- Sears won only 0.7% of search clicks from shoppers over the past year, according to an Adthena analysis of trends that could have contributed to the retailer's recent bankruptcy filing. By comparison, Amazon and Walmart, the two largest players in U.S. retail search, grabbed 44.67% of the entire market click share.
- Amazon and Overstock were Sears' main competitors in online search, which Adthena measured in terms of search term coverage and frequency of ad appearances. On Sears' search terms, Amazon had a 169% impression share, and Overstock and Zappos had more than 60% visibility on the search terms.
- From June to October 2018, Sears accounted for only 1.27% of U.S. retail ad spend on Google Shopping Ads. By comparison, Walmart drove 8.19% spend, and Wayfair drove 7.51%.
The Adthena analysis reveals how Sears' failures in paid search caused it to hand over significant ground to Amazon and Walmart. Given the importance of online search in the consumer's path to purchase, the retailer's struggles in search can be seen as adding fuel to the fire that resulted in its decision to file bankruptcy. The 132-year-old retailer has seen declining profits over the years, as well as mismanagement and decisions to cut costs rather than invest in its digital business caused it to be overlooked by consumers, according to CNN. Sears is planning to close 142 stores in bankruptcy and is in talks to sell its remaining stores.
With some consumers preferring to shop online versus in-store, Amazon and Walmart have been locked in a fierce competition, and both platforms have been beefing up their offerings to attract consumers. With the companies accounting for nearly half of the market and other retailers vying for the other half, Sears had been unable to garner digital clicks from shoppers. Without a presence on Google Shopping ads, the retailer lacked the opportunity to grab any significant click share. Google Shopping ads drive 85.3% of clicks in U.S. retail, according to the Adthena report.
Having a small share of shopper clicks made Sears vulnerable to market volatility. As an example in the Adthena report, competitors in the home furniture category are impacted by spikes from retailers like Wayfair and Overstock, and Sears dropped out of search results in the past few weeks with overall market click share in home furniture at less than 2%.
Sears' struggles in search have been previously documented. During the back-to-school shopping season, longstanding retailer sites like Sears.com and JCPenney.com were dominated by newer retailers like Romwe.com, Shein.com and Zulily.com on the search term "back to school clothes," a separate Adthena analysis found. Sears entered the campaign late, reached 70% on Aug. 9 and then dropped off significantly. Sears has also reduced its advertising spend over the past few years while focusing — perhaps too late — on digital. Last year during the holiday shopping season, Sears chose not to run any TV ads in December.