Retail Landscape: Where do consumers begin their shopping journey

Retail Landscape: Where do consumers begin their shopping journey

Welcome to the world of e-commerce, where shopping is just a click away. In this digital marketplace, consumers move towards various online platforms with giants like Amazon and Walmart often taking the lead. In this blog, explore what portion of retail sales is online and understand where consumers start their online shopping searches.

What portion of retail sales are online versus in-store?

Although in-person shopping still has its benefits, such as the social aspect or being able to physically examine products, the percentage of total sales online compared to in-person has increased every year. E-commerce sales hit an all-time high during the pandemic,  increasing from 13.8 percent to 17.8 percent, from 2019 to 2020 (source: Statista). This initial 4% increase was the initial spur for e-commerce sales to continue expanding. This sales rate is predicted to reach nearly 24% by 2026, making almost a quarter of retail sales coming from online purchases.

Where do consumers start their search when online shopping?

Search Engine and E-commerce Giants

Search engines are the usual starting point for consumers looking to research products. Optimizing online content for SEO has become increasingly important for e-commerce businesses to gain traction on their website and determine where they rank on the search page. Other factors including online reviews and ratings also play a key role in influencing purchase decisions.

On the other hand, big e-commerce corporations including Amazon and Walmart are other common places users begin their search. In 2022, Amazon, Walmart, and search engines dominated where consumers looked to when conducting their product searches, with Amazon alone being 61%. This was followed by search engines at 49% and Walmart at 32%. Although these three were the leading and most relevant areas for product search last year, there’s been a rampant shift in 2023.

Social Media

In 2023, social media platforms including Facebook, YouTube, and TikTok have transformed into powerful tools for product discovery. Many of these platforms, such as Instagram and Pinterest, have introduced shoppable posts, allowing users to buy products directly from their feeds. This integration of shopping and social interaction has created a new dynamic in consumer behaviour.

From 2022 to 2023, there has been an increase in the use of social platforms to begin consumer product search with Instagram increasing from 15% to 18%, TikTok from 11% to 17%, and so on. The use of social media to conduct product discovery and search only seems to continue growing alongside the platforms.


  • Acknowledge the shift toward e-commerce businesses and online shopping in order to embrace it in a post-pandemic world (24% by 2026)
  • Keep an eye on social media platforms playing a larger role in consumer product discovery and research.

Discover social media and search trends to improve your product discovery:

Subscribe to Granularity Blog

Don’t miss out on the latest issues. Sign up now to get access to the library of members-only issues.
[email protected]