Getting Primed for Amazon’s Summertime Shopping Event

Amazon Prime Day is coming.

In its fourth year, the annual shopping event is speculated to occur either the second or third week of July. Rumors spurred by, what looked to be a leak on Amazon’s UK website, would point to the kickoff being July 16, with a full day of sales on July 17, and nearly 36 hours of promotions when all is said and done. This would make Prime Day one week later than its historical date on the second Tuesday of the month. Exact date aside, our clients have been primed (pun intended) and ready with their own promotional strategies ahead of Amazon’s event, especially as it relates to the right products, right customer experience and the right budget and plan geared up for paid media, to ensure they’re capturing customers, and even winning some over from Amazon.

Before the massive success of Cyber Monday 2017, Amazon shared that Prime Day was its biggest sale day, ever, with revenue growing 60% over the same promotional period in 2016. As we look back on Prime Day 2017, there are some great insights to guide our strategic thinking for this year’s shopping event. More than anything, what we’ve learned through previous years, is that retailers must be a part of the conversation, and have their own stories to tell during Amazon’s big event.

Where is Amazon Today?

First, how has Amazon evolved over the 365 days since its last Prime Day? Some quick stats…

For one, it’s now the nation’s fourth largest advertiser, and building its advertising chops is clearly a critical priority for the retail giant. The power of its Prime membership is undeniable, with over 100 million confirmed Prime members in 2018, and we expect that number will grow tremendously on Prime Day, as it ushers in more members through special signup deals. We’ve seen Amazon engage in strategic partnership opportunities, like the more recent integration with Best Buy. And it has upped its roster of private label brands to nearly 6,825 across key product areas across apparel, footwear, electronics and consumer products.

Top Product Searches & Popular Category Deals in 2017

We dug into some Hitwise data through the week ending in 7/15/2017, and top product searches for Amazon Prime Day 2017 showed as:

  1. Nintendo Switch
  2. Amazon Echo
  3. Instant Pot
  4. Kindle
  5. Amazon Fire TV Stick
  6. Eclipse Glasses
  7. Amazon Echo Dot
  8. Oculus Rift
  9. Amazon Fire TV
  10. Game of Thrones

It’s not surprising that both the Echo and Echo Dot ranked in the top ten for product searches, given the, still, rapidly increasing adoption rates of voice-activated assistants. Additionally last year, Amazon experimented with giving Alexa-powered device users early access to a few more exclusive deals, to aid in sales and even more adoption of their voice products.

Overall, the most popular products of the day were tech gadgets and other electronic devices, but Amazon also placed an emphasis on high-performing categories and most-shopped themes, like “sports fanatics”, “pet lovers” and “gardeners”. While the footwear category wasn’t called out specifically for being a high-performer, Prime Day 2017 gave shoe lovers exclusive access to some majorly discounted products across popular brands like Frye, Luciano Natazzi and Saucony.

Promotional Tactics by Other Retailers in 2017

There was certainly a halo effect from Amazon Prime Day on other retailers, in terms of traffic, sales and promotional tactics leveraged. Footwear retailers from Zappos to Sperry held their own “Semi-Annual” and “Summer Sales” to compete with Amazon. The same can be said for apparel brands, who focused much of their messaging around “Summer Clearance” and “Days of Summer” events.

Because Back to School, the second most critical retail holiday of the year, kicks off and begins to build up around the time of Prime Day, promotional tactics for kids and parents were also top of mind. While we didn’t see too much correlation between Prime Day sales and Back to School products, specifically, the general focus on electronics was a natural tie in, as was the emphasis on footwear, which has been the historical highest-performer category in consecutive Back-to-School seasons.

What Can Retailers Do to Prepare for 2018?

If you haven’t already thought about Prime Day or prepared any promotional strategies of your own, there’s no time like the present! While in many cases, Amazon holds a distinct competitive price advantage, retailers can successfully compete in other avenues, like through engaging and personalized content (style guides, curated category lists, rich imagery and video on-site). Be consistent (and persistent!) in your promotions, which could also mean extending the sales further, and focusing on retargeting tactics to capture revenue after Prime Day is over. Most importantly, make sure that your site and your budgets are ready, and keep a close eye (s) on both these things as Prime Day approaches.

From a customer service perspective, free shipping is an absolute must, as is free 1 and 2-day shipping in many cases. Amazon has consumers wired for immediate access and gratification, meaning, your shoppers are going to want their discounted products fast. And finally, make sure that your customer service reps are ready, whether they be on-site, through chatbots, email or phone – Amazon has been known to have some service issues during Prime Day’s past, and even if the day runs in complete seamlessness for them, that means your teams need to work doubly hard to give customers the best experience possible.

We’ll be watching and reporting on Prime Day 2018 as it arrives and wraps up. Until then, happy promotion building!

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