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Chart via Bloomreach.
Chart via Bloomreach.

Amazon is king when it comes to online shopping — and that dominance starts from the very moment people start searching for products online.

A new study from BloomReach, a “personalized discovery platform” company, shows that 44 percent of U.S. consumers pick Amazon when they begin their online shopping process before using a search engine like Google (34 percent) or a retailer’s own site (21 percent).

amazonThat’s up from a year ago, when Forrester Research found that 39 percent of online shoppers started on Amazon, and up from 2012, when Forrester found that 30 percent started on Amazon.

The survey polled 2,000 customers, 75 percent of whom said that Amazon was the online retailer that “personalized” the best. Only 9 percent picked Walmart and 8 percent said eBay had the best personalization options.

A large majority (87 percent) also said they would “specifically buy from the company that best predicts their intent and suggests products intuitively over all others.”

In addition, BloomReach polled 500 U.S. online retail marketers, 44 percent of whom “feared Amazon as their greatest threat.”

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

“Amazon has turned a slow-bleed of search engines’ and retailers’ e-commerce importance into a gushing wound,” Joelle Kaufman, head of marketing and partnerships for BloomReach, said in a statement. “Search engines like Google have done their part by making product discovery and search intuitive, convenient and seamless; but if retailers want to slow Amazon’s dominance, then they must integrate technology that creates frictionless experiences for their customers across channels. Amazon has a commanding lead, but retailer personalization and brand experiences can power a counterattack.”

Amazon first passed Google as the top destination for U.S. online shoppers in 2012, according to another Forrester Research report covered by Search Engine Watch. A year ago, Google executive Eric Schmidt said that Amazon was his company’s biggest search competitor. The search giant has rolled out a bevy of shopping-focused initiatives over the past few years as it tries to compete with Amazon and others.

Part of Amazon’s success as a shopping destination can be credited toward increased sign-ups for its $99 per year Prime membership program that grants customers free two-day delivery on millions of items. Over the past couple of years, the company has been adding additional benefits to the program, such as free streaming TV. More recently, customers in some markets have received other benefits, like faster same-day delivery, or Prime Now delivery, which can get select items delivered to your front door within two hours for free.

Amazon does not reveal exact Prime membership numbers, but some analysts say there are as many as 80 million Prime members worldwide and 50-to-60 million in the U.S.

Amazon beat Wall Street’s expectations with $23.18 billion in revenue and profit of $92 million, or 19 cents a share, in its most recent quarterly earnings report. Revenue was up 20 percent from the same quarter last year.

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