Technology Amazon

As Prime Day returns what’s Amazon doing differently to avoid last year’s backlash?


By Jennifer Faull, Deputy Editor

July 12, 2016 | 4 min read

Amazon’s Prime Day has returned for a second year, with over 100,000 deals to be had for members of its loyalty program. Last year, Amazon claimed that sales surpassed those on Black Friday with Prime members ordering some 35 million items.

Prime Day

Prime Day

But, it came up against a social media backlash with the hashtag #AmazonPrimeFail trending for most of last year’s events as a result of the bizarre products it had put on offer.

The so-called ‘Lightning Deals’ – which are prices set for a limited time – included a Diane Keaton t-shirt, a five-pack of knuckle dusters, and discounted chef hats, leading some to compare it to a garage sale rather than the Black Friday challenger Amazon had pitted it to be.

Matthew Knight, head of strategic innovation at Carat agrees there was a lacklustre response to last year’s Amazon Prime Day, although said it may have simply been be a case of the day falling victim to its own success.

“There were reports of some premium products being sold out within three seconds, meaning anyone who arrived later in the day may have been left with less attractive leftovers. But to misquote George ‘Dubya’ Bush, “Fool me once: shame on me. Fool me twice: I won’t like you anymore.” This year Amazon needs to ensure availability of products that people truly want in order to cement the day as an annual and anticipated shopping event,” he said.

This year, having widened the exclusive benefits of Prime membership – from the sign up of Clarkson, Hammond and May, to AmazonFresh and same day deliveries – Amazon has upped its game.

In a bid to manage expectations and convey the quality message it seems to have pulled back on the loud marketing of last year which proclaimed "more deals than Black Friday". And in terms of the products up for grabs, on first look there are more tech items as well as branded products for the home.

Martin Smith, chief strategy officer, at Geometry Global UK went on to say that it was vital for Amazon to help people to buy well, not just buy cheaply on Prime Day. And to do that it should be leaning harder on its unrivalled bank of data to better personalise offers.

“Amazon knows more than most retailers about what its customers buy and what they love – in life, as well as in their shopping habits. Combining these two things in a smart way, with the right deal, will help shoppers feel happier with their purchases and happier with their Amazon Prime experience as a result,” added Smith.

At the end of the day, the success of Amazon’s entire ecosystem lives and dies with getting people to sign up to the loyalty scheme and last year saw more new members try Prime than on any other day in the company’s history.

However, looking to the future Amazon cannot ignore the backlash people are having towards promotional events, particularly in the UK.

Mark Walker, senior client director at dunnhumby – the Tesco owned loyalty scheme – said that to maintain this momentum it must ensure its carefully curating, rather than bombarding, offers.

“We see the UK grocery market undergoing a fundamental and structural change around their promotional plans; supermarkets are cutting back on the volume of promotions and investing in those which deliver real value to shoppers, and the retailer at the same time," he said.

"While Amazon might have huge breadth and depth of range and potential offers, doing too much runs the risk of diluting the strength of the message and in turn the value shoppers see in the event. In this case ‘less is more’ jumps to mind."

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