Google fights back against Amazon’s e-commerce dominance

Google has dominated consumer search for nearly 20 years. While this dominance continues today, there is one area of search where it is losing share rapidly: retail product search. Historically, it’s been one of Google’s biggest moneymakers, with retail search accounting for at least 25 percent of total search revenues.

A recent study by BloomReach indicates that 55 percent of consumers make their first product search on Amazon, more than double the rate for search engines. This is a staggering statistic and means that Amazon is more often than not the first place where shoppers go when they have a product in mind. Amazon has the opportunity to influence shopper behavior more than any other company, a position once held firmly by Google. Billions of dollars are at stake here.

While Google does not benefit from actually selling and fulfilling products, it has some significant assets and advantages that would allow it to compete better in retail search. All of these start with Google’s Shopping property, which has been a huge financial success over the past few years. Here are some thoughts on how it might better leverage its strengths and real estate to fight back against Amazon in product search.

Exploiting its massive inventory selection

Google receives feeds from hundreds of thousands of advertisers every day with unique SKUs counting into the billions. That is significantly more SKUs than Amazon hosts on its site; Google, in aggregate, has a better selection of inventory than Amazon. However, Google is currently less explicit on results pages about which items are currently in stock. This could be due to lack of accurate data from retail partners or a design challenge with the site overall. Either way, people often cite “Amazon has everything” as a reason for shopping there. This is not necessarily true, and Google needs to exploit this inventory advantage.

Pricing

Due to its inventory advantages and now standardized feed format across retailers and manufacturers, Google knows more about pricing across the internet than Amazon does. Google must do more with this information than it does currently. It must help consumers navigate to the most attractive offer for a given product, weighing product price, shipping fees and shipping date. By clearly highlighting the best offer (as opposed to relying solely on AdRank to drive ranking of products), Google will become more to consumers than just a start point for product search. It will become a trusted source for where to get the best deals online. And that kind of relationship with consumers can definitely help turn the tide against Amazon.

Shipping

Marc Lore, who now leads Walmart’s e-commerce business, recently…