Tuesday, July 12th is poised to become the Black Friday of ecommerce this summer. What started as a day for Amazon mega deals -- designed to celebrate the anniversary of its Prime service and promote membership -- is morphing into an ecommerce-wide phenomenon.
According to shopper data from the HookLogic Exchange, last year on Prime Day, traffic on ecommerce sites outside of Amazon.com nearly doubled, peaking with a 2.5-times spike at 7 a.m. EST. Conversions increased 16% on average and then peaked at 11 p.m. with a 59% increase over the prior week. Consumers began shopping early in the day and completed their purchases into the late evening.
Why was Prime Day big across the board? What Amazon does will always have an impact on the market -- especially with all the press coverage and social buzz it generates. But that press coverage also revealed another side of the story: Consumers were disappointed with the deals Amazon offered. While shoppers were ready to spend, many brought their dollars elsewhere because the sale products were not that appealing and the ones that were good ran out of stock immediately. Fortune monitored the Twittersphere and reported comments such as "Amazon's garage day sale" to "One huge troll by Amazon".
All that negative sentiment helped Prime Day turn into a chance for all other retailers to shine in front of millions of ready-to-buy shoppers. While Amazon appears to be trying to improve the quality of the deals this year, it's highly likely that many shoppers will again look elsewhere.
Although smaller in scale, Prime Day offers parallels to Black Friday -- heavy researching the week prior, people delaying purchases to see what deals will be and large increases in traffic and conversion rate on the shopping day. And since there is no "Cyber Monday" to follow, it's a one-day phenomenon with the urgency of a midnight deadline to take advantage of deals.
There is already a lot of mass media driving awareness of Prime Day this year, and other merchants have been increasing their advertising around summer deals. Walmart had a particularly good day last year on Prime Day, so this year it is in market with a free 30-day trial on its two-day unlimited shipping service, and an extra month free for paying members. This started June 29 as Walmart enacted something of a clash-of-the-titans promotional move. As of July 1, it ramped up its "rollbacks," which typically last 90 days or longer.
To take advantage of the Black Friday of summer, here are some ways brands can work with retail partners:
1. Put deals in place to drive interest in your brand. Looking to incent product trial? Jumpstart back to school sales? Drive renewed attention to products that have been in market for a while? This is a one-day opportunity to reach multiple goals you may have.
2. Have a media and pricing strategy that covers all your retailers. Prime Day is an across-the-board ecommerce phenomenon and you need to support all your online partners with advertising on and off retail sites, not just Amazon.
3. Promote heavily on the days leading up to "Black Friday in July." People are actively researching products they will want to buy. With more shoppers in market, reach them whatever and wherever they are searching. One way to further support your brands -- and make sure they break through the competition -- is through sponsored product ads offered by retail sites.
Globally, it's not just Amazon that is having success in creating a shopping holiday. Alibaba in China celebrated a "made up" Singles Day that has become a national phenomenon. In 2015, Alibaba increased its sales 60% from the previous year to a record breaking $14.32 billion, according to Reuters. Amazon reported sales on Prime Day were 18% higher than its Black Friday sales of 2014 and 266% higher than the previous year. Based on retailer-wide traffic, we saw nearly double over the week prior last year, with the sheer volume of deals and retailers participating, we expect Prime Day 2016 to easily best those numbers.
This Black Friday in July opportunity is in a way Amazon's gift to ecommerce -- a reason to celebrate in a season that used to be marked by a commerce lull.