Searching for Amazon Success

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You would be hard pressed to find a retailer or brand that is not asking some questions about how Amazon will impact their business over the holiday shopping season. Amazon has gone to great lengths to establish itself as the place consumers visit online to search for holiday products.

1 in 2 consumers who visit Amazon in a month conduct an onsite search and are exposed to a search results page according to new Compete research.  At first glance, you would expect the number to be higher. However, Amazon has done an increasingly effective job of bringing searchers directly to products or category landing pages based on keywords. There are also those consumers that are conducting external searches that direct them to a product.

Compete conducted some research to better understand the relationship between search listing position and both product engagement and product purchase. We analyzed the onsite search behavior of all consumers visiting Amazon and compared it to consumers who searched for small kitchen appliances. For the purposes of this analysis, small kitchen appliances were defined as searches for microwaves, toasters, blenders and waffle irons. Analysis was focused to the top 15 listings which generally equates to one page worth of search results on Amazon.

Consumer on-site search activity on suggests trips are very ‘mission’ oriented.

We looked at the total number of listings that consumers click on when conducting an on-site search for kitchen appliances on and compared to all search activity.

Average Number of On-site Search Listings Clicked


Small kitchen appliances searchers clicked on just roughly two-thirds fewer listings when compared to all other category on-site searches on Amazon.

The relatively low number of as search listings clicked suggests that consumers are shopping Amazon to price-compare or find a very specific product. Much has been written about the concept of showrooming – visiting a physical retailer store such as Best Buy to interact/engage with a product, then going to Amazon to buy the product because it is priced more competitively.

Significant opportunity to understand the drivers behind clicking on an on-site search listing.

Compete analyzed the clickthrough rates for each listing on a Amazon search results page to understand the impact that search listing order had on engagement.

On-site Search Listing clickthrough rate, by listing order

Surprisingly, only 44% of consumers who conducted an on-site search for kitchen small appliances on Amazon clicked on the first search result listed on the site. As a point of comparison, 54% of all on-site searches on Amazon resulted in the first search listing being clicked.

There appears to be a real opportunity to better understand the drivers that influence how and why a consumer clicks on the second through fourth Amazon search listings in particular.

For example, does a consumer click on the second listing because of price or because they prefer a stainless steel versus a black colored microwave? Much more behavioral research needs to be evaluated in your category to determine the drivers for clicking on subsequent Amazon on-site search listings beyond the first listing.

Being the first listing on Amazon does not guarantee conversion success.

Based on the data we have shared so far, it is hard to argue that being the first listing on an Amazon search results page won’t increase chances of engagement and/or consideration with your product.

However, purchase rate when clicking on the first small kitchen appliance Amazon search listing suggests that there is not a significant competitive advantage.  Amazon small kitchen applicance searchers who clicked on the first, second or third Amazon search listing ended up buying at the same rate.

On-site Search Listing Clickthrough & Purchase Rate, By List Order

This relatively large gap observed between the percentage of people who click on the first listing versus those who click and make a purchase suggests potential insight into Amazon search behavior. Perhaps the consumer is clicking on the first link to validate the accuracy of the search, reviews the first listing and then will conduct another search (or leave the site) if they feel like the first product they consider is not in line with what they were expecting.

The behaviors we observed also suggest that the consumer who clicks on the first listing is the consumer who is shopping on price and that subsequent listings are the consumer who is actively shopping on Amazon without any showrooming intent.

Looking ahead

On-site search figures to play an increasingly important role in the consumer path to purchase. Consumers will be exposed to fewer brands as they personalize their shopping paths based on their individual criteria.

Brands need to spend more time understanding and then acting on how on-site search behavior is driving engagement and purchase.  Retailers continue to challenge retailers to come to them with actionable, innovative insights. Brands should be working to understand:

  • What are the differences in Amazon on-site search behavior when consumers search on generic vs. branded terms?
  • How does on-site search behavior compare across online retailers?
  • To what degree do the number of search listings a consumer views impact their retailer cross-shop behavior?
  • Is there an impact in consumer on-site search behavior based on the search filter criteria selected?