We've got info on key dates, plus tips on inventory, marketing and more.
Brands may not be able to circle Prime Day on the calendar yet, but the time to prepare is already here.
Amazon Prime Day is set to return for 2022 in July with a seemingly endless assortment of deals across the ecommerce platform. It offers brands the opportunity to attract attention from a massive audience of customers, and boost a presence that will keep paying dividends down the road.
Like any big event, it’s important to go into Prime Day with the pieces in place to execute. That means knowing key dates, preparing inventory, optimizing marketing and putting the metrics for success in place. With plenty going on already, that's a lot. So, to help, we consulted with experts and key sources to put together a guide to get ready for Prime Day.
Here’s the primer:
Prime Day debuted in July 2015. Billed as a celebration of the Amazon's 20th anniversary, the company effectively created its own holiday. As is typically the case for Amazon, Prime Day is geared toward the customer. The focal point is a bevy of deals on everything from Roombas to Instant Pots to protein powder.
But there are a couple more things that make Prime Day unique.
For one, there was the tie to Prime. Amazon’s membership program already had guarantees built in for shipping and returns. With Prime Day, the subscription could offer access to the best deals at a particular event. It's designed to entice new signups. For Amazon, this also provides an entry point to the range of its services, from streaming video to Kindle to Whole Foods.
The timing also stood out. Think of when retailers probably want to offer big deals, and typically the holidays come to mind, particularly around Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Placing Prime Day in July planted a big shopping event in the heart of the summer. It’s typically a slower time for retail, as school is out and many people are on vacation. With Prime Day, Amazon harnessed the convenience of web-based shopping to turn that on its head.
“The advantage for doing it in the summer is that in theory it is less cluttered in the market because people are in a vacation state of mind,” said Allen Adamson, cofounder of marketing strategy and activation firm Metaforce and adjunct professor at NYU Stern School of Business. “What has changed is that even when people are sitting in their beach chair in the ocean, they have their phone in their hand. They can shop just as easily from the beach as they could by getting in the car and going to the mall.”
Prime Day became massive, and has grown every year since its inception. In 2021, sales reached $11.19 billion, up from $10.4 billion in 2020, according to Digital Commerce 360. It shifted the retail calendar, as Prime Day is now a destination event for brands. It has even created a famed halo effect for other retailers that boosts ecommerce as a whole in July.
As it announced first quarter earnings in April, Amazon unveiled that Prime Day 2022 will be held in July. The company didn’t provide more details on the exact date and how long Prime Day will last, but the announcement was in and of itself a reminder:
Now is the time for brands to start preparing.
Given the success of Prime Day, the decision to participate is likely not a difficult one for many brands at this point. Consulting with private-label brands on Amazon as founder and CEO of Black Label Advisor, Jon Elder, said he has never met one that didn’t want to participate.
It speaks to the potential upside, but keep in mind that big events, by their nature, require going a level above.
“Everyone is going to be leaning into this, so if you’re going to play, you have to play to win,” Adamson said.
Success can look different for brands of different sizes and categories. The important thing is to determine where you fit, and what success will look like.
With that in mind, let’s break down how to get ready for Prime Day in several important areas:
For brands that use Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), there’s a key date to keep in mind: June 20. That’s when Amazon requires sellers to send in FBA inventory. But given the volume of participation in Prime Day, it’s best to get ahead. As with any event, there can be long lines.
“I recommend sending in your inventory by June 1 to avoid the congestion at check-in that happens each year at FBA warehouses,” Elder said. “There is nothing worse than seeing your Prime Day deal get canceled because you waited until the last minute to get your inventory in. It's better to be safe than sorry in this case.”
Meanwhile, the deadline for coupon submission is June 10, according to Amazon. The deadline for Prime Exclusive Discounts for Prime Day is July 8. The latter discounts have specific criteria for Prime Day, so review them here before submitting.
The announcement of the actual date of Prime Day is still to come. Given the inventory deadline, Elder expects that it will likely be held in mid-July.
Holding Prime Day in July marks a return to Amazon’s approach from 2015-2019. It was delayed until the fall in 2020, and held in June in 2021.
Given the success, Prime Day has expanded to a two-day event. Plan accordingly.
When it comes to producing and preparing the products that will be sent in to FBA, stick to the mantra that more is better.
“In terms of inventory, it's best to stock up on your best sellers and make it an internal business goal to not run out of any inventory,” Elder said. “It's always better to be overstocked and stay in stock than to run lean and run out because of Prime Day.”
A backup option, he said, is to work with a third-party fulfillment provider to store additional inventory. If needed, switch a listing to Fulfilled by Merchant (FBM) in order to continue to fulfill Amazon orders even if the FBA inventory runs out.
