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Who is still using Google to shop?

 9:44 am on Oct 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

The shopping season is just around the corner, and I am asking myself if there are any changes in user shopping behavior due to the reduced diversity in Google SERPs for commodity item searches.

The Big Brands are going stronger than ever in Google, and we have reached the point where one can easily guess 7-8 out of the first 10 search results for any commodity item search.

Then, the question is: why search at all? Personally, I already know what 1-2 sites from the Big Brands I like to shop on and go directly there. Looking for home appliances, for example? I know how the results look like. Overstock, Walmart and BestBuy - but I don't like to shop there. Amazon is of course there too - good enough for me. But why use Google to get there? Google is an unnecessary step, the middlemen I can eliminate.

The same has been true for travel industry for a long time already. Who is using Google for hotel booking these days? It's all TripAdvisor there anyway. And TripAdvisor is a great site - I just go there directly and that's all I need.

Are there any signs of the shoppers behavior shifting? Or Google still remains the main doorway page to Internet shopping destinations?



 5:08 pm on Oct 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

Google is an unnecessary step, the middlemen I can eliminate.

From what I've seen, the average shopper is typing domain names into the search box - and it's happening even MORE than it used to.


 5:44 pm on Oct 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

As I understand it - my friends go straight to amazon.com - "I just go to amazon". :/


 3:21 am on Oct 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

I've never used Google to shop. Get reviews on an item I'm considering - yes. I prefer to shop at local stores, not online unless it's something that cannot be found locally (and that's rare).


 7:34 am on Oct 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

As many millions or billions is spent on online commerce, I probably spend 99% locally.

Food & drink, gas, energy, clothing, automotive, household items, entertainment, ...no internet required.


 8:23 am on Oct 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

There are still many niches where Amazon and the like have not taken over yet.

However I am glad I started years ago to build my own brand in my niche where customers go directly. If I had to start today, this would be extremly hard.


 9:01 am on Oct 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

I think the question is an excellent one and worth investigating. But a sampling of WebmasterWorld members might not be an accurate reflection of the world WIDE web.


 9:29 am on Oct 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

About the only time I shop for things, is for the wife. I often buy her sexy underwear, so I will Google whatever I am after. I will also use Google Images to see if there is something that I will like.

Say I was going to purchase a bra for her. I won't "just type" bra into Google. I'll type "Purple full cup 44F bra"

I may add USA or UK after my query if there are too many results, or may remove "purple" and check again. Once I have found the one I like, I will purchase it. That could be from the UK, USA, Canada etc. I am not too bothered where I am getting it from (although there are a few countries I will not deal with).

Sally Stitts

 3:36 pm on Oct 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

44F - oh, my goodness.


 3:39 pm on Oct 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

44F - oh, my goodness.
I know. Lucky, eh :) (and real)

 4:43 pm on Oct 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

"I just go to amazon". :/

My 24 year old daughter really only has two destinations Ebay and Facebook. Very occasionally she searches for other stuff but she always claims she has no need to go anywhere else!


 4:56 pm on Oct 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

yes. I prefer to shop at local stores, not online unless it's something that cannot be found locally (and that's rare).

same here...I don't know whether it is because of the culture here, I always prefer to go for a drive and shop...I use online only for items that I cannot get locally...

but google prefers to show local results...funny eh...


 5:52 pm on Oct 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

Let me shop for kitchen appliances with Google. Search for "Dishwasher", then for "Refrigerator" - 9 out of 10 domains match. "Dehumidifiers" - gives 3 new domains. "Microwaves" - only 1 out of 10 is new, and 9 met in the previous queries.

No matter what you search. It's all the same. Isn't Google effectively training people not to search? Pick your favorite store out of 10 they have for you, and don't search anymore cause it will always be the same 10 ....


 5:55 pm on Oct 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

On the other hand, when the organic are always the same ten, ads look more interesting ..


