Amazon Prime Day 2017 – Are You Ready?

In between the fourth of July holiday weekend and the peak of Back to School shopping, Amazon has snuck in Prime Day again – the industry’s newest shopping holiday. This year, it’s on July 11th, but deals kick off at 9 pm July 10th (6 hours earlier than last year). Do you have a plan? We’ve reviewed last year’s main takeaways, Amazon’s new features for this year (voice search deals!), and have made some recommendations to ensure ecommerce businesses are ready for this year’s Prime Day.

Getting Started – A Look Back

Amazon Prime Day 2016 was on July 12th – how did your site perform? Were you part of the online shopping conversation? The industry (including PMX Agency’s clients) saw strong ecommerce results consistently in terms of traffic and sales growth year over year. This indicates that there is a halo effect now for the shopping day, so make sure you have a story to tell, or an email to share.

Highlights from Prime Day 2016 included:

  • Amazon’s technical challenges were reported – including “add to cart” and “check out” challenges at times. Those were reported on much less, however, than the 2015 Prime reports about the silly and/or unwanted products on sale that dominated the media.
  • Women’s Wear Daily reported that Prime Day 2016 saw an increase in orders of 60%. Other notable takeaways included:
    • More than 1 million people used the Amazon app for the first time on Prime Day, and orders from the app doubled year over year.
    • Popular offers in 2016 included: 30 percent off apparel, shoes jewelry and watches, and up to 60% off athletic shoes.
    • Prime offers went live at 3 am on July 12th (note offers start at 9 pm EST the night before Prime Day this year). By 11 am, Amazon had sold 196,000 pairs of shoes.
    • Apparel deals did not exhaust inventory. We know Amazon is focused on apparel now, how will that impact their offer strategy and execution this year?
  • One analyst pointed out that Amazon’s “frequently purchased together” suggestions/upsells were not part of the bargains, and that’s where Amazon could make up some margin loss – think they paid attention and shifted their strategy for this year?
  • The most popular item in the U.S. in 2016, excluding Amazon’s own devices, was the Instant Pot 7-in-1 Multi-Functional Pressure Cooker.

What’s New for Prime Day 2017?

The most innovative update to Prime Day relates to Amazon’s growing focus on voice search with Alexa. According to Amazon, “Prime members with an Alexa-enabled device such as an Amazon Echo or Echo Dot will have access to exclusive Alexa Prime Day voice shopping deals”. Prime members are instructed to simply ask Alexa on Prime Day “Alexa, what are your deals?” Amazon Alexa voice shoppers will also have preferential treatment, with a full two hours of access to  deals before the general public. In previous years, Prime Day has led to major Amazon adoption – with Prime memberships, app usage and Kindle adoption swelling. It will be interesting to see whether or not Amazon will gain a large portion of voice search-based shoppers, and how much Alexa resonates with Prime users.

Amazon also promises: a waitlist for deals you missed (if inventory opens up), Spotlight Deals with plenty of inventory, and Lightning Deals with time and inventory limitations.

What Can Retailers Do?

Ecommerce sites should be sure to have a strategy ready.  Start by ensuring that you join the conversation by having an offer ready to go, executed throughout marketing efforts: early morning (and follow up) email, paid search ad copy with the offer echoed on your landing pages, and customized remarketing ads.  Don’t forget to open up budgets that day to ensure you can capture the overall traffic boost online.  Whether to make your offer one day or let the delayed conversions roll in after Amazon Prime’s specials have disappeared via remarketing is obviously dependent on your overall ability to be promotional, but it’s worth testing for 24 – 48 hours after Prime Day ends.

Finally, what can you do that Amazon can’t?  Is free overnight shipping an option? If you have stores, can shoppers buy online and pick up in store same day, beating Amazon’s quick shipping to help consumers have their purchase the same day?

This is a rare opportunity to take advantage of Amazon’s efforts, by creating a shopping holiday in July – make sure you’re ready!

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