Simsi - 10:26 pm on Oct 10, 2013 (gmt 0)
Not being in the eCommerce sector and thus speaking as a consumer, if I am using the Internet to buy something, the only diversity I really need is in price.
Anyway, this thread is interesting so I decided to do a couple of eCom searches in google.co.uk (a new phone, new book by a favourite author and vacuum cleaner - see, I know how to live!) and see what the smaller sites further down the results offer me that the big names can't.
The main difference (and to a degree, selling point) between the sites seems to be in the layout - some seem easier to use "at a glance" to be fair - and in some instances, small price fluxes but not obviously significant on these terms. But nothing jumped out at me as that original or unique in any offering (brand names included).
I hope you realise I am not saying this to be confrontational or patronising but just to try and add some alternative thought to the debate .
Since the brands added user reviews, I reckon I buy 99% of my mainstream stuff from Amazon or a familiar/high-street brand because I feel comfortable with that. To visit a name I don't know would need a significant price difference and even then, I'd probably research user opinions on that retailer before I purchased.
I'd use a price comparison site occasionally but you only need one of those...they mostly tend to offer up the same retailers from experience.
One thing I think smaller sites could do better is opinionate on the products they sell. If a site offers up some honesty in it's reviews and told you why a product wasn't as good as another, that would be beneficial - and unusual.
The bottom line is that unless there truly is something superbly unique abut a smaller site, I would buy from a name I know and consequently would prefer to have these near the top of SERPS. I agree site crowding is rubbish but that wasn't an issue in my searches.