population. They employ more people than live in Paris, and they’re now being called a digital disruptor. By the end of fiscal 2020, Walmart estimates ecommerce revenue growth to be about 35% and same-day delivery to be accessible to 60% of customers.

Walmart, the biggest retailer in the world, whose website 78% of consumers visit to research or purchase, and where half of brands who market on Amazon aren’t meeting their consumers.

So yes, Amazon is the top dog in ecommerce. But as we’re discovering, the online customer journey extends far beyond just them — and brands should play the full ecommerce field.  

For a more in-depth look at the ecommerce landscape, the role of Amazon, the wider industry, and how marketers can better strategize to meet online consumer behavior, download the full report here.

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