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Sophie Schwartz
Sophie Schwartz
Commerce Strategist

Tested in 2015, and back again this week, Amazon ‘Prime Day’ is a promotional event offered on July 12 to clients who subscribe to Amazon Prime. Here are some easy-to-apply learnings from Amazon’s playbook that any online retailer with an e-commerce site can benefit from.

Amazon Prime Day key ingredients

Amazon Prime is an annual paid service ($99 per year plus a free 30-day trial or $10.99 monthly subscription) targeting Amazon frequent shoppers’ loyalty, while offering some benefits (some additional deals, free 2-day shipping on items sold directly by Amazon and over-sized items get free shipping). 

As per DMR stats, 22% of Amazon.com active users have joined Amazon Prime (54 million users). Shoppers who subscribe to Prime spend 2.4 times more than non-Prime members. These ratios are aligned with the proportion of ‘best’ customer segments in retail loyalty programs.

The initial ‘marketing’ positioning of this promotional day was to rival the increasing popularity of ecommerce surrounding Black Friday events with the banner’s own event. However, beyond this PR claim, realistically it’s a well-managed promotional event to fill a gap in an annual promotional marketing plan. It was created toboost sales and customer acquisition in a lower traffic period, outside of market peak shopping times such as: November Black Friday and Thanksgiving in the US – Christmas in Europe, April Spring time, August – September Back to School.

During the 24-hour duration of Prime Day, 100,000 items were offered on deals and free shipping was granted on all deals ordered during those 24 hours. It does not mean that these were the best deals ever, but the promise is simple and clear: a massive sale event in terms of number of products. In 2015, customers were somewhat underwhelmed by the deals. This led to a new trend in 2016, where bloggers analyzed the rebates during the day and communicated them.

What does this add up to? 

Amazon Prime Day is a well packaged event by the guru of online retail, it’s simple to understand and easy to implement. Although 2015 was criticized by disappointed customers, it still became a positive business driver, which is why Amazon brought it back  this year, and continues improving it. The first results from 2016 are positive as per TechCrunch

How to make it work for your online business

  • Marketing planning: Pick your day (you do not need to justify it, or link it to a banner event like an anniversary). Targeting a lower market promotional noise period is effective.
  • Communication: Announce it in advance in an open way, to all your clients or non-direct clients. Public announcement of the ‘Loyalty Day’ 2 weeks prior seems to be a good practice.
  • Loyalty: If you have a loyalty program in place (or at least an informed customer database), offer it as an exclusive event for best customers.
  • Acquisition: Offer shoppers who want to benefit from an exclusive sale to join your loyalty program for a limited period in order to attend the event, without feeling trapped. I would suggest a 3-month period for a free loyalty program and 1 month for a paid loyalty program, with the option to join for a longer period after this trial.
  • Duration: Mobilize your teams in your organization to run it for 24 hours. This full coverage is a benefit from purchasing during a one-off online event for your customers. You can add additional hourly deals for limited volumes, like Amazon, but it’s an option. In such a case you need to prepare a social media plan with an active community in tune with the specific deals and targeted audience.
  • Products: Apply the promotion to a large assortment, online only, with a dedicated flag to all eligible items. It’s a specific ecommerce promotional event for your customers (loyals and loyalty program new adopters). Do not print leaflets in advance, do not announce specific deals in advance, deal discovery is part of the event. 
  • Free shipping: Offer free shipping (whether it’s home delivery or click and collect) for deals purchased during the day.
  • Technology enabled: Use your marketing module in your commerce platform to promote the event and create limited time offers (e.g. second item free if you order between 12 and 1pm). A commerce CMS embedded in your commerce platform will allow you to use live Product Information Management, inherit the featured items flag activated through a merchandising query and manage limited quantities. Use your personalization capabilities to target top deals per customer who purchased from your online business before.

In summary, why not take a page out of Amazon’s winning playbook? The One Day event is accessible to any online banner with an ecommerce website. As per Amazon, results will be positive, and not only due to the event itself. What’s important is to boost your market share online, especially since e-commerce is still growing. Providing an incentive to grow your customer base, boost loyalty and trigger new opportunities to try your online services are just some key objectives of your event.