What’s driving shoppers to Amazon?

Photo: @MariaShipakina via Twenty20
Nov 19, 2021

MarketingCharts staff

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of articles from MarketingCharts, which provides up-to-the-minute data and research to marketers.

Two-thirds of U.S. consumers say that one of the top five reasons they shop with Amazon.com is because they can find almost anything they need, according to a survey from Digital Commerce 360.

The number two reason was “I’m a Prime member and receive free shipping on most items,” which was chosen by 56 percent of respondents. Fifty-one percent cited free shipping through Prime in a similar June 2020 survey, when it was the top choice. The “I can find almost everything I need” option was not included in last year’s survey.

The survey of 1,000 adults taken in August found other top reasons consumers shop with Amazon were to quickly locate and purchase products (51 percent selecting it within their top five) and find competitive prices (47 percent).

Other reasons included Amazon’s ability to deliver on time (33 percent cited it in top five), familiarity with the user experience on the site (25 percent), its vast number of customer reviews (24 percent) and the ability to quickly reorder products (24 percent).

Other highlights from the report:

  • The reasons consumers avoid buying from Amazon include that they prefer to try on or touch products (33 percent), they would rather support local retailers (29 percent) and that they don’t want Amazon to monopolize online shopping (24 percent).
  • Apparel, accessories and shoes (50 percent), home (furnishings, decor, gardening, etc. – 50 percent) and health and beauty (43 percent) are Amazon’s most popular categories.
  • Two-thirds (67 percent) have read a customer review on Amazon, with more than one-third (36 percent) saying they have left a review.
  • Even though one-quarter have used a voice assistant to make purchases, only three percent of Amazon shoppers say they have made a purchase with an Alexa device.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you think the reasons behind Amazon.com’s appeal have changed in recent years? Do the survey’s findings offer any insights into how Amazon and its competitors might further improve their shopping experiences?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
"To improve the shopping experience, all retailers need a solid mix of stores and e-commerce, quality products and easier returns."
"Amazon has set the bar pretty high; a couple of clicks and the item arrives the next day."
"While Google may be a de facto leader for all types of searches, Amazon has carved out a niche at product search and they are undoubtedly number one in that niche."

Join the Discussion!

26 Comments on "What’s driving shoppers to Amazon?"

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Dr. Stephen Needel

The ’60s radical in me wants to not love Amazon, but gee – all of the top four resonate. I’m not sure if these have changed, but they certainly have helped it become as big and as popular as it is. If they can fix the shipping time problem (a recent issue for me), I’ll really be happy.

Bob Amster

You are a funny man, Stephen!

Richard Hernandez

Convenience drives shoppers to Amazon, period. It’s simple to use and you get your product very quickly. With the holes you are seeing in major retailers, people don’t want to waste the time going to stores only to find out they don’t have what they are looking for.

David Spear

Well said — I agree wholeheartedly, Richard.

Liza Amlani

There is something to be said about consistency and Amazon has that down. It’s much easier for a customer to click on the Amazon app and search for what they need. Even if we shop on other sites, the default tends to be Amazon.

The challenge comes down to changing customer behaviors to switch from using Amazon as their default.

David Naumann

Good point about the challenge of changing consumer behaviors away from using Amazon as their default. According to a report from Jungle Scout, 74 percent of U.S. consumers begin their product searches on the Amazon.com site. This is a significant challenge for retailers, as once consumers find what they are looking for on Amazon.com it is pretty easy to just click to purchase.

Suresh Chaganti

As a Prime member for nearly 20 years, all of the reasons resonate. In the end they are summarized into two things – One is familiarity/habit. Second is never being let down on returns, price, shipping, delivery, or making things right when marketplace sellers don’t deliver.

Even when I occasionally have shopped around, I look at Amazon for reviews and, more often than not, eventually order from Amazon.

For high ticket items, Costco is my first choice with an unbeatable price/quality ratio.

Common things for both Amazon and Costco are the subscription model, the stickiness it results in, and the customer first attitude both retailers exhibit in every transaction.

Rick Watson

Is this really a poll ? 😉

Amazon is one of the best supply chain companies. That’s why people buy from them. Trust is a worry but they “do enough” to prevent people from leaving.

Personally, I think Target has matched them, and is more profitable to boot. Amazon will need more retail to remain relevant in the future.

Gary Sankary

Love them or hate them, the value proposition they’ve created is so strong that many consumers, myself included, are willing to look past nagging questions about the company and its founder. They almost always have what I’m looking for, the merchandise arrives when they say it will, the prices are very competitive and checkout is almost seamless. To sum it up, it’s so easy shop Amazon that it has become the default provider for me for any item that’s not on my weekly Target list.

Dave Bruno

As much as I hate admitting it, Amazon is my Google for shopping. I don’t always buy from Amazon, but unless it’s a brand exclusive, I almost always start my research with Amazon. The interface, while archaic, is simple, efficient and familiar, and I can quickly ascertain – at minimum – a baseline for comparison. I suspect I am by no means alone in this habit, which gives Amazon a huge advantage. Having said all that, however, Amazon is definitely suffering from choice overload, and their ability to control the quality of the products in their assortments is non-existent. As a result, and in one of modern retail’s great ironies, I only ever buy trusted brands from Amazon. Go figure.

Venky Ramesh

You are not alone, Dave :-). As per Statista, 38 percent of people, when searching for products, start their search at Amazon (search engines like google stand at 40 percent). While Google may be a de facto leader for all types of searches, Amazon has carved out a niche at product search and they are undoubtedly number one in that niche. As for choice overload, I am not sure what stops them from understanding their consumers better to provide them a curation option in a separate tab (e.g. all options on one tab and curated ones on another).

