The Covid-19 pandemic has changed consumers’ views of online retail giant Amazon.com and continues to reshape the way people shop, according to data from Austin, Texas-based last-mile technology firm Convey, released this week.
Convey’s second annual survey of more than 1,000 U.S. consumers finds that shoppers are relying on Amazon more than ever, and that their sentiment has grown more positive during the pandemic. Drawn in by fast, free shipping, a majority of consumers (52%) now say they think Amazon has a positive effect on the retail industry and that their former concerns about the online giant’s environmental impact are dwindling. What’s more, the survey found that the online retailer is succeeding despite consumers’ overwhelming desire to support small businesses: Although 95% of survey respondents said it’s important to support small businesses that have been hurt by the pandemic, more than 40% of them admit to buying at least half of all their goods from Amazon.
“With Amazon providing a lifeline during a year of store shutdowns and safety precautions, more consumers have positive attitudes about the company than previously,” the researchers wrote, pointing to some survey highlights:
The survey also found that more than a third of consumers (36%) now say Amazon has a positive impact on the environment, a jump of 36%, according to the research. Just 20% say Amazon has been bad for the environment—a decrease of 25% over last year’s survey. Younger shoppers are more likely to be skeptical of Amazon’s impact, with 32% of younger shoppers saying that Amazon has a negative impact on the environment.
Respondents also listed reasons why they often choose Amazon over smaller suppliers:
The rapid acceleration of e-commerce and growing importance of environmental and social impacts among retailers also ranked high in a separate study from the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RIILA), also released this week. Conducted in partnership wth consulting firm McKinsey & Company, RILA’s Retail Speaks: Seven Imperatives for the Retail Industry examines the Covid-19 pandemic’s long-term impact on the future of retail.
“While the fundamentals are largely unchanged, customers’ expectations are now exponentially higher and retailers are rising to the challenge,” RILA President Brian Dodge said in a statement announcing the report’s findings. “Leading retailers are embracing the opportunity to win new customers by leveraging lessons learned from the past year and investing in strategies to serve customers well wherever and whenever they shop.”
Among those strategies is a sharper focus on developing a “seamless” omnichannel experience, setting ambitious targets for devliery times, and developing a “purpose-driven approach” to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria—factors many corporations are using to measure the sustainability and societal effects of their business. A third of RILA survey respondents said they had stopped using a brand based on its societal actions, for instance, and more than 70% said they would lose trust in a brand “forever” if it placed profits over people.
“Being a purpose-led brand always starts with the ‘why’ behind what we are doing. People will not only buy from but also buy into brands that stand up for their values,” according to Javier Quiñones, president and CSO, IKEA U.S, who is quoted in the research.
The RILA report was developed from a benchmarking survey conducted with executives from 30 U.S. companies, augmented by interviews with retail CEOs and research from McKinsey & Company, the groups said.