Back in late June and early July 2015, most of us had yet to realize the enormous change that was about to shake up the long-standing retail calendar: The introduction of Amazon Prime Day.
On July 6 of that year, a mere nine days before the inaugural Prime Day, TechCrunch wrote:
“Black Friday, the annual shopping extravaganza which brought in more than $1.5 billion in online sales alone last November, is arguably the single most important day for retailers in the US. Now Amazon wants to steal its thunder with Prime Day.”
And what followed that lead-in did not disappoint.
Reports the day after that inaugural Prime Day all read something like this one from CNN Money:
“So much for Black Friday. Amazon announced Thursday that there were 18% more orders placed worldwide on its ‘Prime Day’ than on last year’s Black Friday, which was the biggest ever.”
Flash-forward to June 2018, with the fourth annual Prime Day right around the corner, and it’s safe to say that Amazon has succeeded in creating a day that rivals Black Friday. For proof of Amazon’s success, look no further than Prime Day 2017, when Amazon continued the trend of raking in more sales than it did on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday the previous year.
Preparing for Prime Day 2018
Let’s face it: Amazon’s success is intimidating for retailers year round. But when Amazon manages to manufacture a shopping holiday out of thin air that surpasses the Black Friday retail juggernaut, that takes intimidating to an entirely new level.
So what’s a retailer to do? Should you hide out for a week or so in July and come back ready to knock it out of the park with back to school? Or should you try to capitalize on the fact that consumers are in buying mode and rake in some Prime Day-related sales of your own?
We posed this question to two of our retail strategy experts, and their answers proved intriguing. While they both recommend trying to capitalize on the fact that consumers are in buying mode during Prime Day, how they suggest that retailers accomplish that goal is quite different.
With that in mind, here is our tale of two Prime Day strategies.
Prime Day Strategy #1: Go Head to Head with Amazon
By creating Prime Day, Amazon has trained shoppers to open up their wallets every summer. They’ve essentially created a second Black Friday.
Now that Prime Day is well-established (and consumers are well-trained to shop during it), retailers would be well-served to take advantage of this gift and reap the benefits of the shopping holiday created by the e-tail giant.
At this point you’re likely thinking: How can I go head to head with Amazon? My entire marketing budget is likely less than Amazon spends on a day’s worth of ads. But trust me — or rather, trust the data — you can use Prime Day (and all the marketing dollars that Amazon puts behind it) to your advantage.
Just take a look at sales for a particular apparel retailer last July. See that big spike? That was July 11, 2017, aka Prime Day.
How did that retailer do it? The marketing team took advantage of the momentum Amazon created around getting shoppers to look for deals by sharing their own specific messaging and promotions for that day.
And you can do the same. All it takes is four simple steps:
1) Highlight Your Unique Products
Capture customer attention on Prime Day by highlighting the products you offer on your site that are not available on Amazon — and specifically call this out. This type of promotion reminds customers that they can’t get everything on Amazon.
2) Understand Your Past Sales
Understand which products sold well for you last year and highlight your newest products in those categories. It stands to reason that what sold well for you last year will prove popular this time around, too.
3) Track and React on Prime Day
Track trending products on Prime Day and react as quickly as possible by promoting similar products of your own to interested audiences. While this requires you to spin up new campaigns and audiences quickly, if you can react to trends on Prime Day itself, you have a strong chance of capturing interested shoppers.
4) Offer Shipping Benefits
Offer similar shipping benefits to Amazon. Consider calling out any special benefits you plan to offer in the week leading up to and during Prime Day by adding banners to your triggered and promotional emails. On Prime Day, you should even consider updating your email subject lines to mention these benefits.
Prime Day Strategy #2: Pick Your Punches with Amazon
I do agree with my colleague Ben that retailers should capitalize on the momentum that Amazon Prime Day creates, as customers are more inclined to shop online as well seek deals and exclusive promotions around this new holiday.
But instead of trying to go head to head with Amazon during a holiday that was created to specifically benefit the Amazon brand, I believe your team should be a little more strategic in not only how you target customers during this timeframe, but also when you choose to target customers.
Below is a great visual representation of the natural lift in online sales due to Prime Day. This graph shows the overall eCommerce sales across retailers using Bluecore in 2017, with the arrow signifying Prime Day.
Clearly, there’s a spike in sales. So while I do absolutely agree with with the four points that Ben laid out above, I disagree with him on when your team would be best served to put these strategies into action.
I recommend targeting your customers just after Prime Day rather than during it. If Prime Day is Amazon’s version of Black Friday, why not create your own version of Cyber Monday?
Ben says you can trust the data — and I agree. Let’s take a look at the same graph as above, but this time with a focus on the area where I believe the biggest opportunity lies:
Now let’s take a look deeper look at the four steps above and how I recommend adjusting them to be the most effective for your team:
1) Highlight Your Unique Products — For A Few Days
Highlight the products you offer on your site that are not available on Amazon — and specifically call this out. Continue this type of messaging for the next three or four days to try to capitalize on customers’ deal hungry behavior.
2) Understand Your Past Sales
Understand which products sold well for you last year and highlight the newest products in those categories. Pay particular attention to what type of products customers purchased immediately after Prime Day. This data can be a very telling indication of what types of SKUs or product categories are not available via Amazon but are available on your site. This is your opportunity to counterstrike against Amazon with targeted campaigns that highlight the uniqueness of your brand’s offering.
3) Track and React When Prime Day Ends
Track trending products on Prime Day and showcase similar products of your own to shoppers after the Prime Day deals have expired. This strategy allows you to target customers who were unable to get some of the hottest selling products with a timely message that will feel personalized.
4) Offer Shipping Benefits
Offer similar shipping benefits to Amazon and continue to publicize those benefits a few days after Prime Day along with your post-Prime Day promotions.
How Will You Approach Prime Day?
Well, there you have it: Our tale of two Prime Day strategies. Whichever route you go when it comes to Prime Day — going head to head with Amazon or picking your punches — remember that Amazon’s manufactured summer shopping holiday doesn’t have to be a wash for your brand.
For even more detailed advice on how to prime shoppers to stay loyal to your brand and bring in a sales spike of your own, check out our Prime Day Playbook.