Is Amazon the Biggest Threat to Google?

Interesting article I read which talked about how Amazon is positioning itself as Google’s biggest threat and competitor. The gist of the article follows the premise that search (and more importantly Paid Search) often precedes the action of purchasing something online. Given this correlation, the article talks about how people can just search on Amazon for their products and reduce the time spent searching. The idea maintains that Amazon (and their affiliate network of resellers) can provide better, faster, potentially more secure service transactions than the current search paradigm that is utilized by the majority of internet shoppers.

Typically, an internet shopper would go to Google, search their keywords, the organic and paid search results would appear, and the viewer would click a link. That link would take them to a website which they would have to navigate through. If they wanted to purchase an item, a personal account profile would have to be created. A payment gateway or shopping cart (of sometimes questionable origin) would also have to be utilized.

The “Amazon Paradigm” would mean prospective internet purchasers would bypass Google and simply go to Amazon and perform their initial search. The Amazon search would pull up any affiliate resellers for that product, and the actual purchase transaction would be done through Amazon (and their very safe and secure payment gateway).

If I was going to shoot holes in this theory (of course I am….):

  • While I have purchased products from Amazon and their affiliates, I wouldn’t say that I purchase alot of products from them. However, I use Google every day, for hours a day. So on a typical day, I might spend 2-3 hours going back and forth to Google search, while I may not visit Amazon at all.
  • I don’t just use the internet to purchase products. While this might seem like a pretty obvious caveat, from a marketing perspective it has a huge impact on this theory. Building brand awareness and brand loyalty isn’t just about reducing the number of clicks or seconds it takes to make a transaction online. It’s about educating your audience about your product, and often, that requires time, because you want your customers to invest in you and your product.
  • On Amazon, affiliate resellers basically work in a commodities market. As an example, the last purchase I made on Amazon was for Chemex coffee filters. There were probably a dozen affiliates selling the exact same product, some had free shipping, some were cheaper, but as for the product, it was exactly the same from all of them. A commodity. There’s no need for a brand here. Decisions are based solely on price.
  • With Paid Search (Google or otherwise), the goal of the search index result is to send them to a webpage that you the seller has full control over. Here you can build brand awareness, identity, and preference through the content of your website. Your brand is not treated like a commodity and indexed by price.