Last week played host to Amazon’s second annual Prime Day, a self-created holiday the ecommerce giant dropped in the middle of the summer to drive sales and drum up interest in its premium subscription service.
When one of the largest ecommerce actors in the entire world makes a big play, it’s always worth watching intently to see what successes you can borrow from and what mistakes you can learn from. As ecommerce recruiters ourselves, we’re certainly keeping a close eye! Now that the numbers are in and we have two Prime Days of experience to compare, here’s what you should keep in mind with your own future ecommerce endeavors:
Don’t Abandon an Idea If It’s Not a Success at First
The first Prime Day went smoothly enough overall, but was met by a lot of disappointment from shoppers who were expecting outrageous deals on hot big-ticket items.
The event was met with a lot of hype and excitement. But when Prime Day began, Prime members mostly found moderate discounts on products that weren’t in particularly high demand:
— nick. (@nicktation) July 15, 2015
So far #primeday seems like ‘get rid of junk nobody wants’ day.
— Katie Olrich (@KatieOlrich) July 15, 2015
I’m scrolling through seeing socks, cheap necklaces, phone cases and cowboy boots…o__O #PrimeDay
— Tatiana King Jones (@TatianaKing) July 15, 2015
Intentionally or otherwise, Amazon had set expectations for Black Friday-level sales; high-end electronics, gadgets and media at drastically marked down prices. The reality was quite different, however, and what few products were in high demand sold out very quickly.
While not an abject failure, Prime Day 1 didn’t live up to expectations. Many businesses that would encounter a similar letdown on such a big project would scrap it, turning their attention and ecommerce staffing resources elsewhere. Amazon decided to stick with it and learn from their past mistakes instead.
Prime Day 2 was, by most accounts, much better received. Tempered expectations from last year, a better offering of marquee sales, and fewer immediate sellouts made this year much more successful:
“The second annual Prime Day was the biggest day ever for Amazon.” The company announced in a press release on the 13th. “Amazon today announced customer orders surpassed Prime Day 2015 by more than 60% worldwide and more than 50% in the U.S.” It beat orders placed on Black Friday 2015 by 18%.
Not bad. “After yesterday’s results, we’ll definitely be doing this again, said Greg Greeley, VP of Amazon Prime.
The key takeaway here: if you have a big vision for your online store, don’t give up the moment things go poorly. Study your results carefully, listen to your customers, improve and try again.
The Competitor That Wasn’t?
Many speculated Prime Day was originally developed at least in part as a response to Jet.com, a competing ecommerce platform that had its sights on Amazon’s level of success. Around this time last year, many were talking about this new entrant to the market and what it could mean for e-retailers.
A year later, Jet.com still isn’t on go-to list for online shopping for the vast majority of people. More people are aware that it exists, but not many are acting on that knowledge.
Perhaps it’s a sign that Prime Day was successful in warding it off. More likely, the Jet buzz was overblown to begin with. Either way, it is simply far off from being relevant on a wide scale, and probably won’t be for some time (if ever).
That’s mixed news for anyone considering an ecommerce executive search. It means one less dominant competitor to contend with…but it also indicates that getting an edge on the juggernaut in Seattle will be a monumental task for even the best-organized ecommerce staffing.
Inviting More Guests to Your Party Than You Can Handle
If you build it, they will come. But by the time they come, you better have it built.
During the massive influx of ecommerce traffic to Amazon’s site last Tuesday, many users experienced a major hiccup. When attempting to claim an item or complete an order, they’d get an error message informing them that their request to add the product to their cart was unsuccessful. The problem lasted several hours.
Some customers are reporting difficulty with checkout. We’re working to resolve this issue quickly.
— Amazon (@amazon) July 12, 2016
Amazon has yet to announce exactly what caused the problem. And the impact it had on overall sales will be difficult to gauge unless you have access to insider analytics. But the lesson is obvious; if you’re hoping consumers will flood into your site to buy during a special event, you’d better reinforce it properly to handle the extra traffic and stress.
What exciting buys did you haul in from this year’s Prime Day? Let me know what you got, how your experience was, and how you would grade this year’s event!