Knowing what’s most likely to sell can also help to make inventory decisions. In 2021, the top Prime Day categories were health & beauty, consumer electronics, household essentials and apparel, according to Numerator.
Brands are always looking to help their products stand out from the crowd. That’s especially important during a big event like Prime Day. Amazon brings in the traffic. For brands, the work lies in attracting customers.
Given the focus on deals, an event like Prime Day is typically a good place to implement a loss leader strategy. This is when a product is sold at a price that won’t make a profit, but sells in a high volume that brings lots of customers to both the product, and the brand as a whole.
Heavily discounting a certain product can help to attract attention. Practically speaking, this idea is built in to Prime Day. Sellers must offer steep discounts in order to get approved.
There’s a wider opportunity to stand out that goes beyond the core deals offered by Amazon, too. Elder noted a few more approaches brands can take:
Make time to prepare. Before the event, it helps to set aside some time for housekeeping on a few items. This includes optimizing PPC optimization, and completing listings audits. If you’re engaging with influencer marketing on platforms like Instagram and TikTok, it’s also especially important to ensure off-Amazon traffic campaigns are set up correctly, Elder said.
Given the extreme deals available, it’s best to think about Prime Day in the same way Amazon does. The company has shown it is willing to make Prime Day itself a loss leader for the company, running the event on thin margins. The point is not to boost sales. Rather, it is to attract more people to shop on Amazon.
Brands can adopt a similar mindset. Think less about profits, and more about boosting your presence on Amazon for the long-term.
“If consumers are only buying from you on Amazon Prime Day, that’s a good business for Amazon,” Adamson said. “That’s not a good business for you.”
Again, an approach that can bring success goes back to how Prime Day is built. Due to the nature of how discounts are calculated, deals are measured in BSR (Best Seller Rank), not total revenue.
That makes BSR the key metric for Prime Day success.
“To get a deal approved, the discount must be extreme,” Elder said. “In many cases, the brand will lose money on the Prime Day deal. However, making money on the deal is not the goal. Rather, it's to boost BSR, which, in turn, boosts organic ranking, creating increased revenue long term.”
This also contributes to obtaining a Best Seller Badge, an instantly-recognizable identifier of top sellers that helps to increase trust. It shows how what happens on Prime Day has implications for future sales, and underscores the importance of ensuring Prime Day fits into a brand’s overall strategy.
The many swings and shocks of the last few years have taught us that events happening in the world can impact individuals businesses in big ways. That applies here, as well.
In 2020, Prime Day was delayed until October due to the pandemic. In 2021, supply chain issues meant brands were working hard to avoid out-of-stocks. This year, record inflation means prices are up across the economy. Brands are facing challenges at nearly every touchpoint, from the cost of raw materials to transportation, Elder said. That could impact Prime Day as a whole.
“Right now, brand owners are laser focused on maintaining their margin, so prices are going up,” he said. “There is just not the same appetite to provide steep discounts this time around.”
It's important to consider how prices will impact the discounts a brand is able to offer. Even if a brand doesn’t offer a deal at the event, there are opportunities to gain visibility by participating. Ahead of Prime Day 2021, 58% of consumers surveyed by Adobe reported plans to participate. That's a big audience to get in front of. Consider a sale around the event, or approaches to help connect with customers by communicating a brand's values and unique story.
All in all, it’s a rare opportunity for brands to introduce themselves, or meet someone new. Take the time to ensure your brand is viewed in the best light.
This post was updated at 11:35 a.m. on 5/27/22.
Plus, check out peak holiday shopping weekend results shared by Klaviyo, Wayfair and Ace Hardware.
At Amazon, 2022 delivered the "biggest ever" Thanksgiving weekend to date.
ustomers purchased a record number of products from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, the company said in a news release Wednesday. Amazon did not disclose sales figures, while sharing that “hundreds of millions” of products were purchased.
"This was a record-breaking holiday shopping weekend for Amazon,” said Doug Herrington, Amazon’s CEO of Worldwide Stores, in a statement. “Customers shopped millions of deals this weekend and we have many more amazing deals to come.”
It came as record sales and traffic were reported for US ecommerce as a whole during the peak shopping weekend.
Despite the growth, Amazon is still expressing a cautious approach that led it to forecast more tepid sales growth over 2021 for the all-important holiday quarter. According to Bloomberg, CEO Andy Jassy said Wednesday that inflation is leading shoppers to seek deals.
“Consumers are spending, but they’re being careful about trying to stretch their dollar,” Jassy said at the New York Times DealBook conference.
