Why Prime Day Is About More Than Amazon

Amazon Prime Day on smartphone

The annual retail event known as Amazon Prime Day is about more than Prime or the giant eCommerce operators. It’s also about larger eCommerce trends, given that nearly everything that Amazon does helps sets the pace for other retailers, and helps set the standards for consumer demands.

The next Prime Day — well, days — will take place July 15 and 16. 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.

This year, Prime Day will serve as one measure of how much mobile commerce has grown, according to an analysis released Wednesday (July 10) by Salesforce. “In Q1 2019, we saw the mobile tipping point for order share officially arrive: Mobile is now responsible for more eCommerce orders than desktop computers,” it said. “In 2019, we expect to see the most mobile-first Prime Day ever, with 49 percent of orders and 66 percent of visits coming from mobile phones. Contrast that with 44 percent and 61 percent last year. This mobile-first march mirrors the 2018 holiday shopping season when mobile shopping eclipsed desktop for the first time.”

This year’s Prime Day also can signal what types of products online shoppers are interested in — and how those interests are shaping up as the year heads toward the all-important holiday shopping season. As well, Prime Day sales can signal what categories of products are gaining traction online. In this case, it means luxury and home good will likely see the most revenue growth for the 2019 Prime Day event, Salesforce said.

“Shoppers have been slower to buy luxury and home goods products online, compared to items like apparel and footwear,” Salesforce said. “It makes sense: In the early 2010s, buying a designer handbag or sofa for thousands of dollars online wasn’t a common (or comfortable) practice. But today, the luxury and home industries lead eCommerce growth, as online shopping — including the ubiquitous Amazon — has readied consumers to press the digital buy button on items in every category and price point.”

Of course, Prime Day also impacts other retailers, who have to keep up or risk falling behind.

For example, 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 pickup on their terms, including same-day.”

Not only that, but given the ongoing game of one-upmanship that Amazon 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 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.

Get ready, then, for Prime Day and all its imitators. You are sure to see glimpses of the future of eCommerce.


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