Should Google be frightened of Amazon, and the behemoth shopping site they have become? Investor Bill Gurley made a number of startling comments about the subject in an interview at the Sailthru e-commerce conference about the Future of e-Commerce.
In his comments about Amazon, he talks about “reversal of funnel” Where Google was once the first search when looking for a product, now users often start with Amazon. Prime users, who can get delivery of most items within a day and a half, some within a day, often start searches for a product on Amazon, with “Prime” checked, then uncheck Prime and search again, and finally if that does not work, go to Google as a last resort..
The Big Changes In eCommerce
The Reversal of Funnel
Gurley’s point is that the user experience at Amazon has succeeded on certain key levels that make customers comfortable going around Goolge, resulting in the reversal of funnel.. Customers start at the bottom of the funnel rather than the top, where Google has always thrived. Amazon customers have:
- Nearly zero anxiety about product quality
- Immense trust in deliverability
- Trust on Price
He also mentions the change in Google Trends. which still can be a method to developing killer content, but many searches don’t have nearly the traction they did just a few years ago. Gurley uses the example of “limousine,” which according to his own research is about 20% of its peak seven years ago. “Why would anyone in San Francisco type limousine in Google Search now?” he asks. “there’s no point in it.”
So if you find yourself asking how effective your paid search strategy is, how well your content is performing on Google, and how organic efforts are performing vs. paid efforts, and you find the answers less than satisfying, you may find Google is not your search problem, but instead your strategy is flawed.
What can we learn from Amazon’s strategy? Rather than focusing on the technical aspect of how to “work” Google and other search engines, instead focus on the basics of marketing strategy, simply applied to an online world, realizing it is your customer, not Google, that you serve.
Know your Customer
The first step is to know your customer or target audience. Where and how do they search? Are you creating content on your site that aids that search, or it?
For example, people prefer lists with choices, whether a review of different products, or innovative ways to use something. In this way, the selling process becomes collaborative, a method potential customers use to deal with the excess of content about a specific subject.
Questions to ask:
- Is your website content shareable?
- Is it something others would want to quote or link to?
If it’s not, what are the steps you can take to change those things?
Focus on User Experience
Amazon has built a platform with the logistics to back up helping the user overcome any obstacles to clicking through and buying a product. They are listed above, and can be turned into focus questions you can ask yourself about your own ecommerce site.:
Does the quality of my website and online content speak to the quality of my product?
If you are sloppy about your web content or website user experience, the buyer may wonder if this lack of focus on quality translates to your product. Creating a fluid user experience keeps your customer engaged, and reduces their temptation to leave your site and Google your product, finding a similar item elsewhere.
Can customers trust packaging quality and deliverability?
What method are you using to ship your product? Do you offer several reliable options? .Do you mark up your shipping, or offer certain options free? The answer to these questions will determine if your customer stays in place, or wanders.
Are your products priced competitively, but not too cheaply?
Essentially can the customer trust that you are not out to gouge them? If they do look around at other options, what will they find? To answer these questions, it means you must look at yourself and honestly evaluate your pricing strategy.
It is tempting, especially for startups, to base prices on cost or on their competition. Either way, the result can be products that cost too much or too little. Frederick G. Crane of Northeastern University School of Business suggests an article in the Wall Street Journal titled “Start With Demand Based Pricing” that you start there instead. This approach means you have to engage with customers to find out what they are willing and able to pay and what they perceive as the value of what you are selling.
While more time-consuming at the outset, this method creates early engagement with customers who are already looking to purchase.
Does your site have an effective on-site search tool?
How likely is it that if a customer finds one product on your site, they will find a complementary product during the same visit?
In whatever area you specialize in, can you reverse the funnel, and get users to come directly to your site first before they go to Google or another search engine? It might seem like a challenge, but imitating one of the largest and most successful e-commerce sites in the world can’t hurt.
Is Google really in trouble?
Should they feel threatened in the search arena by media networks and other sites where users can search for content and products? Maybe not right away. After all, the giant does bring all of the searches together in one convenient location. But for e-commerce shoppers who already know what they want, and potentially where they might want to get it, Google may become a second or third option sooner rather than later. That’s sure to affect revenue from ecommerce, one of Google’s most lucrative sources..