Thursday, 23 July 2015

Was Amazon Prime day a flop?

I know some people who complain about 'artificial holidays'. They claim that there are days that are basically designed to sell greetings cards and gifts that are made up by companies.

Certainly Halloween and Valentine's Day were much less of a big deal in the UK 20 years ago, but what's the fuss about? Everyone likes an excuse to celebrate, right? And some 'imported' holidays like the American Black Friday have given us a whole new range of sales - admittedly at the cost of the odd undignified scene of people fighting over flatscreen TVs.

Frank Gaertner /
Well, Amazon recently decided that they'd add a new date to the sales calendar - last week's Amazon Prime Day. They're celebrating their 20th anniversary, in case you were wondering. By some reports, though, it was not a huge success.

We're sure that Amazon executives will be racking their brains and carefully analysing what they did to find out what when wrong and why. But we've made some educated guesses of our own below.

Firstly, Amazon restricted the sale to Amazon Prime users. This was possibly an attempt to get people who aren't signed up for Prime to join the service. Whether that's a great idea or not, we aren't sure - after all, Prime is famously a loss leader for the company. But the theory that Prime users are more likely to buy from Amazon in the first place is probably sound.

Secondly, Amazon had the sale on an otherwise-boring Wednesday. Without a holiday or anything else to tie it to, there wasn't much incentive for customers to log on and check things out when they'd normally be at work.

Thirdly, Amazon chose some strange products to put in the sale. While there were TVs and Kindles and other items that sold out quickly, there also seemed to be a large number of less-desirable items. Non-slip socks and knee braces and the like.

Finally, Amazon didn't market it properly. I spoke to a couple of Prime users who weren't really aware that it was coming up until the day itself, or just before. If they'd known things they were going to buy anyway were going to be on sale, they might have delayed purchases and boosted Amazon's turnover.

We'll see if Amazon Prime Day returns next year, but we'd be surprised if it does.


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