88% of consumers started their shopping trip at Amazon for their last Amazon purchase, rather than at a search engine like Google or a competing retailer’s site, according to market research firm Consumer Intelligence Research Partners. That percentage has been trending up steadily for several years and was little affected by the pandemic.

Retailers generally would not be excited by a growth chart showing only a modest increase over several years. But when the chart shows a consistently high level of customer loyalty, the retailer has to be pleased.

That’s the happy prospect for Amazon.com Inc., based on survey data that shows most shoppers who buy on Amazon never look elsewhere. Since 2014, market research firm Consumer Intelligence Research Partners LLC has been asking Amazon shoppers whether they perused a search engine or a competing retailer’s site or store before they made their last Amazon purchase, and the data shows that for years most have been exclusively looking at Amazon.

It’s like Amazon almost anticipated the moment and began preparing for it long ago.
Michael R. Levin, co-founder and partner
Consumer Intelligence Research Partners

In the most recent survey, conducted in the third quarter of this year, 88% of Amazon shoppers said they only considered Amazon for their most recent Amazon purchase. That percentage has risen steadily from 82% in the third quarter of 2014, CIRP says.

How much did the pandemic impact this loyalty? “Not much,” says Michael R. Levin, CIRP co-founder and partner, “because those ties were already really deep. It’s like Amazon almost anticipated the moment and began preparing for it long ago.”

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Long-time members of the Amazon Prime loyalty program are even less likely to consider competing retailers. In the most recent survey, 91% of consumers who have belonged to Prime for at least two years said they only considered Amazon for their last purchase, versus 85% of other shoppers, CIRP says.

CIRP estimated there were 153 million Prime members in the U.S. as of the end of the second quarter of 2021, up from 124 million a year earlier. Amazon has reported there are more than 200 million Prime members worldwide, but the retailer has not said how many are in the U.S.

Walmart makes modest headway

Most Amazon customers do shop at other major retailers at times, CIRP says. In the most recent survey, about 90% said they had shopped at Walmart Inc. and Target Corp. in the previous 12 months, and more than 80% said they had shopped at online marketplace eBay Inc.

Asked where else they would have shopped if they had not made their most recent purchase at Amazon, 22% said Walmart, the most popular choice. Target, eBay and Best Buy Co. Inc. followed. About a third of Amazon buyers said they would not have made the purchase if the product had not been available from Amazon.

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The survey also found that nearly nine in 10 Amazon purchasers did not shop at a physical store before making their most recent purchase at Amazon. That suggests “showrooming”—viewing products at a brick-and-mortar store before purchasing at an online retailer like Amazon—is less of a factor today than it once was as consumers have become more comfortable buying on websites.

In the 2013-14 period, when CIRP first started surveying U.S. shoppers, about 80% of consumers typically said they had not shopped in a physical store before buying on Amazon, Levin says. He says the percentage has steadily risen since then and that the upward trend had taken hold before the pandemic hit.

CIRP has noted some shifts in where consumers would have shopped if not on Amazon, Levin says.

“Walmart has improved slightly as the alternative for the most recent purchase, while Target, eBay and Best Buy have all declined somewhat,” he says. “Similar to the other items, most of this trend occurred before the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Amazon is No. 1 in the 2021 Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000, a ranking of North America’s leading retailers by online sales, and No. 3 in the 2021 Digital Commerce 360 Online Marketplaces ranking of the leading multi-merchant shopping sites by worldwide sales. Walmart is No. 2 in the Top 1000, Best Buy, No. 5, and Target, No. 6. EBay is No. 5 in the online marketplaces ranking.

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This article was updated on Nov. 3, 2021. The archived article can be found here.