Amazon’s fast, free shipping trumps poor environmental impressions

by Inside Logistics Online Staff

AUSTIN, Texas –Although many consumers feel Amazon is harming the environment, this does not translate into lost sales for the e-commerce giant.

The survey of 2,000 U.S. shoppers revealed that the key to Amazon’s success is its industry-disrupting shipping offering. Yet, the study shows that a significant portion of its customers would consider buying elsewhere.

Negative sentiments don’t curtail shopping

One in four Americans (24 percent) have negative feelings about Amazon’s impact on the retail industry as a whole. This disapproval only grows when it comes to Amazon’s ecological footprint, with 27 percent of respondents saying they feel very or somewhat negative about Amazon’s impact on the environment.

However, these sentiments don’t necessarily impact shopping behavior. A full 21 percent of shoppers who were negative about Amazon’s impact on retail still reported buying at least 50 percent of all their goods on Amazon.

Negative sentiment on environmental impact didn’t seem to sway shoppers either; 24 percent of shoppers who believe Amazon is very or somewhat damaging to the environment still buy at least 50 percent of all their goods on Amazon.

The survey also revealed that younger Americans feel more strongly about Amazon’s ecological footprint than older generations. More than one in three (35 percent) Millennials said Amazon has a very or somewhat negative impact on the environment – 30 percent higher than respondents overall.

Shipping drives Amazon loyalty

Despite these concerns, fully 47 percent of respondents do at least a quarter of their shopping on Amazon, and 23 percent buy more than half of all their goods on the site. Fast and free shipping is far and away the top reason people shop at Amazon, selected by 80 percent of respondents, followed second by the broad selection of merchandise (69 percent).

Nearly half of respondents (49 percent) said Amazon offers the best pricing, and 42 percent named ‘best online shopping experience’ as the reason why they choose Amazon.

More specifically, the ‘free’ price tag is the linchpin to Amazon’s success. A full one in four respondents (25 percent) said they would not use Amazon at all if they had to pay for shipping, and 39 percent said they were unsure – meaning that 64 percent of shoppers would consider buying elsewhere if free shipping were not offered.

By contrast, consumers said they’re slightly more flexible when it comes to delivery speed. While 12 percent said arrival within one to two days is essential for them to continue using Amazon, 55 percent said they would still use the site if deliveries arrived in three to four days, as long as shipping was free. However, this tolerance declines sharply if packages take more than five days to arrive (34 percent), with just nine percent saying they would wait more than eight days for their free Amazon deliveries.

Porch pirates remain a concern

When it comes to delivery concerns, package theft remains the biggest worry for American shoppers (30 percent). The second biggest concern was ‘I may have to return my item’ (14 percent).

In what should be good news for Amazon, the lowest concern was “poor packaging of items’ (three percent) – and 29 percent said they aren’t concerned with Amazon deliveries at all.

“Retailers know that the delivery experience is a critical piece of the e-commerce puzzle, and this survey proves just how important it really is,” said Kirsten Newbold-Knipp, chief growth officer at Convey, which commissioned the study.

“This groundbreaking study shows how a positive delivery experience translates into loyalty and sales – and can even overcome negative perceptions about a brand. In 2020, retailers need to pay careful attention to delivery, not just speed and cost, but also keeping their shipping promises and proactively communicating along the way.”