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Amazon continues to be a game-changer for ecommerce sites

Amazon’s Prime Day is a marketing strategy that works, but what are the takeaways for SMBs?

Certain companies are credited with being game-changers in their respective industries. For the ecommerce industry, that company is undeniably Amazon. The world’s largest ecommerce marketplace is an unparalleled force in ecommerce due to its innovative campaigns—the most well-known of which is Prime Day.

Analysing how Prime Day became such a success gives marketers an insight into how to better strategise their own campaigns. With this in mind, let’s take a look into why Prime Day is such a trailblazing marketing campaign and what insights markets can takeaway.

From online bookshop to ruler of ecommerce

Amazon is a multi-billion dollar company – edging closer to a trillion-dollar valuation – with a founder, Jeff Bezos, who can boast the title of ‘world’s richest person’. However, a lot of groundwork was required to get to the place where Amazon is today.

Bezos founded the company in 1994, when it originally took form as an online marketplace that focused solely on books. Recognising the need to expand, Bezos later introduced a range of other products, from video games to food to furniture. Amazon continued to go from strength to strength, optimizing their platform to enhance usability and provide even more products and services. As Forbes points out, part of Bezos’ success with Amazon is that he has continually “pushed Amazon to be cheaper and better than the competition.”

What exactly is Prime Day?

Prime Day was introduced on 15 July 2015 to celebrate Amazon’s 20th anniversary. For the unfamiliar, Amazon describes it as: “An annual celebration with awesome deals and exciting product launches, plus live entertainment and more, exclusively for Prime members.”

Prime is a subscription service that costs customers £7.99 a month. In return, subscribers receive a host of benefits such as unlimited one-day delivery, access to exclusive deals and services and, of course, Prime Day – the annual sales event that sees revenue skyrocket.

This year, Amazon managed to break all previously set Prime Day records. According to Amazon’s own data about the global two-day event:

  • One million-plus deals were offered
  • More than 175 million items were purchased
  • Sales surpassed 2019’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined
  • Members saved more than $1 billion.

Needless to say, Prime Day led to significant sales for big-name brands that sell through Amazon. In the UK, the Sony PlayStation Classic Console, Oral-B SmartSeries Electric Toothbrush and Shark Vacuum Cleaner were top-sellers.

Notably, SMBs that sell through Amazon were also positively impacted, making in excess of $2 billion in sales.

Prime Day: a successful ecommerce marketing strategy

The enormous success of Prime Day begs the question: why is it so successful?

There are many reasons for its success, many of which relate to Bezos’ original objective to make Amazon “better than the competition”. Let’s explore three of the primary reasons:

  1. Prime Day generates loyalty among its customers. Amazon does not shy away from driving loyalty to its own products. McKinsey explains that by showcasing their own products front and centre during Prime Day, Amazon contributes to its goal of building a powerful, entrenched ecommerce ecosystem.
  2. Amazon’s knack for logistics is another major reason Prime Day is so effective. As ZDNet puts it: “Amazon’s competitive advantage is its logistics vs. other retailers.” Free one-day shipping combined with super sales is at the heart of Prime Day. It’s something most other retailers cannot precisely emulate.
  3. Prime Day leverages the psychology of sales, an incredibly effective tactic. After all, there are few people that can resist the call of 50% off or buy-one-get-one-free offers. Prime Day takes sales to the next level by offering its members massive discounts over a large range of high-quality products. The fixed timescale adds to the incentive by creating consumer excitement around purchases.

Compete, not beat: key takeaways for SMBs

While your ecommerce company may be nowhere near the size of Amazon’s, you can certainly take some pointers from Amazon’s Prime membership model. For starters, you can set up an enticing loyalty program that not only attracts new customers but retains existing ones. As HubSpot highlights, the benefits of loyalty programs include:

  • better customer retention
  • more customer referrals
  • greater cost-efficiency
  • the opportunity to harness user-generated content and reviews.

You can also find a way to offer speedy and/or low-cost delivery. Maybe you can’t offer free next-day delivery to all your customers, but there are plenty of ecommerce strategies to consider. You could, for example, reward new or repeat customers with limited offers of free or discounted shipping. These offers can also be automated via popups on your site or email marketing campaigns. You could also use shipping deals in your paid digital strategy – carefully targeted campaigns that comprise compelling messaging and creative can drive conversions.

Another key way to compete with Amazon’s Prime membership model is to occasionally reward your customers with eye-catching savings. The reason we emphasise that they should be eye-catching is that putting lacklustre items on sale won’t entice your customers. Just take it from Amazon’s very first Prime event, which was criticised by customers as being the equivalent to a “crappy yard sale”! Be sure to be strategic with your sales, or it could damage your reputation and turn potential customers away.

Build value for your own ecommerce site

You may be wondering if there is still a place for standalone ecommerce stores. You may even be wondering if you should make the switch to selling on Amazon exclusively. Amazon offers retailers a variety of advantages, but there are also many advantages of selling on your own website that you should keep in mind.

For instance, the analytics you have access to on your own website far outweigh those that Amazon offers its retailers. As a result, you’ll be able to take advantage of meaningful insights and data when planning and creating marketing campaigns.

Moreover, when you sell on your own website you aren’t constrained by the Amazon’s policies for running campaigns or promotions. Simply put, you can do it your own way. This contrasts dramatically from retailers on Amazon, who offer little opportunity to run innovative campaigns or utilise full-mix digital marketing strategies that include integrated tactics like SEO and content marketing.

Perhaps most importantly, by selling on your own website, you will be able to create brand equity. Compare this to Amazon, where retailers have little opportunity to engage in effective branding of their products – almost all of the credit flows to the ecommerce giant.

If you want to take your ecommerce store to the next level, we’d love to work with you to make this happen. Get in touch using the form below.

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