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How Retailers Are Taking On Amazon’s Prime Day

Prime Day

Amazon is rolling out its annual Prime Day event, and other merchants are taking note: Retailers from eBay to Target are rolling out their own promotions as they compete with Amazon for customers. It’s also hard to ignore the traffic that Prime Day generates, with just over three quarters of online shoppers in a Digital Commerce 360 survey either “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to visit Amazon’s site during Prime Day. (Last year alone, Amazon had reported that “tens of millions of Prime members” shopped on Prime Day.)

As a result of Prime Day’s popularity, retailers are stepping up to the plate to offer shoppers deals on their own sites. The month of July “has turned into a mini holiday shopping season,” PwC Consumer Markets Lead Steve Barr told CNBC.

Some retailers are promoting a point of differentiation between their events and Prime Day: Merchants such as eBay and Target are capitalizing on the fact that their sales don’t require a consumer to purchase an Amazon Prime membership in order to partake in the deals. (A membership does cost about $119 a year.)

But Amazon does have Whole Foods, and it is using the grocer to promote Prime Day: This year, in celebration of the shopping holiday that Amazon invented, Prime members will get a $10 Amazon gift card for shopping at Whole Foods during the 36-hour shopping extravaganza. Even so, merchants aren’t deterred from offering their own deals and marketing around Prime Day.

Price Guarantees

eBay is taking on Amazon’s upcoming Prime Day, announcing that starting the week of July 16, it will offer exclusive deals across a host of categories. In a press release, eBay positioned its event as a membership-free alternative to Prime Day: “Why spend money on monthly membership fees to get deals on the things you want?” In addition, eBay Senior Vice President Scott Cutler touted the wide selection of products available on its site. “No one else can match eBay’s variety and value, which fuel our shoppers’ passions with deep discounts on the latest must-have item,” Cutler said in the release.

According to eBay, customers will be able to shop thousands of items across categories including electronics, home fashion and sporting goods – and the marketplace is offering discounts of up to 80 percent off regular retail prices. Plus, as a sweetener, eBay is also throwing in free shipping on eBay Deals items. The marketplace also highlighted its new Best Price Guarantee service in the announcement: If customers find an item for less on an eligible competitor’s website, eBay says it will give them 110 percent off the price difference for all eligible Deals and Top Products.

No Membership Required 

Target took a similar tack to eBay with its promotion: The retailer also highlighted the fact that its sales event is an “epic one-day sale for everybody—no membership required,” according to an announcement. Through a one-day sales event on Tuesday (July 17), the retailer is planning to offer “dozens of deals” on a variety of product categories, from furniture to electronics.

Beyond the promotion, Target highlighted the 5 percent discount and free two-day shipping benefit consumers can receive when they use the retailer’s REDcard. Even as the announcement comes, the retailer is beginning to experiment with a new rewards program dubbed “Target Red.” The new program will not be linked to a debit or credit cardStar Tribune reported in March.

Originally, Target was offering a 5 percent discount on purchases through its REDcard program, along with shipping benefits on its eCommerce website. As a result, almost a quarter of all Target purchases are now made with a Target REDcard. But, with the new free program available in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, shoppers can take 1 percent off purchases and put it toward future visits at Target — without having to use a Target-branded credit card.

New Digital Presence

Other retailers are using Prime Day as an opportunity for reinvention: With Amazon rolling out Prime Day deals, Gymboree, for example, is revamping its digital presence along with a refreshed product and personality. The changes include updated websites, along with an app with augmented reality (AR) functionality, CNBC reported. Gymboree Group Chief Executive Daniel Griesemer told the outlet that the company is “different in almost every single way.” In addition, Griesemer said that “the product is completely re-engineered, redesigned … elevated quality, elevated aesthetic; the new mix-and-match capability — that hasn’t been part of the offering to date.”

The retailer is also offering sales at the time of Amazon’s Prime Day, with discounts of up to 80 percent off on the websites of its three brands. As it stands, a quarter of Gymboree’s sales come from its eCommerce websites. With the discounts, the retailer hopes to counter online rivals and meet a need to bring in shoppers with better deals.

Beyond Gymboree, Target and eBay, retailers such as Best Buy Co. Inc., Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. and Nordstrom Inc. are offering sales around the time of Amazon’s Prime Day.

How successful will retailers be in drawing visitors to their sites on this year’s Prime Day? That remains to be seen, but retailers do have consumer behavior on their side: Customers love to comparison shop – and they might turn to Amazon’s competitors to check out their promotions and prices. In all, Captify Co-founder and CEO Dominic Joseph has said that “the hype created around Prime Day is one of the biggest opportunities and unintended advantages for other retailers get their skin in the game.”

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