Why Prime Day won't be Black Friday

While it won't rewrite the calendar, Amazon's day of deals may turn out to be a seminal event in e-commerce promotion and loyalty club recruitment

Perhaps only Amazon could do it. It alone has the reach and the breadth of product categories with which to pull off its own private Black Friday. On Prime Day, next Wednesday, the Web marketplace is promising even bigger deals than people see on the Friday after Thanksgiving. But players in the retail and shipping industries will watch with detached curiosity to see how Amazon's one-day blowout summer sale fares. The fact is that July 15 isn't November 27, and Amazon Prime members aren't the world at large.

"There are 40 million Amazon Prime members and 318 million people in America," says Robert Persuit, director of business development for ShipMatrix, which tracks package deliveries for major retailers. "It's not Christmas. People feel compelled to overspend at Christmas, but not in the summer. That's why there are so many summer sales."

Prime Day, however, could end up in its own class of summer sale. First off, it's an international event, offered in the UK, Spain, Japan, Italy, Germany, France, Canada and Austria, in addition to the U.S. Deals start at the toll of midnight on the 15, with new ones rolling out as quickly as 10 minutes apart. Seven Deals of the Day and thousands of Lightning Deals merit fast, free shipping. One must be a Prime Member to take part, yes, but Amazon is dangling a 30-day free trial of the program.

A query to the U.S. Postal Department — which delivers Amazon packages on Sundays — to see if it was girding for high package volumes next week was met with a business-as-usual reply. "We are prepared for the expected increased volume," said a USPS spokesperson.

Postal analyst Jody Berenblatt of GrayHair Advisors said Prime Day should pose no problem at all with the mail. "This is the slowest time for mail. That's why the Postal Service always runs its promotions in the summer," she says. "I think Prime Day is going to be a win-win-win event that will create buying activity, boost economic activity, and create a rising tide for all boats."

Where Prime Day may make retail history is in one-day recruitment of paid loyalty program members. "I think it's going to do exactly what Amazon wants it to do, which is to drive more people to join Prime," says Persuit. Should Amazon offer, say, $450 smart TVs for $300 next Wednesday, that could indeed inspire a lot of people to pony up the $100 to join Prime and get the deal.

This article first appeared on dmnews.com.

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