85 million Amazon Prime members prepped for record sales event, other retailers react

by Kim Souza ([email protected]) 1,219 views 

Millions of consumers will shop like it’s Christmas over the next day and a half as Amazon unveils its 30-hour Prime Day sales event expected to set a new one-day record by eclipsing last year’s sales growth of 60%.

This year Prime is expanding to consumers in India, China and Mexico as well as 10 other countries. Amazon also is including its eight bookstores with physical locations. The sales event will begin at 8 p.m. local time on Monday, July 10 and continue through the following 30 hours to conclude at midnight July 11.

“This year’s Prime Day is too big for 24 hours — so we’re giving Prime members 30 hours to shop,” said Greg Greeley, VP, Amazon Prime. “Our members love Prime Day and we were thrilled by the response over the last two years. Every side of our business is working to deliver more deals for a record number of shoppers.”

The online retail giant began unveiling a few deals last week, exclusive to its Prime membership which is now believed to include some 85 million U.S. consumers, according to a recent report from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners. The report said Prime members represent about 63% of all domestic customers on the site. Membership grew 35% over the past year and has doubled since 2015, the report states. Prime members spend an average of $1,300 per year on the site, compared to $700 for non-members.

This is the third year for Prime Day which began to mark Amazon’s 20th anniversary in July 2015. Since that time Amazon has expanded the offerings and other retailers such as Wal-Mart and J.C. Penney has tried to replicate online sales bargains that somewhat replicate Black Friday deals in the middle of summer.

Amazon said this year thousands of “Lightning Deals” will be unveiled in the evening hours. These are limited-time offers. The online retailer also said 40% of the “Lightning Deals” are coming from small businesses.

Aside from the lower prices on goods, Amazon Prime members can also glean access to Amazon Music Unlimited for a 4-month trial costing just 99-cents. Amazon Music is a streaming service akin to Pandora. While there are millions of songs available for free, the Unlimited plan allows for more premium downloads of songs. Audible memberships are also marked down 40% for the six months, costing $8.95 monthly.

Grocery is expected to be a bigger part of Prime Day this year with 35% off coupons from its Prime Pantry products in the 30 cities where the service is available. This comes as no surprise given Amazon push to be a larger grocery player, having just 0.8% of the grocery market share in 2016, according to marketing firm Statistics.

Online sites like eBags is offering 25% off online purchases Monday plus 20% back in reward dollars. J.C. Penney is promoting its online business Monday offering a 30% coupon on thousands of “extreme deals” in its Cyber July event. The retailer is offering free shipping for orders above $49.

Wal-Mart began offering “huge summer savings” on technology, apparel, toys, household products sold online. The products can be picked up at a store for free or delivered in two-days, with shipping free for orders of at least $35. Most retailers with an online presence have promoted Prime Day-related sales to their customers via email offers over the past few days hoping to take some of the sting of what is expected to a record sales event for Amazon again this year.

Ed Rosenbaum, CEO of Rainmaker Solutions, said not only does Amazon know the right buttons to push, they are excellent at knowing when to push those buttons.

“This year’s Prime Day will probably break the previous year’s records,” he added.

A recent U.S. survey by Market Track found 58% of consumers said they plan to shop Prime Day deals, this compares to 34% who said they participated last year.

“Competing retailers have learned a lot about Prime Day over the past two years, yet the event is very much still in its youth,” said Ryne Misso, director of marketing at Market Track.

Millennials are buying from Amazon at a higher rate than their older or younger generational cohorts, according to a report from Yes Lifecycle Marketing. The report released Monday found 79% of Millennials surveyed are Amazon shoppers. The survey of more than 1,000 consumers of all ages in March 2017 found 55% of Millennials choose to buy from Amazon for its Prime benefits and 76% because of prices.

“Amazon Prime benefits draw in millennial shoppers more than other generations by aligning with their preference for loyalty messaging and programs,” said Michael Fisher, president of Yes Lifecycle Marketing. “By segmenting their customers by generation, marketers can pinpoint customer preference for elements like messaging, channel and timing, and define distinct strategies that resonate with those audiences. And in turn, marketers will create long-lasting relationships with their customers.”

The Lifecycle report found baby boomers like Amazon for its convenience and product selection. The e-commerce giant proved popular across the board, with 63% of consumers surveyed having made a purchase on Amazon in the past month.

However, despite the high adoption of e-commerce, the report also shows shoppers of all ages measure the in-store experience to be equally important as the digital one, a promising sign for brick-and-mortar retailers. Generation Z (18%) and Millennials (19%) were among those who most value in-store shopping experiences in addition to online. Conversely, 11% of Baby Boomers said in-store experience is a top factor in brand loyalty.

“Amazon has done a good job of delivering cross-channel communications that speak to millennials’ preferences and behaviors, reaching them where they want and how they want, and other brands should take note,” said Michael Iaccarino, CEO and chairman of Infogroup, parent company of Yes Lifecycle Marketing. “As Generation Z enter the job market and gain buying power, all brands, Amazon included, need to adapt their marketing communication strategies to speak to these digital natives.”

Art Suriano, CEO of TSi Company, said in a recent Retail Wire blog that Prime Day appeals to Amazon’s loyal audience but that leaves a large segment of the market untouched. His advice to Amazon competitors is to focus on the other roughly 50% of U.S. population that is not an Amazon loyal shopper.

“Rather than chasing Amazon trying to compete on price, it makes sense for retailers to be creative and different and make their offers competitive by providing services that Amazon cannot,” he said.