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Marketplaces command consumer search, as shopper loyalty to brands withers

Google isn’t their first online starting point anymore

Marketplaces outstrip Google and brand websites when it comes for searching for products, as loyalty to brands and retailers has all but disappeared among consumers, international research shows.

According to a study of 6000 shoppers across the UK, Germany and the US by inriver, only 14% of respondents claim they likely wouldn’t switch to a competitive product if their first choice was unavailable and that marketplaces are overwhelmingly where they look for goods.

The Inside the mind of an online shopper report finds that marketplaces are now the starting point for 44% of all product research, accounting for the largest share of search, compared to only 19% for search engines themselves. Brands’ own websites comparatively languish, commanding only 9% of initial searches. This trend was particularly pronounced in those aged 18-24, where 52% use marketplaces as their starting points vs 18% search engines.

With consumers switching brands or websites in an instant if a product is out-of-stock or unavailable, the research also revealed more than two-thirds (69%) of shoppers have decided against buying products generally due to poor descriptions. Combine that with 45% of those surveyed feeling frustrated when faced with bad product information and 82% of shoppers likely to look at multiple locations for information on products, the report highlights how critical it is to optimise all content and ensure consistent and high-quality experiences across all channels.

Brands and retailers need to rely on their product content to do the selling for them with product information becoming a company’s digital front door. The research compounds this with 83% of shoppers agreeing that product information was either an essential or very important factor in purchasing decisions. And it is still written description that is seen as the most important detail (39%), outshining images (24%), customer reviews and ratings (19%), and video (12%). 

“It’s no longer good enough to excel across just one or two channels. Consistently high-quality experiences, findability, and availability are a must across all domains or brands and retailers risk losing significant sales. That simply isn’t an option during this year’s Golden Quarter with many expecting this year to reach record numbers,” says Thomas Zanzinger, CEO at inriver. “Brands can no longer rely on their name alone to seal the deal. Loyalty has shifted and brands need to ensure they’re meeting customer expectations both of the product and in the purchase journey to beat stiff competition on the digital shelf.”

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