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Year-on-year drop in retailers using third-party marketing channels

Published: 8 March 2019 - Fiona Garcia

Use of third-party platforms like Amazon, Ebay and Google has dropped amongst the UK’s top 250 retailers, according to an industry report – this is despite new figures that nine in 10 shoppers buy from Amazon and more than half presume Amazon has the cheapest prices.

The statistics were reported by e-commerce and digital agency, Visualsoft, which found that just 36% of retailers utilise marketplaces such as Amazon and Ebay as part of their sales activity – a drop from 39% in 2017.

This is despite latest figures showing the value of such platforms; for example, 45% of consumers are more likely to go first to Amazon when looking for an item than anywhere else.

The analysis also found that just 28% of the UK’s top 250 retailers are utilising Google Shopping; a 3% drop since last year.

Recent studies show that Google Shopping adverts are driving three-quarters (76%) of the global retail search advertising spend – a huge share of market.

Visualsoft head of onboarding Chris Fletcher commented: “The retail market is becoming increasingly fragmented, with an ever-growing range of channels through which shoppers can begin, continue and end their purchasing journey. Whilst focusing on an effective website is vital, brands must never underestimate the importance of multi-channel selling.

“Worryingly, the figures have slumped slightly across key metrics – most of which were already underperforming. Many leading brands are therefore swimming against the tide of consumer behaviour and missing out on growth opportunities as a result.

“Brands that fall outside of the top 250 should therefore be jumping at the chance to make the most of this channel and the sales boost it can provide.”

Meanwhile, new research from Mintel reveals that almost nine in 10 (86%) Brits are Amazon users/shoppers. Highlighting the ongoing popularity of the retail giant, according to Mintel, more Amazon shoppers have increased their shopping (21%) with the retailer than decreased it (13%) over the past year. Overall, 70% Amazon customers shop with the retailer at least once a month, while 17% use the retailer on a weekly basis.

Inherent trust in the retail giant is confirmed by the fact that 51% of Amazon users assume that the e-retailer has the cheapest prices, while 59% say they are loyal to the company. What is more, 70% of Amazon shoppers say it is the first retailer they go to when shopping online.

Mintel associate director of retail Nick Carroll said: “Amazon is a phenomenon of 21st century retail. In a little over 20 years, it has grown to be a retailer that nearly all consumers use. It has achieved this through a relentless focus on customer-facing investment and innovation. Amazon started selling books, but now holds a significant share in almost all retail categories, helped by the incubation of thousands of independent sellers through its Marketplace scheme. The retail giant has expanded far past the bounds of normal retail operations into media streaming, consumer electronics and cloud computing. Amazon has built a platform that customers are both happy to use, and pay for the privilege of doing so via its various subscription services.”

The impact of Amazon’s reach into the physical retail sector is confirmed by the fact that almost half of Amazon users believe that the e-tailer is responsible for physical stores closing. Meanwhile, 75% of Amazon shoppers say they often check the prices of products they see in-store on Amazon. And , the likelihood is that physical retailers are being used as showrooms, as 70% of Amazon shoppers say they research products elsewhere but then buy via the site.

But while many acknowledge the negative impact of Amazon on the high street, some 40% of Amazon users believe it supports independent retailers and 29% believe that shopping via Amazon Smile is a good way to give to charity.

Mr Carroll concluded: “Amazon’s growth has, no doubt, wounded rivals but it is not the ‘high street killer’ that it is often painted out to be. It has certainly led on, and to a degree enforced, many trends that have come to define 21st century retail, however, it is not all conquering at present. Indeed, even if the retailer accounted for roughly 50% of the online market held by online-only retailers, it would only account for around 9% of all UK retail sales. And, despite the popularity of online retailing as a whole, the vast majority of all retail sales (82%) in the UK still come through physical stores. This leaves much room for its own growth but equally for rivals to fight back.” 



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