Prime Day: Companies That Don’t Sell on Amazon Might Have Had the Most Success

a man wearing a suit and tie smiling at the camera

Amazon’s Prime Day, or should we say “days,” concluded in June this year with the best showing in its history. Despite inflationary pressure, similar sales at other retailers and worldwide shipping challenges, Amazon was still able to generate $11+ billion in U.S. e-commerce sales. Prime members purchased more than 250 million items worldwide, and Amazon said that customers saved more than on any previous Prime Day.

But it wasn’t all rosy. According to research from Numerator, average order size fell to $44.75, down from $54.64 in 2020 and $58.91 in 2019. While the $11 billion total steals the headlines, Prime Day’s 19% growth was a far cry from the 43% increase posted in 2020.

Numbers aside, what really stood out was that the event itself just felt like another sale. According to Digital Commerce 360, 51% of the top 250 North American retailers also ran a sale during the event. Among the competition, retailers took jabs at Amazon by offering sales “without a membership,” even using words like “Prime” or “two-day sale” to help drive SEO traffic. By the end of the week, most shoppers were worn out by the barrage of choices, the media targeting and, quite frankly, by the lack of differentiation.

While Amazon has always aggressively pushed its own brand electronics, we were pleased to see separate headings in this year’s navigation bar for “Amazon Devices” and “Amazon Brands.” Livestreaming was popular again this year, and several brands utilized dedicated landing pages to better highlight Prime Day deals. Of course, this comes at a cost, but we were still surprised not to see more brands using their brand stores to create free tab(s) specifically highlighting Prime Day deals.

Meanwhile, Panera — a company that doesn’t sell products on Amazon — did a great job leveraging Amazon Advertising to drive visibility for its MyPanera Rewards program.

a sandwich sitting on top of a table

So, what’s next? Amazon made a concerted effort to get Prime Day into the second quarter this year, a move many analysts had predicted given the massive COVID-19 comps experienced in 2020. Despite the nice top-line number, Prime Day had somewhat of a muted feel to it this year: lots of the same items, at the same discounts, presented the same way. It’s the type of experience that Jeff Bezos detests. With Andy Jassy taking the reins on July 5, here are the questions we’re asking:

  • As the economy returns to a new normal and the pandemic (fingers crossed) comes to an end, will Amazon better leverage its store presence across Fresh, 4-Star, books, and other formats to create more interactive experiences?
  • Amazon wants to win grocery, yet Prime Day has never presented a value proposition in the category that makes us turn our heads. Will Amazon start to do things, like offering a “too good to be true” subscription on key grocery items, that create a massive shift in consumer behavior?
  • Amazon’s purchase of MGM is so much more than just video. Will it be able to leverage this new intellectual property to drive both in-store and online experiences, create new content and drive further loyalty?
  • Can Amazon afford not to have another October event?

There are more questions to ask, of course, and Bezos’s parting words to Jassy probably included some form of not playing in parallel with Walmart and Target. If that’s the case, we expect the next Prime Day to look different — and if doesn’t, maybe I’ll scrap my questions and just ask Alexa next time.

About the Author: John Willkom is the Head of E-Commerce at The Mars Agency, where he helps brands win in the ever-changing world of connected commerce. John has a passion for brand building and discovering "what's next." He is an accomplished author, having penned the Amazon best-selling book, Walk-On Warrior, in 2018.

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