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Amazon Seeks to Grow Profits and Perception With Second Annual Prime Day

Amazon Seeks to Grow Profits and Perception With Second Annual Prime Day
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It’s fairly challenging to create a fictional holiday and make it stick. Retailers have done this with Black Friday and Amazon is attempting to do the same in the ecommerce space. The massive online retailer has officially announced it’s second annual Amazon Prime Day.

While last year’s event had a lot of participation, there was widespread and verbal discontentment over the deals, structure, and products available. Amazon promises this year will be bigger and better.

What is Prime Day 2016?

For those who are unfamiliar with Prime Day, Amazon is calling it the “biggest Amazon event ever, with over 100,000 deals exclusively for Prime members worldwide on July 12.” This one-day global shopping event will feature new deals throughout the day -- starting as often as every five minutes -- and will include an array of surprise products and flash sales.

Related: 5 Things Digital Marketers Can Learn from Amazon Prime's 35 Percent Growth

As noted, Prime day is for Amazon Prime members only -- so you’ll either have to become a member or start a free trial in order to be eligible. Other than that, all of the deals are first come, first served.  

Revisiting 2015 -- profits and disappointment.

Whether you feel Amazon’s first ever Prime Day a success depends on who you are. From Amazon’s perspective, it was a smashing achievement. Amazon claims daily sales numbers were up more than 80 percent at noon eastern time in the United States and up roughly 40 percent across most of Europe. They also claim that members ordered 398 items per second, which exceeded Black Friday records at the time.

However, customers immediately went to message boards, forums, and social media to voice their disappointments. Ninety-one percent of Kindles -- one of the biggest discounted items of the day -- were gone by noon eastern time. Approximately 40 percent of all “lightning deals” were gone by 2 p.m. Furthermore, the lightning deals themselves weren’t reported to be all that great.

The 2016 goal -- bigger and better.

Last year was clearly a financial success, but it wasn’t exactly a major PR success. Amazon’s claim that Prime Day 2015 would have better deals than Black Friday proved to be an exaggeration at best. So, what’s the goal for 2016?

Two words: bigger and better.

Related: What Prime Day Means for Amazon and Other Ecommerce Brands

“I believe Amazon can do better, and I want to believe that Amazon wants to do better,” tech reporter Lauren Hockenson wrote shortly after Prime Day 2015 concluded. Well, in the days leading up to Prime Day 2016, we’re seeing a lot of positive signs that Amazon is in fact going to do better.

Here are some things consumers can expect out of this year’s event:

1. Better advertising.

“Amazon is being much more selective this year with the products they’ll promote on Prime Day so that they can work on providing a better customer experience this time around,” says marketing expert Jeff Coleman. However, “despite Amazon’s best efforts, there are going to be plenty of stock outs on promoted items.”

Better advertising efforts and more selective marketing will prevent some of the disappointment that was present last year. You can also bet that Amazon has some backup plans ready to go, should unforeseen stock outs occur.

Overall, it’ll be a much smoother process for buyers and sellers alike.

2. Prime Day notifications.

As Hockenson suggested last summer, Amazon will be implementing a notification system for Prime Day deals. Notifications can be turned on via the mobile app so that consumers know when items available to buy. This is clearly a very important tool and will allow people to track products and purchases without having to constantly refresh pages or stay on the site.

The process of turning notifications on and off is pretty simple. Just hit the “notifications” tab in the app menu and enable “Your Watched & Waitlisted Deals.” When you see a product you want -- either currently or upcoming -- tap “Watch this Deal.” Once the deal is available, you’ll get a notification that your deal is ready.

3. Prime Day contests.

This year’s Prime Day will be exponentially more engaging, thanks to a handful of contests that allow members to win money and experiences. The goal of these contests is to increase the familiarity with Prime Photos and Prime Music.

Related: Amazon Prime Day Highlighted by Disappointment

Users who upload a photo to Amazon Prime Photos will get a chance to win a $5,000 grand prize. Those who use Amazon Prime Music to listen to 12 playlists can win a chance to meet 12 artists and go to a concert. The 12 artists are Norah Jones, Carrie Underwood, Blink-182, The Piano Guys, Casting Crowns, The Lumineers, Cole Swindell, Flo Rida, The Head and The Heart, Mana, The Strumbellas and Pentatonix.

4. More everything.

It appears that the unofficial mantra of this year’s Prime Day is “more everything.” Members can search for deals across all devices and there will be twice the number of small businesses participating. Specifically, the TV inventory will be massive. There will be nearly two-times more TVs available than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.

There will also be much more to watch. Members will be able to watch some of today’s top TV series and movies via Amazon Video. They will be available for both rent and purchase.

5. Better search and sort features.

Members have spoken and Amazon has listened. They report there will be a newly enhanced deal shopping feature that allows customers to sift through categories much faster and more intuitively. And for those who own the Amazon Echo, there will be special, Alexa-only, deals throughout the day.

Walmart responds to Amazon.

As we approach July 12, look for other major ecommerce players to begin offering deals and discounts, too. Walmart -- Amazon’s biggest online competitor – has already announced that it will be running a parallel sale. Specifically, the company will offer a free 30-day trial of their ShippingPass membership. Walmart will also offer special deals, starting July 1 that will last for 90 days -- an obvious stab at Amazon’s 24-hour only deals.

Importance of Prime Day 2016 for Amazon.

The importance of this year’s Prime Day cannot be overstated for Amazon. While last year was a massive corporate success in terms of revenue, the perception surrounding this year’s event is notably quieter, thanks to disappointment from 2015.

If Prime Day is ever going to rival Black Friday and become the smashing success that Amazon intends for it to be, it must thrive this year.

Thankfully for customers, it appears that Amazon is doing everything it possibly can to hit a homerun.