Amazon turned 20 last year and Prime members all over the world gathered online for 24 hours and purchased 34.4 million items in celebration. Featuring sales akin to those found on Black Friday, Amazon enticed many people to subscribe to its Prime service for these exclusive deals.
Feedback from the event was mixed. Amazon’s Marketplace sellers came away pleased, with some achieving nearly 300% growth in sales for that day and some completely selling out of their inventory. Many consumers were pleased with their deals and steals, while others came away in frustration over limited inventory and long wait lists. #PrimeDayFail began popping up, with many tweets poking fun at the quirky sale items such as chef hats and packs of gum.
Outside of the Amazon scene, many other retailers attempted to combat Prime day with their own incentives and free shipping. Walmart had a large sale featuring special “rollbacks” and emphasizing the accessibility of its sales to everyone in contrast to Amazon’s required Prime membership. “We just don’t believe you should pay a fee to get a better price,” said Walmart spokesman. Other large retailers including Best Buy, Forever 21, Groupon, and Petco took the opportunity to hold sales as well, capitalizing on the discounts and urgency associated with “Black Friday.” Further, some retailers took a direct approach to combating Prime Day with email subject lines such as "WAY better than Prime Day" from CARBON38.
This year, a similar scene is shaping up for the "biggest global Amazon event ever." Three types of deals will be featured:
- Spotlight deals - the best deals of the day featuring deep discounts that last until the stock runs out
- Lightning deals - these sales will be featured for a limited amount of time, indicated by a timer, and have a status bar of how many items have been claimed
- Savings and sales - these will run all day and discounts will be applied at checkout
Amazon has been offering deals in the days leading up to Prime Day, which officially started at 3am ET this morning. With new deals appearing as frequently as every five minutes, Prime members will be able to track the deals on Amazon’s shopping app. The app is available on the App Store and on Google Play and shoppers can choose which deals they want to "watch" to get notified when it goes live. (You can watch the tutorial video here.) The app and its notifications are a prime example (get it?) of how mobile is increasingly becoming a crucial and undeniable part of a customer's shopping experience.
In response to last year, Amazon has deepened inventory and widened variety to more than 100,000 deals. One of the featured deals will be an attempt to encourage Prime members to buy and use the Echo device. By using the voice-command feature, Alexa, to order a Prime deal, the shopper will receive $10 off of the first purchase of $20 or more. Lastly, Amazon has specifically made a point to mention that a sale that does not appeal to one shopper may be perfect for another, so shoppers should still expect some unusual sales.
The competition is determined not to let Prime Day take over this year, with some retailers beginning sales over the weekend. Walmart is offering free shipping (no membership required) all week and has announced many “rollbacks” for this week in areas of high competition with Amazon, such as technology and electronics. They also won’t miss this chance to feature their “ShippingPass” program, a $49 annual pass for free unlimited two-day shipping to rival Prime. Many other retailers including Target, Gap, Banana Republic, The Limited, Bealls, J.C. Penney, Toys R Us, Sears, and Kohl’s are offering large discounts as well. Best Buy took an obvious swipe at Prime Day by announcing it is offering “Deals for All. No Membership Needed.”
Anticipation will continue to build as many people will sign up for free Prime trials to take advantage of the sales and members will set their alarm clocks for the long-awaited 3am unveiling. We will be live-tweeting throughout the day to keep you updated on the retail landscape as we keep our #EyesOnPrime!