the big platforms are attacking Amazon

Google, TikTok or even Pinterest are multiplying ads around retail. Everyone has their own strategy, successes… and failures.

Is 2022 the wake-up call for major e-commerce platforms? Web players have new ambitions there and are making it known with new features and offensives against the sector giant, Amazon. Among them, Google, which has been trying for years to crack the e-commerce code. The search engine has made several announcements on retail and at its developer conference in May, Prabhakar Raghavan, senior vice president at Google, presented new features via Google Lens which are being tested in the United States in beta version .

With multisearch and near me, the objective is simple: to offer consumers a seamless shopping experience without going through the search bar again. All the user has to do is click on the Lens button, take a photo of a product or pick one from their library and then add a request in writing. This can be to add a dress and search for one of the same style in another color, to retrieve tips for caring for a plant and directly buy the necessary product or to add a cooked dish and search a restaurant in the neighborhood that offers it. Google has also introduced new features allowing consumers to go from the list of merchants on Google to the purchase page in one click. These options aim to increase the number of direct buyers on Google and behind them, more sellers invest in advertising on the platform.

With multisearch and near me, the user can easily find a product he has photographed in the radius around him. ©Google

These new features bear witness to the global vision proposed by Prabhakar Raghavan, who has overseen search, maps, advertising and commerce at Google since mid-2020. Whereas in the past, Google has tried to imitate Amazon with little success, he intends to position himself as an anti-Amazon, a free platform for merchants designed to facilitate the passage to the act of purchase of consumers as reported by Bloomberg. If Google’s bet on e-commerce pays off, the search engine could give brands a way to thrive outside of Amazon and the e-commerce giant could then be forced to offer discounts on logistics or advertising.

The task of the senior vice-president is not easy because “Google is terribly allergic to strategic vision”, points to the American media Sam Ramji, a former manager who worked with Prabhakar Raghavan. For Martha Welsh, director of business strategy at Google, “he is the man who brought strategy to Google, he has a global vision of the business”. Since his promotion in 2020, he has scrapped the fees Google levied on online purchases and cut the delivery service, tried to poach merchants angry with Amazon, overhauled his management and Google’s payment operations. This is not the first failure of the Alphabet subsidiary, the company launched a delivery service called Shopping Express in 2013 which has never been successful.

TikTok downsizes

Google is not the only one to take a step forward and others like TikTok want their share of the e-commerce market. While the Chinese social network had announced to deploy its TikTok Shops in the United States and Europe, their development will focus only for the moment on the United Kingdom and Southeast Asia. On these shops, brands can sell products directly on TikTok thanks to clickable links integrated into their videos and live but also in a dedicated shop tab. Across the Channel, the service seems to be struggling (300,000 dollars in sales per day according to Tech in Asia) because there is not yet a market and consumers know little about the service whose adoption rates are low or nascent. The lack of recognized big sellers, with the exception of Xiaomi, does not facilitate the task of TikTok and European sellers are not yet investing due to the youth of the audience present on the social network. But the platform can count on its experience in China, where it sold 10 billion products last year. TikTok can always come back with its services when the market has become more mature in Europe and the United States.

Pinterest and Meta too

Pinterest is also part of it and presents itself as a visual search engine where purchases are facilitated. The platform announced at the beginning of July 2022 new tools to facilitate the conversion. A shopping tab is available on merchant profiles who can display products with customizable images and descriptions. New product labeling also allows merchants to add products from their catalog to their ambient visuals, the user will be able to make the purchase directly from the visual that corresponds to the search he has made. If Pinterest has 400 million monthly users worldwide, its audience is no longer growing, or even shrinking, and the platform must now find growth and revenue drivers that the platform sees in e-commerce.

For its part, Meta announced a new feature on Instagram so that consumers can buy from small sellers directly by DM (direct message). The seller will offer the buyer to make the payment directly in his DM via a dedicated insert. Order tracking is done in the same place, as is after-sales service. This functionality will not be available for the moment until soon in the United States. The announcement comes as Instagram Checkout has been capped in beta for more than three years and is only available in the United States.

The user can proceed to the payment directly in his DM on Instagram. © Meta

For its part, Amazon remains firmly clinging to its place as the leader in the sector. In addition to its marketplace, the e-commerce giant has solid and diversified activities, such as advertising, which again recorded growth of 23% in the first quarter of 2022.

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