Google Is Driving Less Traffic to E-Commerce Sites as It Ramps Up Its Own Shopping Efforts

The way shoppers search, discover and buy products online is changing, and retailers need to adapt to keep up with the competition.

While still the biggest individual referral source for major e-commerce websites, Google’s dominance has faded in the past three years, according to a new study by Jumpshot, an analytics company. Looking at traffic to 10 major e-commerce websites — Amazon, eBay, Home Depot, Walmart, Costco, Best Buy, Target, Macy’s, Wayfair and Kohl’s — the researchers found that Google referrals accounted for 40% in March 2019, down from 48.6% in January 2016.

Transaction volumes on these sites grew 20% during the same period, however, suggesting that increased traffic from other sources — including direct, email, social and non-Google referrals — translated to higher sales.

Increasingly, however, shoppers are beginning their online hunts with Amazon. A separate Jumpshot study found that the e-commerce behemoth now ranks first ahead of Google for product searches, capturing 54% of searches, compared with Google’s 46% in the second quarter of 2018.

There are some cases in which the search giant still reigns supreme, though: Shoppers tend to search for branded products on Google rather than Amazon. Soon they might be checking out there, too, since the Mountain View, Calif.-headquartered company announced this week that it will add a universal shopping cart feature across Search, Shopping, Images and YouTube as part of its push to capture more of the e-commerce market. The newly rebranded Google Shopping (formerly Google Express) will give brands and retailers more opportunities to get in front of shoppers through a new suite of ads, though these shoppers may not ultimately click through to their website to buy, opting instead to purchase on Google itself.

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