Amazon Prime Day 2020: Uncertainty Surrounds This Years Sales Event

Even though many brands participate in Prime Day, they are still working out the best strategy to deploy.

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After much online debate, it’s official: Amazon Prime Day 2020 will take place on October 13-14. Even though many sellers knew weeks ago that Prime Day would be in October, the announcement leaves them with little time to prepare. At the same time, consumers might legitimately wonder if they should take advantage now or wait for potentially bigger sales during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. 

Many brands take part in Prime Day even though it isn’t the most important sales day in their calendar. But there’s a sort of collective learning-process at play. Everyone now knows just how big of a sales day it is for Amazon. But the impact on a seller’s particular bottom line can be less clear. Given the relatively static commerce calendar, with critical sales dates like Holiday, Mother’s and Father’s Day, and increasingly Back-to-school baked-in, Prime Day is somewhat of a newcomer. And as such, it’s real value to sellers is still the subject of debate. 

In true Amazon style, the company does not disclose its exact Prime Day sale figures. But in a press release last July, they did announce that sales surpassed the previous Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined. The release states:

“This year, Prime Day was once again the largest shopping event in Amazon history with more than one million deals exclusively for Prime members. Over the two days of Prime Day, on July 15 and 16, sales surpassed the previous Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.”

The Amazon Blog: Day One

Sellers Must Decide: Promote Now or Wait

The timing of this year’s event creates a dilemma for sellers trying to figure out how this will impact their holiday sales. While some shoppers might use Prime Day to do their holiday shopping, others might be tempted to wait for even bigger deals in the coming holiday season. If that turns out to be the case, holding those marketing dollars and more aggressively advertising during Black Friday and Cyber Monday would be a more prudent strategy. 

But the proximity of these selling periods could work out to everyone’s advantage. It’s clear that Prime Day creates a “halo effect” both on and off its platform. So participating now is likely to have an impact across a brand’s entire wholesale ecosystem. And if they combine Prime Day with Black Friday and Cyber Monday campaigns, brands could be in for an extended sales season, rather than a fractured one. If that’s true, Prime Day 2020 could be considered to be an early-stage process in a one-of-a-kind pandemic-fueled sales funnel, creating awareness and laying the groundwork for a longer sales window.  

A Banner Year for Online Sales Despite Recent Slowdown

The event itself comes during an already bumper year for online growth. According to some sources, online merchants gained an additional $107 billion in sales in 2020, primarily due to the pandemic. But as consumers feel more comfortable returning to stores, the increase in online spending has slowed. According to new data from Adobe Analytics, U.S. online sales grew 42% year over year in August. But that is appreciably slower than July when online sales increased 55% year over year. 

Despite this slow down, Prime Day’s proximity to Black Friday and Cyber Monday looks set to create a much-needed opportunity for brands to make up sales lost to the pandemic’s debilitating effects earlier in the year. At the very least, it offers an unparalleled opportunity for brands to develop a late-year extended sales funnel. While margins are expected to be tighter than ever, this could be just the sales fillip many brands need. 

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