 9:03 pm on Oct 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

I think this is related. It's something I found to be slightly disturbing. From time to time I put a search phrase into Firefox. I generally go to a website or if not popular or exact match, I get sent to Google search results. However, yesterday, I typed in my phrase and I went to a google product page. It felt like I was spammed. Not sure how new this is, but I found this slightly sickening.


 9:28 pm on Oct 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

For what it's worth, I think that google is going to try more and more to take on amazon and ebay. I think that the stricter requirements for listing products in froogle / google merchant / whatever it is called now are really geared toward making it easier for visitors to compare prices / ratings / locations.

I think that the days when one can list products for free in google products is almost over. I think that once they gain enough market share, they will force merchants to do SOMETHING that will allow google to monetize google products (it might be requiring that the merchant accept google pay or have to pay some nominal fee).

(Maybe they will just monetize it with increased adwords pressence without charging merchants anything extra.)

I think that the biggest loser in all of this will be web hosting companies / shopping cart companies, because I believe that google is trying to make it so that companies don't even need to have a shopping cart - just a datafeed from a spreadsheet that they can upload.

I think that google will target merchants who may have balked at the costs of setting up and maintaining a shopping cart (there are still TONS of small shops that don't have a viable shopping cart), and after that, push for more established merchants.

Unless one can compete on price, I think branding (as a way to distinguish one's business) is going to be even more important in the near future.

Just my two centavos...


 10:24 pm on Oct 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

I have only one remaining site in froogle / Base and the owner is thinking of getting out of internet sales anyway - the B&M shop itself gets far more trade.

I noticed a while ago G wanted the official EAN/whatever product codes for the items and complained when I didn't supply them, since those codes are irrelevant in this market.

I won't be sorry to lose that froogle account. I'll close all my webmaster accounts at the same time and just wing it, like everyone used to.

I'm really looking forward to the day google stops being high up the UK SE list. They have far too much power and provide too little real traffic hereabouts.


 11:51 pm on Oct 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

There are a lot of conflicting information on this thread.

I'd like to know what percentage of online sales are by

1 Ebay
2 Amazaon
3 The top 500 Internet Retailer sites combined
4 All the small sites combined

My guess would be that the third one blwos them all away.


 12:24 am on Oct 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

1 Ebay
2 Amazaon

They are two companies I will not purchase from. Along with ioffer.


 1:05 am on Oct 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

I should have re-worded that

I'd like to know what percentage of online sales are by

1 Ebay
2 Amazon
3 The top 500 Internet Retailer sites combined
4 All the other auction sites combined
5 All the stand alone websites combined.


 3:48 am on Oct 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

my friends go straight to amazon.com

Same happening here. Amazon #1; eBay #2; CraigsList #3.



 11:06 am on Oct 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

Google is an unnecessary step, the middlemen I can eliminate.

Earlier, people who wanted to research (I say research, not buy) "red widgets" would type in the exact same term on Google and would go through the cluttered list of reviews, shopping sites and price comparison engines at one place.

But today, thanks to Google suggestion tools, the user would first type in "red widget review", read the reviews, then key in "red widget price", check out the market price of that, and finally when they want to buy, key in "red widget" or "buy red widget". In this final step of shopping, the user would like to be taken to the most authoritative sites selling the product.

Of course, you and I being webmasters would love our own website that we have worked so hard upon to be listed there. But then, how many of us shop at an unknown store versus one of the big brand Walmarts of the world? Translating this experience online, we must expect the user to be more comfortable clicking on an Amazon or Bestbuy link rather than a red-widget-online.com

Google is of course a middleman that can be done away with. But since the user has already made use of the middleman in the research and price comparison parts, they may as well use the same engine to complete their shopping as well.


 11:35 am on Oct 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

I shop online only when I know finding a parking space will be next to impossible near the store/shop. But I do make sure that I get the price quote from the shop (through a friend/family going there) which might change my decision as good and trusted online retailers are a select few (in India) and generally local shops give a much better deal.

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