Amazon and Google are Top Online Sources of Gift Ideas for UK Shoppers, Finds New Study

…And More than One in Five UK Consumers will have looked on Facebook for Information on Gifts to Buy this Christmas.

London, 15th December, 2014 61 % of UK shoppers will have found gift ideas from researching the web site of online retailer, Amazon, this Christmas, with 50% getting ideas from searching on Google, according to new research by Searchmetrics, the leading global search experience optimisation platform. 38% will have used eBay. The findings demonstrate how the battle to be the number one in shopping search is intensifying.

The survey*, which polled 1,000 UK adults about their online shopping preferences, also reveals that 23% of people are turning to Facebook friends, company pages, ads and promotions for Christmas gift ideas. Nearly twice as many women (30%) will have used the social network to research gifts this holiday shopping season, than men (17%).

Pinterest, the virtual pin-board style social network, on which users post images and visual content, will have been used by 7% of shoppers to research potential gifts, the same number as Twitter.

“Our research demonstrates how shopping related search is evolving and especially the intense competition between traditional search engines such as Google and retail marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay,” said Marcus Tober, CTO and founder of Searchmetrics. “Google recognises the threat to its business from the likes of Amazon, which is why it changed its Google Shopping service to compete more directly with Amazon. Retailers now pay to have their product images, prices and descriptions show up in search results pages on Google. So shoppers receive instant, comparative product information from a variety of retailers on Google ‒ which competes directly with the information available from sellers you see on Amazon.”

Tober notes that the survey findings also highlight how social networks are increasingly playing a role in product purchasing decisions as part of the growth of social commerce. This refers to the way in which social media sites support social interaction and user contributions in order to drive the online buying and selling of products and services.

“One of the benefits of looking for product ideas on social networks is that you get to see feedback and preferences from other consumers, as well as participate in online discussions about products with a range of people, including your own friends and followers. And of course purchase recommendations from other shoppers – especially friends – can be very powerful,” said Tober, whose company’s Searchmetrics Suite software helps retailers and other businesses track and improve the visibility of their websites in search engines and social networks.

Where UK shoppers look online for christmas gift ideas

The survey also found that 32% of consumers find Christmas shopping less stressful by buying online. Over a quarter (28%) prefers to use the web to avoid in-store queues and crowds.

And while the rise of the online channel has meant many people start shopping earlier in the season, 6% will buy Christmas gifts online after Christmas to benefit from cheaper prices in the New Year sales according to the survey, with 2% likely to purchase presents on Christmas Day itself.

“For retailers the advice from the research is that they should use a variety of methods to promote their products at Christmas ‒ and also throughout the year. They should be trying to increase their visibility in Google searches, as well as building a strong presence on social networks such as Facebook. And even if they are not present on marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay, they need to be checking these sites to see what their competitors are doing,” said Tober.

One of the keys to achieving visibility in organic search and social media sites is creating valuable web content according to Tober. In a separate study, Searchmetrics reveals that content that ranks highly in searches tends to cover topics more comprehensively, includes more images and videos and is easy to read. These same factors also tend to help content appeal to web users, making it more sharable ‒ and hence more visible ‒ on social sites.

*Searchmetrics conducted a survey of 1000 UK adults via online survey company, Usurv in w/e 5 December, 2014.