This year, Amazon sought to get an early jump on the shopping holidays to reach bargain hunters. It began Black Friday deals on Thanksgiving, as many shoppers turned to their phones after dinner. For Cyber Monday, deals started on Saturday.
Over the Turkey 5, the best-selling categories were home, fashion, toys, beauty and Amazon devices. Electronics including Echo Dot, Fire TV Stick, and Apple AirPods were the best-selling items. Other top sellers included Hasbro Gaming Connect 4, Burt’s Bees Christmas gifts, apparel from Champion, apparel and shoes from New Balance, the Amazon smart plug, Echo Show and Nintendo Switch.
Amazon said that more than $1 billion in sales were generated for US small businesses through the weekend. This includes third-party sellers that offer goods on Amazon’s marketplace and access its logistics services through Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA).
“If the news of Amazon having the best Black Friday weekend in company history is any clue, it was historic for 3P sellers in many ways,” said Jon Elder, who consults with Amazon sellers as founder and CEO of Black Label Advisor.
Elder said that the vast majority of FBA sellers experienced “tremendous” year-over-year growth through the weekend.
“Sellers noticed that customers were hungry for deals like never before and coupons played especially well,” Elder said. “Some sellers opted to not sign up for deals and still experienced historic traffic and sales.”
Sellers also ramped up PPC, or pay-per-click, in which brands and sellers access sponsored product space to appear in prominent positions on the highly-trafficked marketplace.
“With inflation on the rise, it was more important than ever to increase brand awareness through PPC ads, including video ads. Expect to see brands make this a ‘best practice’ going forward,” Elder said.
Despite all the sales ringing up, Black Friday did bring one curve ball, as a glitch in Amazon’s ad tools led to inaccurate reporting of spend that misled brands and advertisers. According to Business Insider, the sitewide reporting error caused agencies and other ad buyers to either overspend, or miss out on sales as a result of underspending. While a spokesperson said the issue was fixed, it caused a state of confusion on retail’s most important day of the year, as many were forced to wait for a fix.
Nevertheless, the weekend's overall results serve as a reminder that the Thanksgiving shopping period remains the largest weekend of the year for ecommerce, even as Amazon has introduced Prime Day and this year’s early October holiday kickoff event, which it dubbed Prime Early Access Sale.
The Prime sale events are “unique to the Amazon ecosystem, but many Americans simply don’t show up for those events as much because of the time of the year," Elder said.
"Black Friday weekend remains king and the numbers prove that."
Here are a few more key data points over the Black Friday-Cyber Monday weekend that were shared this week:
How many sales do the volumes of messages being sent by brands account for? One of the largest platforms is offering hard numbers. Klaviyo, which serves direct-to-consumer businesses, said revenue attributed to its SMS and email marketing messages reached $2.2 billion during Black Friday-Cyber Monday. That represents a 46% increase in dollars over 2021, while total order count reached 34% year-over-year. The growth was even more staggering in SMS-attributed sales alone, which grew 200% in dollars and $190 in order count.
Black Friday was the highest day for message sends, but Cyber Monday closed the gap from 2021, with 47% growth.
This came after businesses using the platform sent a combined 10.7 billion emails and text messages—up 41% from 2021.
While Klaviyo’s growth is likely a factor, it’s a fair bet that a shift toward owned marketing channels following Apple’s App Tracking Transparency played a role in this growth.
A pair of retailers in the furniture and home improvement categories released sales results showing growth.
Wayfair, the furniture home goods marketplace, reported a “low single digit sales increase” over 2021 for Thanksgiving weekend. Over the five days, 73% of the orders were from repeat customers, while “hundreds of thousands” of new customers ordered from Wayfair for the first time. Wayfair said its revenue strengthened following an early November earnings call, in which the company shared its revenue was down 10% quarter-to-date.
Ace Hardware, meanwhile, may known for its local stores, but ecommerce was the focus of its holiday update. Black Friday brought a record online sales day for the home improvement and tools retailer, posting 45% growth over 2021. Cyber Monday also saw a year-over-year jump of 33%. Ace said demand spiked for grills and smokers, electric mowers and snow blowers, while power tools also remained a popular category. In all, Ace saw a 33% increase in ecommerce sales over 2021 during the five-day weekend.
Ace sells through its ecommerce site, but its omnichannel model remains heavily linked to its neighborhood-level stores. The company said that 90% of online orders are either picked up in store, at curbside or delivered by store associates.
“Our continuous investments in the digital and omnichannel shopping experience make it easy for customers to shop Ace any way they prefer," said Bill Kiss, head of digital at Ace Hardware, in a statement.