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Consumers Might Not Love Everything About Amazon—But Free Shipping Is Hard to Resist

With all of the not-so-nice headlines about Amazon over the past year, consumers have mixed feelings about the e-commerce giant, but that doesn’t seem to stop them from shopping there.

About one in every four American consumers reported negative feelings regarding the online retailer’s effect on the industry in a new survey from Convey. However, many of those consumers continue to shop there regardless, with Amazon’s shipping policies playing a large role in keeping them as regular customers.

In total, the 2,000 consumers surveyed for the study reveal a distaste for the retailer that has yet to impact sales—especially considering Amazon recently reported 21 percent fourth-quarter sales totaling $87.4 billion.

Of note, 21 percent of the shoppers who harbor negative sentiments said they continued to buy at least half of all their goods through Amazon.

The negativity also extends to Amazon’s environmental footprint, with 27 percent of those surveyed responding negatively regarding its sustainability record. More than just disapproval, 24 percent said they believe Amazon is either “very” or “somewhat” damaging to the environment, a number that jumps to 35 percent among millennials.

Despite the concern, 80 percent of respondents agreed free shipping is still the prime reason for shopping at Amazon and 47 percent said they use Amazon for at least a quarter of their shopping. However, a full 25 percent of those surveyed said they would no longer use Amazon at all if shipping wasn’t free, even if that label really only applies to Prime-eligible shipping, a paid subscription program.

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Add in the 39 percent that said they were “unsure” if they would continue to use the service without free shipping and it appears that a majority of consumers would at least think about shopping elsewhere if rivals offered to eat the delivery fees.

“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, whose delivery experience management platform has helped Neiman Marcus and Eddie Bauer give customers better post-purchase engagement. “This groundbreaking study shows how a positive delivery experience translates into loyalty and sales—and can even overcome negative perceptions about a brand.”

Timing doesn’t appear to factor in quite as much as the “free” aspect of Amazon’s logistics policy, even after the tech titan began working one-day shipping into its model. Only 12 percent of those surveyed claimed a shipping window of one-to-two days is “essential” for their continued use of the platform. Another 55 percent said they would continue using Amazon in their current manner even if shipping regularly took three to four days, as long as it remained free.

There could be a limit to this sentiment, however. If deliveries took more than five days to arrive, only 34 percent would still use the service and that number drops precipitously (9 percent) when deliveries drag on past eight days.

Yet, free shipping wasn’t the only thing consumers in the survey liked about Amazon. More than two-thirds (69 percent) of consumers praised Amazon for its “broad selection of merchandise,” followed by pricing at 49 percent. Less than half (42 percent) said Amazon offers the “best online shopping experience.”