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Breaking Down Amazon Prime Day: Was It Worth It?

Breaking Down Amazon Prime Day: Was It Worth It?

Looking to spice up your business this summer? You may want to take a few notes from Amazon. The online retailer turned up the heat last week with one of the most talked about sales events of the year: Amazon Prime Day.

The 24-hours sales event was a huge success from a sales and marketing perspective. Prime users were extremely positive on social media in the days building up to Prime Day, and sales and membership signups went through the roof. According to Amazon, Prime Day garnered more membership signups than any other day of the year and sold more units than the biggest Black Friday sales on record. Now that’s how you spice up a boring, midsummer day!

Yet not everyone felt the love on Prime Day. As the day progressed, dissatisfied customers took to social media to voice their frustrations under the #PrimeDayFail hashtag. The criticism did not faze Amazon. As the numbers suggest, Amazon won big by attracting new members to its Prime membership program and clearing large quantities of merchandise including 47,000 televisions, 51,000 Bose headphones and 14,000 iRobot Roomba vacuum-cleaning robots. Clearly, Amazon is on to something, and we wouldn’t be surprised to find copycat sales events pop up throughout the year.

The good, the bad and the newsworthy

Sales fatigue is very real among shoppers, and consumers are adapting their shopping patterns to wait for sales events. Promotions and sales events used to be a special occasion for consumers but now we’re seeing this type of event for every occasion. Customers are spending less, and looking for high quality, personalized experiences when they shop. So how did Amazon manage to beat sales fatigue? It’s simple.

Prime Day touched on consumers’ natural desire to feel special and important. A members-only blowout sale is a nice way to offer more value and demonstrate the benefits of membership. Retailers can learn from Amazon’s Prime Day by ensuring they also engage with prospective and loyal customers days leading to the event, and then emphasize meaningful, personalized content that delivers on an enjoyable experience.

There are still many challenges that could occur within a 24-hour sales event, which we’ve seen during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Out of stock merchandise, slow Web traffic, competing retailers and a negative shopping experience might come up during an event like this, and we did see many consumers unhappy with Prime Day due to these reasons. As the day progressed, customers’ excitement turned into frustration. Merchandise sold out in seconds, and products that were available at a steep discounted price did not connect with customers’ needs, tastes, or preferences. There was negative reaction on social media as a result and that’s something most retailers – large or small – wish to avoid. This is not unusual for this type of online sales event. A lot of shoppers want to take advantage of the steep discount and it gets very competitive among consumers to get to the best deals first. What Amazon did well was seize an opportunity to engage with and reward its Prime account users with a fun, sale event. That’s an excellent way to build loyalty with customers.

Even if the numbers demonstrate Prime Day was a success from the retailer’s perspective, there is still an area of opportunity to deliver on a great customer experience. Shoppers want to feel special while they shop online. This is especially true among Amazon Prime users, who expect a high caliber shopping experience as part of their memberships. Retailers should take note and ensure that their most loyal customers feel special and have a positive experience during a 24-hour sale when competition among buyers and brands spikes. When customers are shown products that don’t resonate with their interests, can’t purchase an item because it’s sold out immediately, or the website slows – all of this leaves customers with a sour taste in their mouths. The 24-hour sales cycle is always fantastic from the retailers’ perspective and the customers that manage to get what they want, but we’ve seen again and again how it backfires when the majority miss out on that special attention, service and high-quality experience.

What works for Amazon doesn’t work for every retailer and unfortunately, others will and did follow Amazon’s lead. Before doing so, retailers should consider how a similar event might hurt or help profit margins. Brands must also plan marketing and PR tactics leading up to the event that will attract, engage and retain customers. Amazon has limitless resources to pull off an event like this, but brands with fewer resources must work within their limitations. This means ensuring all back-end systems, technologies and personnel are prepared to meet the spike in Web traffic, demand for merchandise, and customer backlash on social media if there is any. The pros should far outweigh the cons, and in Amazon’s case it did.

What was your reaction to Prime Day? Join the conversation on Twitter @Certona