Since its introduction in 2015, Amazon’s Prime Day — the two-day shopping frenzy where the tech behemoth offers thousands of online deals — has become the epitome of the mid-July back-to-school sales season. (In 2019, Prime Day sales amounted to $7.16 billion!)
Even for non-Amazon sellers, Prime Day is a massive opportunity for boosting sales. Beyond the platform, large e-commerce retailers have experienced a 64% increase in their U.S. e-commerce sales on Prime Day than an average Monday.
However, in the face of fulfillment, shipping, and supply chain difficulties caused by the pandemic, Amazon has delayed Prime Day until October. Experts predict that this postponement — now uncomfortably close to the winter shopping holiday season — could steal up to 10% of Cyber Week’s digital revenue. Q4, typically the most crucial season for retailers to capture the bulk of their annual traffic and sales, could be significantly disrupted, too.
So, how can retailers pivot their strategy and prevent Prime Day from depressing Q4 sales? Here are four ways for marketers to take advantage of the demand and visibility created by an October Prime Day.
For more on how to create a holiday marketing calendar:
1. Deck the Halls With Early Deals, Promotions, and Sales
While this year’s holiday shopping patterns will differ significantly from that of yesteryears, shoppers will likely continue the trend of starting their holiday shopping early, especially considering the well-documented delays and fulfillment challenges from COVID-19. Pinterest began to see search traffic related to holiday planning and shopping in April when the norm is September, which suggests shoppers are looking forward to celebrating the holidays and spreading some cheer. Additionally, given widespread unemployment and a potential recession, shoppers will be on the lookout for the best bargains.
Therefore, an October Prime Day will still serve as a significant event for retailers to participate in the buzz and kickstart their holiday promotions. In previous years, businesses off Amazon that run discounts on Prime Day see a 40% increase in sales on average, as shoppers price-match between retailers.
Pro Tip: Keep an eye on your merchandising. Make sure you have enough stock of your bestsellers for a back-to-back Prime Day, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday. Consider using Prime Day only to clear inventory that you are confident you can replenish for the high demand generated by the rest of Q4.
2. Connect With New and Existing Customers
In order to get the best value, 7 in 10 U.S. Prime Day shoppers will look beyond Amazon to compare prices, product availability, and other deals — last year, Best Buy and Walmart saw an increase in search traffic of 255% and 130%, respectively. As a result, marketers should run ads in as many platforms as possible — especially search and display — to drive traffic to their digital storefronts. You’ll also want to be aggressive in claiming the first few coveted spots in your category’s search term on Google. (If you’re not showing up on Google’s first page, it’s time to hire an agency to improve your SEO ASAP.)
But don’t just focus on chasing new shoppers: One advantage e-commerce retailers have over Amazon sellers is the direct connection and meaningful relationship with existing customers. Whether on organic social or through the content you’re producing, you’ll want to use the time leading up to Prime Day to craft creative campaigns that stand out from the noise and drum up excitement in your existing customers.
Pro Tip: Consider adding an email campaign to your Prime Day strategy. Not only is it cost-efficient, but it’s also a great way to get your existing customers hyped up before the sale or deal drops. You can also nurture their brand loyalty and ramp up conversions by offering a special email-only discount code or add-on freebie to their purchase.
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3. Run Some Creative Experiments
Whether it’s messaging, creative visuals, promotion terms, or merchandising, Prime Day can be a great occasion to test the waters and fine-tune your strategy before Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Perhaps what you thought was a hot-ticket doorbuster item doesn’t sell out. Or maybe your competitors ran more aggressive sales than you expected. Nonetheless, Prime Day can be a lesson to help prepare for the upcoming holiday season.
In the past, mid-July Prime Days provided retailers with ample time to restock for Q4. This year, that window will be extremely small, so you’ll need to work fast and smart.
Pro Tip: Not sure if you can successfully pull off both a Prime Day and Thanksgiving promotion? You’re not alone — some retailers have decided to sit it out and hunker down on the November holidays. Consequently, choosing to invest in Prime Day, no matter how small, will be a great opportunity to drive sales and intrigue new customers in an otherwise challenging year.
4. Double-Down on Fast, Reliable Shipping (and Easy Returns!)
The pandemic is responsible for widespread stockouts and shipping delays. As a result, many shoppers are purchasing early to secure the goods they want while they’re still available, which avoids the stress of not receiving holiday packages in time. They’ll also look to purchase their holiday gifts on Prime Day with the knowledge that physical stores may be closed during Black Friday to minimize COVID-19 risks.
Shipping times and return policies will set retailers apart. Whether it’s a lenient return policy or an option for curbside pick-up, advertise these operational advantages. Try to make the shopping process as pain-free as possible for your customers.
Pro Tip: It’ll be a challenge for any retailer to match Amazon’s well-oiled fulfillment processes, so don’t worry if you can’t guarantee fast and reliable shipping and delivery. But one way to make your brand more competitive is to offer free shipping — a survey found that for 70% of shoppers, more than half of their non-Amazon orders included the perk of free shipping.
Get Excited: It’s (Almost) Prime Day
With the visibility and demand generated by Amazon, Prime Day will be an exciting opportunity for all retailers. However, this means brands need a marketing and operational strategy, stat. While there are still several unknown factors (such as the actual date and duration of the holiday), retailers that choose to step up to the challenge and invest in Prime Day will definitely see a worthwhile return.
Sophia is a Manager, Account Management (NAMER) at AdRoll.