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Amazon Prime Day: the key opportunities and trends for businesses

Amazon Prime Day: the key opportunities and trends for businesses

Amazon’s record performance in 2020 – with revenue up 38% to $386 billion – reflects a year in which e-commerce boomed. It is therefore little wonder that Amazon Prime Day is back for another year in 2021, with consumers happier than ever to scour for the best deals from the safety of their homes.

What does this mean for other businesses in the e-commerce industry? The good news for wider retail is that the pandemic-accelerated appetite for online shopping is moving further away from purely calendar events; affording a broader range of opportunities for brands to capitalise on. In the meantime, brands should seek to reap the benefits of the shopping fever drummed up by Amazon Prime Day. 

The ‘halo effect’

Prime Day typically occurs in mid-July and has expanded from 24 hours to multiple days of deals exclusively for Prime members. Beyond the popularity for the event itself – which generated $10 billion in gross merchandise sales in 2020 – research into Prime Day 2019 and 2020 indicates a clear increase in traffic and sales for other retailer partners around the big sale days. Commentators call this the ‘halo effect’, referring to the pattern of general sales uplift as other retailers promote their deals around Prime Day.

Some US big-box retailers have adopted this strategy in a particularly big way. Target, for example, has lined up its own two-day Target Deals Day with Prime Day for the past two years. In the UK, John Lewis also upped its offers across the store in a bid to stay relevant and profitable amongst a succession of department store closures. Similarly, the Currys PC World sale is the UK’s most direct competitor to Amazon’s annual event, which itself began as a purist tech sale. This year the company offered deals to rival Amazon’s up to 40% off products, including laptops, TVs, mobile phones, fitness trackers and more.

Amazon Prime Day also presents a major opportunity for third-party sellers, who can improve their standing on the site and bring home above-average sales numbers. Last year, third-party companies, many small and medium-sized, made a total of 3.5 billion over the course of the two-day sale according to Amazon

Beyond the 24-hour window

As previously explored in GingerMay’s analysis of Black Friday sales, companies are increasingly realising that consumer appetite for time-limited mega sales is fading. In part, this is a result of the growing urge among brands and retailers to maximise revenues by launching offers before competitors. Amazon’s decision to move it’s Prime Day to October in 2020 undoubtedly contributed to this shift, demonstrating the extent to which retail giants can rewrite the whole shopping calendar. The rise of e-commerce has also created greater transparency when it comes to sourcing the best deals. According to consumer group Which?, nine out of ten products sold on Black Friday in 2019 were available for the same price or cheaper earlier in the year. 

The dip in physical retail is also a significant factor in minimising the relevance of the seasonal sales model. Physical retailers are having to rethink their strategies as consumers hunt for deals online and fall out of sync with traditional high-street sales patterns. According to Milka Kramer, UK and Ireland manager for Pinterest, “the rise of showrooming (such as IKEA) or ‘inspiration destinations’ (Microsoft), which lead purchases online rather than necessarily in-store, are trends to look out for.” This shift has the potential to disrupt the whole sales model, if physical retailers are able to create other incentives in driving sales through a new shopping experience.

Different ways to shop

This year, Amazon has also adjusted to shifting consumer trends by introducing several new ways to shop its Prime Day offers. One key initiative is Amazon Smile, where shoppers buying via smile.amazon.com (versus www.amazon.com), trigger a 0.5% donation of the purchase value from Amazon to a charitable organisation of their choice, for eligible products. Since the interface is the same, the new approach makes for an easy way to give back as consumers load up their shopping cart, as well as bringing added value to the shopping experience without extra friction. In addition, Amazon also introduced deals to its bricks and mortar stores, including Whole Foods Market and Amazon Go, in a move to align its online and physical targeting. 

Not to be outdone, retailers such as Best Buy have joined the innovative curve and launched their own subscription shopping services in a bid to divert market share from Prime. In return for an annual fee, subscribers will get free shipping and exclusive prices on some products in store and online. The programme arrives as Best Buy is trying to bolster its e-commerce business, which now accounts for about 43% of its domestic sales.

While we are yet to see the full success of Amazon Prime Day this year, it is obvious that for many the annual event provides the much-needed excuse to indulge in some retail therapy. Only time will tell whether online shopping habits accelerated by Covid-19 will continue to reshape the e-commerce landscape, as well as the wider implications these trends will continue to have on physical stores. 

Interested in reading more about the digital and retail landscape? Check out our recent blogs on the top digital marketing trends for 2021 and lessons from Black Friday 2020.

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