Amazon’s October Prime Day Date Spurs Other Deal-Day Clones, Creating Complexity For Brands

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Prime Day, held in July for the past five years, was a sales oasis in the middle of the typically slow summer months. This year, with usual plans thwarted by COVID-19, the marketplace giant officially landed on a mid-October date for the event.  

Other retailers who have previously held sales events to counter Amazon’s, have launched their own shopping holidays. The effect, eMarketer points out in its latest report, takes Prime Day from ‘Black Friday in July’ to early holiday season kickoff.  

This gives brands big opportunities to capture sales, but also significant challenges. How to capture huge shopper demand not only on Amazon, but not neglect other marketplaces and retailers too? How to strengthen already-tenuous supply chain and logistics to stay in-stock and fulfil delivery promises? And what effect will these October sales have on the pre-planned Black Friday/Cyber Monday events?  Will shoppers be ready to part with their money two full months before the holidays? 

Ballooning sales events

Quickly after Amazon formally announced its Prime Day dates as October 13 and 14, other retailers followed suit with their own deals. 

  • Walmart’s
    “Big Save” sale, 10/11-10/15
  • Target’s
    “Deal Days” sale, 10/13-10/14
  • Coresight Research is partnering with Shopkick, Fashwire, and  12+ retailers signing on to launch a national US shopping holiday, the 10.10 Shopping Festival – a neat take on Alibaba’s
    “Singles’ Day” held on 11/11 

Fellow Forbes contributor Walter Loeb believes that  Kohl’s
, Macy’s
, JCPenney
and others will counter with their own deal announcements “before the end of [this] week” 

As such, brands no longer are just preparing for Amazon’s Prime Day, but for Walmart, Target, and other retailers too. Ingrid Milman Cordy, Head of Digital & eCommerce at Nuun, says that the brand is hosting deals both in-store and online with its key retailers beginning in mid-October, in a bid to gain early wallet share with consumers. “We have effectively “busted the silos” of sales and digital marketing to review promotional planning and investment holistically, and have a cohesive approach throughout brick & mortar and ecommerce,” says Milman Cordy, adding that Nuun’s immunity-focused products are in focus with the impending cold/flu season.  

Despite setbacks, 2020’s Prime Day still expected to be largest yet 

In its first ever forecast for Prime Day, analytics firm eMarketer expects Amazon to generate $9.91B in worldwide sales (up from $6.93B in 2019). “Despite a more uncertain economy, we believe Prime Fay will build on past momentum as consumers continue to spend heavily on ecommerce and will be active deal-seekers heading into the holiday season,” the report says.

James Thompson,  VP of Ecommerce & Growth at Nutrabolt, the maker of several nutrition brands including Cellucor, says that the company will be investing more into its advertising to reach new and existing customers, given the expectation for this year’s Prime Day to set new sales records. Nutrabolt will be participating in Prime Day in the US, Japan, and Europe. 

Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales will suffer

Research from Criteo conducted in August found that 75% of Prime members said they were likely to purchase some of their holiday presents on Prime Day, and 73% said they were likely to spend some of the money they save for Black Friday on Prime Day. 

This will have the effect of separating retail winners and losers. More specifically, it will widen a divide between retailers who can muster up a big deal event in mid-October, rather than banking on sales during the ‘Turkey Five’.  

Nuun’s Milman Cordy agrees, saying that Black Friday / Cyber Monday has been  creeping up earlier and earlier each year. “It used to be the Black Friday / Cyber Monday kicked off the purchasing season, and quite frankly now I see it as it’s finale!” she says. “I’ve found most purchasing that happens afterward is far less likely to acquire the type of consumers who are looking for anything but a big discount, and are less likely to become a return customer.”

Logistics remains a wild-card

Brands – whether they sell direct to consumers via the web, to retailers, or via online marketplaces – are running into significant issues with shipping carriers. Fedex
and UPS have each imposed shipping limits on many of their customers, creating an impossible situation where brands can’t get reliably their inventory to shoppers.

Amazon also appears to be facing capacity issues in its fulfillment centers and overall logistics system. Brands I’ve spoken with have seen the receiving time at Amazon warehouses balloon from just a few days out to four weeks or more. Larger brands with 1P (first party or Vendor) relationships with Amazon have found the company to be slowing their inventory pickups.

Nuun’s Milman Cordy believes that the major retailers might ultimately benefit from warehousing and shipping constraints from carriers. She adds that retailers are beefing up their online and BOPIS offerings, in some cases using partners like Instacart. “I think this is a true turning point for big retailers to step up and fill the gaps left by carriers and pure play e-commerce businesses,” Milman Cordy says.

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