From Forbes on May 23, 2016:

Amazon. Without a doubt, whether spoken of directly, implied, or outright avoided, one of the top buzzwords at the recent Shoptalk retail conference was the name of Jeff Bezos’ online powerhouse, which shoppers have been increasingly gravitating toward over traditional retailers. Though some speakers, such as Hudson’s Bay Company CEO Jerry Storch, were dismissive of Amazon.com, others were willing to recognize it as a threat, with most leveling the following arguments against the retailer: 1.) consumers lose human interaction shopping with Amazon; and 2.) Amazon doesn’t provide shoppers with an “experience.”

Through Prosper’s syndicated consumer survey, we collect insights from nearly 2,000 Amazon shoppers each month, and from our vantage, it appears that shoppers would disagree with these pundits on both fronts. Indeed, Amazon doesn’t have associates to personally greet shoppers when they click over to their website – but shoppers are met with personalized product recommendations and have access to live customer service representatives. Nor does Amazon provide its shoppers with that certain ambiance that’s typical, but varying, when shopping brick and mortar – but in the digital age of retailing, do shoppers really care so much about that anymore? Or, does the real “experience” come with the knowledge that, for example, parents can simultaneously make trusted purchases from their mobile devices while spending a Saturday at the soccer fields with their children? With shoppers becoming increasingly comfortable buying everything from common household supplies to apparel to big ticket electronics over the Internet, it seems that the very definition of the shopping “experience” is evolving along with changing consumer lifestyles – and Amazon is leading the charge.

Case in point: Prosper’s recent Customer Service Champions, where five of the top ten retailers recognized for service excellence – by consumers – were non-store retailers. While L.L.Bean, the direct-to-consumer pioneer, was shoppers’ top pick, Amazon.com was a firm runner-up for the second year in the row. And among Gen X-ers and those coveted Millennials, Amazon’s service clout rose higher. While we divulged a few of the reasons why customers chose Amazon as their top service provider when we first announced this year’s Champions, let’s now take a closer look at how shoppers, in their own words, view human interaction and the Amazon experience specifically.

Through Prosper’s syndicated consumer survey, we collect insights from nearly 2,000 Amazon shoppers each month, and from our vantage, it appears that shoppers would disagree with these pundits on both fronts. Indeed, Amazon doesn’t have associates to personally greet shoppers when they click over to their website – but shoppers are met with personalized product recommendations and have access to live customer service representatives. Nor does Amazon provide its shoppers with that certain ambiance that’s typical, but varying, when shopping brick and mortar – but in the digital age of retailing, do shoppers really care so much about that anymore? Or, does the real “experience” come with the knowledge that, for example, parents can simultaneously make trusted purchases from their mobile devices while spending a Saturday at the soccer fields with their children? With shoppers becoming increasingly comfortable buying everything from common household supplies to apparel to big ticket electronics over the Internet, it seems that the very definition of the shopping “experience” is evolving along with changing consumer lifestyles – and Amazon is leading the charge.

Case in point: Prosper’s recent Customer Service Champions, where five of the top ten retailers recognized for service excellence – by consumers – were non-store retailers. While L.L.Bean, the direct-to-consumer pioneer, was shoppers’ top pick, Amazon.com was a firm runner-up for the second year in the row. And among Gen X-ers and those coveted Millennials, Amazon’s service clout rose higher. While we divulged a few of the reasons why customers chose Amazon as their top service provider when we first announced this year’s Champions, let’s now take a closer look at how shoppers, in their own words, view human interaction and the Amazon experience specifically.

On Human Interaction: Amazon shoppers can interact with customer service at their convenience and via preferred communication style (we have entered the texting age, after all). Even better, shoppers say, is that Amazon employees are empowered to take common sense approaches to solve problems and delight customers.

Amazon shoppers voice their opinions on human interaction.

On the Amazon Experience: Amazon may provide customers with a different shopping experience compared to brick and mortar, but it is an experience nevertheless which generates loyalty and repeat visits from shoppers. Clearly, Amazon has redefined the modern-day definition of a retail experience with shoppers citing transparency in pricing and product information, access to customer reviews they can trust, clear communication regarding orders/shipping status, as well as occasions that evoke a Nordstrom-esque level of amazing service (see the Kindle reference below).

Amazon shoppers on the Amazon.com experience.

For retailers who continue to be in denial about the relationships and loyalty that Amazon.com has built with shoppers: good luck with that.

Pam Goodfellow is Principal Analyst/Consumer Insights Director for Prosper Insights & Analytics and editor of the monthly Consumer Snapshot