Doug Garnett

There’s a problem with the survey – it gives consumers a list of reasons. In other words, rather than dig to find out real reasons, it allows people to check mark what they’ve seen most often in the press. Surveys like this have already made choices for consumers – they won’t ever find anything surprising.

What we really need to know are more real motivations. Where is Amazon on their list of options? Is Prime that valuable in real life or just an easy checkbox? How do they trade off between buying at Amazon and buying in a store? Which goods do they do this for? Etc…

Bob Amster

To me, a self-admitted “shop-in-person” partisan, the answer is convenience. Even if Amazon’s prices were not competitive by a slight margin, Amazon has created this iconic aura that this is where you shop when you are lazy, when you don’t have time to go out, when the item is a staple anyway, when you want to save on gasoline, etc. Not unlike people said “the IBM” to refer to a computer 40 years ago, or “make a Xerox copy” (instead of a photocopy), or “run the Hoover” (vacuum the floor), or now say “just Google it.” When you want to buy something you already know and quickly: Amazon!

David Spear

Utility, value and convenience are incredibly powerful as it relates to a shopper’s mindset, and Amazon consistently delivers on all three. The top six or seven responses confirm this statement. Add continuous innovation to the mix and you have an awfully potent formula for success.

DeAnn Campbell

Amazon has done a great job at removing friction points for shoppers and keeping prices low to maintain the high sales volumes they need just to break even, but this has come at a high cost. As a standalone division of the company, profit margins for Amazon’s retail side of the business are minimal, with their web services division earning the bulk of their total profits. And let’s remember that last year, for all the hype and press about the massive growth of e-commerce, online sales were still less than 20 percent of total retail sales. Brick-and-mortar is still the consumer’s preference, and a critical tool for improving e-commerce profit margins, which is a key driver for Amazon’s continuous push into physical retail.

Lisa Goller

Yes. Amazon sets industry standards for care, variety, deals and speed, raising our expectations of other retailers. Catering to us like royalty has spoiled us, making Amazon competitive. It’s hard for us to leave if we’re busy swooning.

Also, Amazon’s reliability earns trust and loyalty. After a rough March and April 2020, Amazon found ways to minimize out-of-stocks. This month, an out-of-stock toy I ordered arrived within days, guaranteeing Christmas joy.

To improve the shopping experience, all retailers need a solid mix of stores and e-commerce, quality products and easier returns.

Dion Kenney
2 months 4 days ago

The industry owes a debt of gratitude to Jeff Bezos, not for outcompeting them and creating an industry titan, but for demonstrating that the internet enables new business models and new opportunities to create value and improve the customer experience.

Has the basis for their appeal changed? Of course, they continue to find new ways to innovate and leverage technology, marketing, finance, supply chain, etc. And every other retailer should not only be taking notes, they should be finding creative ways to respond.

Georganne Bender

Amazon has set the bar pretty high; a couple of clicks and the item arrives the next day. Just like grocers have trained shoppers to grab a cart before hitting the sales floor, consistency in selection, quality and quick delivery has trained consumers to try Amazon first.

Natalie Walkley

Amazon has become a habit for shoppers. We simply look there first. And while there is always resistance to the 800-pound gorilla — Amazon continues to be the most convenient, consistent, and comprehensive shopping experience for many. And while brands shouldn’t ignore Amazon, they should find ways to incentivize shoppers to buy directly from them.

Ryan Mathews

I think the survey missed the obvious – for many people shopping with Amazon has become a seamless part of their lifestyles. Amazon is on their desk, in their cars, on their screens all of the time. That’s what’s really changed over the past few years. Amazon has drastically improved its points of contact and engagement.

Gene Detroyer

As people discover the convenience of online shopping they eventually discover the convenience of Amazon.

The retail mantra is location, location, location. Amazon has a more convenient location than any other retailer. And at that location, they give the consumer enough choices that they don’t have to go to multiple websites (or stores for that matter).

Will others catch up? Not in the near future. Making shopping habits is hard. Breaking shopping habits is harder.

Cathy Hotka

This should be a warning to other retailers. Until the industry comes together to improve product search, customers will continue to turn to Amazon, whether they want to or not. We need color codes, predictable sizing, and other tools to improve the customer experience.

Richard J. George, Ph.D.

While one may question the survey methodology, the overarching benefit provided by Amazon, in a word, is customer convenience. For the most part, Amazon does not make customers compromise, namely, do something they would rather not do. The key to all retailing online or bricks & mortar is to identify and solve compromises. Amazon does this better than anyone else.

John Karolefski

It is hard to beat Amazon with its ultra wide selection, great prices and fast delivery. Merchants can’t duplicate that formula. But outstanding in-store customer service is the one advantage they have. Shoppers still like people-to-people interaction.

Harley Feldman

The reasons mentioned by consumers in the poll are right on. It is easy to go to Amazon’s website, and I have yet not to find an item I was looking for. Amazon’s site is also used to research pricing levels and the reviews are very helpful in understanding how purchasers feel about the item, both positive and negative. Amazon’s competitors need to expand their product offerings by either partnering with the companies or offering unique items on their site.

2 months 6 hours ago

Consumers will change if there are comparable options — not apparent today. Others are a distant second when it comes to the top 4 reasons to shop Amazon. I’m still waiting for this to get better. Many reasons for this — we’d be here all day!

"To improve the shopping experience, all retailers need a solid mix of stores and e-commerce, quality products and easier returns."
"Amazon has set the bar pretty high; a couple of clicks and the item arrives the next day."
"While Google may be a de facto leader for all types of searches, Amazon has carved out a niche at product search and they are undoubtedly number one in that niche."

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