Retail’s Go Big Or Go Home 2019 Prime Day


When Amazon first launched Prime Day in July 2015 to celebrate its 20-year eCommerce anniversary, the world was not at first sure what to make of the impromptu sales holiday. Some were enraptured to have a summertime Black Friday, some accused Amazon of ripping off Alibaba’s Singles Day, some complained the deals weren’t that great  and many mumbled something about it never working.

But by the end of the first Prime Day when the final tallies were rolling in and grades were handed out, the grumblers had been proven decidedly wrong. Amazon may have taken its share (and then some) of teasing on Twitter all day — but ultimately it was laughing all the way to the bank as it was clear that Prime Day definitely worked.

And, as is Amazon’s custom when something works, it did it again, but bigger every single time it has come back since. In 2018 “Prime Day” officially became a misnomer when Prime Day stretched beyond 24 hours and a concert headlined by Arianna Grande. This year Prime Day is a full two days long — and will kicked off by a concert headlined by Taylor Swift. That concert, apart from being a showcase for her album out in August, will also be a chance to catch sneak peaks and trailers for all the new show and films coming to Amazon Prime video in the not-too-distant future.

With Amazon going to Taylor Swift levels of big for Prime Day this year, the rest of retail basically has one of three choices available as Americans dust off their credit cards on Monday, July 15. They can quit the field, go home and let Amazon run the table. Or they can attempt to go as big as Amazon — and hope to ride the retail wave.

But for some high-rolling players, the challenge is not to go as big as Amazon — it is to find a way to go bigger.

Target: It’s Not Prime Day, It’s Deal Days

While Target celebrates Prime Day, it does not call it Prime Day (for obvious reasons). Instead it has Deal Days, which just happen to run the exact same two days that Prime Day does. The so called “biggest sale of the summer” is an extension of last year’s non-Prime Day celebration, the one-day sale that fell on Prime Day.

“Last year’s One-Day Sale was one of our biggest days of the year for online sales,” said Mark Tritton, executive vice president and chief merchandising officer at Target. “This year, we’re giving guests more discounts across even more of our assortment with two days to save on hundreds of thousands of items and offering the best options in retail for delivery and pick up on their terms, including same-day.”

As of yet Target has not released its list of items that will be on sale for the big promotion — through its release did promise rarely-on-sale and exclusive items in the toy, apparel and home categories.

For 2019 Target is additionally not only promoting what customers can get this year on Deal Days, but also all the choices that lie before them when it comes to how they can choose to receive it. There are the standard in-store and order online/mobile options up for grabs, as one would expect. But this year Target is also spending some time reminding consumers that they can order from and have their goods shopped for and delivered to their home within hours by Shipt. The shop is also promoting its curbside pickup product Drive Up and two-day free shipping for REDcard holders or anyone who spends more than $35.

Has Target gone big enough?  Time will tell, of course — but Prime Days past have been kind to the Minneapolis based retailer, with 2018’s outing ending up one of their biggest shopping days of the year. Last year Target’s leading sales categories were small appliances, beauty and personal care, baby gear, home and tech items.

We’ll let you know if customer favorites remain the same in 2019 — and if Target’s “rare deals” will tend to clump up in those categories.

Walmart Opens Early and Closes Late For Its Sales Celebration

Given the ongoing game of one-upmanship that Target and Walmart are ever engaged in as they hunt to command an ever larger share of the consumer’s whole paycheck, it should not be a surprise that if Amazon has doubled Prime “Day” into a 48-hour event, then Walmart would decide to double down on doubling up and make its sales event four days long.

Walmart’s sale will kick off on July 14 and run clean through July 17. Walmart said last week that it will release thousands of special buys and Rollbacks on during its online sale. Those savings will be concentrated on electronics, video games, home items, fashion and toys — a similar list to Target’s. Walmart, however, has also given a sneak peak at some of the specific items that it is offering savings on: the he HP 15.6-inch HD Touch Display laptop computer for $429 ($150 below list) and the Dyson Multifloor Bagless Upright Vacuum for $154 (a savings of $125).

Customers whose orders are greater than $35 will receive a free two-day shipping or free NextDay delivery, depending on eligibility and the buyer's location.

But while Walmart and Target are obviously responding to Amazon, neither is referencing their great digital rival directly.

But eBay, on the other hand, is taking a slightly more direct approach.

eBay Gamifies the Retail Fail 

Among the lowlights of Amazon’s Prime Day in 2018 was a crash that brought down the site for consumers nationwide during the early part of Prime Day. Amazon recovered and things got back on track — the problem was explained by insufficient server capacity and a failure in an auto-scaling system.

The day proceeded along, and a year later most folks had forgotten about the glitch. Most, but not all. Specifically, not eBay.

In its less direct response to Prime Day, eBay announced it was rolling out three weeks of discounts and deals on the eCommerce site this summer to make sure consumers have lots of chances to catch savings.

The somewhat more pointed discount, however, comes in the form of the one-day only “Crash Sale” that may or may not be happening on July 15 — depending on how things go over on the Amazon site. If Amazon crashes again this year, the crash sale goes into effect and eBay will be offering “once in a lifetime deals” for the duration of the time the Amazon site is down.

What those deals will be exactly have as yet not been disclosed. eBay has said, however, that if Amazon goes down again, it will be ready to greet shoppers. Thus far, Amazon has not responded to the trolling.

And how will customers react to all of this?

Well if the last several years have been a prologue, they will likely shop till they drop.

Or, well, crash.



The How We Shop Report, a PYMNTS collaboration with PayPal, aims to understand how consumers of all ages and incomes are shifting to shopping and paying online in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our research builds on a series of studies conducted since March, surveying more than 16,000 consumers on how their shopping habits and payments preferences are changing as the crisis continues. This report focuses on our latest survey of 2,163 respondents and examines how their increased appetite for online commerce and digital touchless methods, such as QR codes, contactless cards and digital wallets, is poised to shape the post-pandemic economy.