Consumers are more likely to search on a retailer's website when shopping for back-to-school products than they are with general merchandise, where Amazon dominates search.

No single retailer owns the back-to-school online shopping market.

Retailers not named Amazon.com Inc. have a good shot at grabbing a piece of back-to-school online sales, according to an exclusive Internet Retailer and Bizrate Insights survey of 1,090 U.S. consumers conducted in July.

Among those 1,090 consumers, 292, or 26.8%, say they plan to buy back-to-school items this year. Of this group, 37.0% say they will begin their online search for back-to-school items on Amazon.com, 32.2% say they’ll start on Google.com and 24.6% say they’ll go to a specific retailer’s website. The remaining respondents answered “other.”

Although not an even split and Amazon leads the search category, this is a more equitable breakdown than findings from other surveys. An Internet Retailer survey of 515 U.S. adult online shoppers in December 2016 finds that 52.5% of shoppers start their online product search on Amazon, 38.8% go to Google and a paltry 3.9% start on a specific retailers’ website. The remaining respondents started their shopping quest in other places.

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An influx of shoppers starting on a retailer’s website, as indicated in the July survey results, gives web merchants a chance to feature their strengths, such as superior customer service or unique products, says Scott Macon, president of Bizrate Insights.

“Retailers have the opportunity to capitalize on shoppers who may already know what they need and are loyal to your brand,” Macon says. “This is a prime opportunity to showcase how your brand, products and services are different from Amazon and hopefully gain the sale now for back-to-school and in the future.”

Plus, even if shoppers don’t start their online back-to-school shopping spree on a specific retailer’s site, consumers still may visit during this shopping season. Here is where back-to school shoppers say they are most likely to shop online for their back-to-school items:

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A recent study from mobile platform provider Branding Brand finds that 64% of shoppers plan to buy back-to-school products from Target Corp. (No. 20 in the Internet Retailer 2017 Top 500), a 51% increase from the 2016 study; 64% plan to buy from Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (No. 3) this year, up from 42% last year, and 50% will buy from Amazon (No. 1), a decrease from the 74% who said they would buy from the web giant last year. Branding Brand surveyed 1,000 U.S. shoppers ages 18-24 between June 21-23.

Of consumers shopping for back-to-school products this year:

  • 12% say they will likely buy more than 75% of their back-to-school goods online
  • 14.7% plan to make 51-75% of back-to-school purchases online
  • 21.9% say 26-50%
  • 21.9% say 11-25%
  • 15.8% say less than 10%
  • 13.7% say none
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