Are brands primed for Amazon Prime Day?

A guide for how companies can capitalize on the sales day that's more successful than Black Friday.

Prime Day -- the wildly popular holiday promotion period Amazon first created seemingly out of thin air in 2015 -- is now an annual event that the commerce giant has said surpasses its Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. This year’s Prime Day starts July 16 and will last 32 hours, two hours longer than last year’s event.

This time, Amazon seems to have kept the date under wraps until the last possible moment. It has since made the announcement, supported prominently with promos on its site, as well as a high impact set of online and offline ads.

Why the secrecy?

There are a few theories. For one, Amazon is known as a relatively secret company within the industry, and its stock price can be affected by wild speculations. However, we believe the real reason the date was announced so late is likely because other retailers get a knock-on effect of people shopping within their stores and Amazon does not want other retailers to distract customers from the event it created, by having them shop elsewhere because retailers can plan counter-measures and deals of their own with enough notice.

What should marketers who advertise within Amazon expect to see?

Through our own Prime Day advertiser research covering 40-plus brands and two billion ad impressions, we’ve seen that Prime Day itself, as well as pre-event Prime Day promotions, drive a lot of traffic and interest to Amazon in the week leading up to Prime Day, but shoppers tend to wait for Prime Day itself to buy. Expect lower advertising budgets for the week leading up to Prime Day, with sharp increases on the day.

With this approach, we’ve seen sales increasing by 37 per cent and spend increase by 25 per cent, though interestingly, conversion rates were consistent with those pre-Prime week. We suspect this is because shoppers are getting wise to the fact that many of the deals promoted for Prime Day are not actually heavily discounted or constitute major savings from the usual prices listed, and so are shopping around to competitive sites to find the best deal.

Last year the Consumer Watchdog raised such fears to the California DOJ. So consumers are getting wise to the fact of a saving does not always mean a saving.

What should non-Amazon retailers expect?

We see that people are shopping around more than usual as they look into whether the Prime deal is really a good deal, or a convenient deal playing on the minds of scarcity. Expect additional traffic and sales interest from savvy, would-be Prime Day Shoppers.

To take advantage of Prime Day for your brand, iProspect’s Paid Platform Merchandising team suggests three things:

1. Capture promotion-savvy shoppers by using Amazon’s new Brand Deals page for promoting products that are discounted further.
Amazon brand stores are great stores within Amazon. Their functionality and data is becoming richer every day, and this year is no different, as the store now has a widget page that will automatically include a product on Prime promotion. This makes it a lot easier to promote sale items in real time as the marketplace and stock changes.

2. Remember that while shopper interest can spike ahead of Prime Day, conversion rates stay consistent with a normal Amazon day for non-Prime deals.
Be careful not to get into search and display bidding wars that will hurt your ROI, just because it’s Prime Day.

3. Make your Prime deals available everywhere, not just Amazon.
Knowing that Prime Day also fuels shopping behavior outside of Amazon, make sure your product merchandising and promotions are happening everywhere. While people may start their shopping on Amazon initially because of Prime Day, our research shows they will shop around, especially if the deal is similar or cheaper in price elsewhere. Ensure your owned brand channels and partner sites are comparable and ready to capture shoppers’ attention when they’re looking to buy.

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