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Amazon’s Prime Day – and how competitors are responding

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Amazon’s Prime Day event is now well underway. The first deals went live at midnight, with new ones added every few minutes.

The event is the culmination of a week of deals that are helping, says Amazon UK managing director Doug Gurr, to establish the day as “a major summer deals day”. He added: We’ve worked hard to make sure we are offering our Prime members the lowest prices on even more great deals for Prime Day 2016.”

Certainly, the site today is entirely focused on the event, with non-Prime members prompted to join the subscription scheme in order to benefit. Those who do so will see discounts on products across the site, in categories from electricals and computing to home and garden products. Amazon’s own-brand products, from Amazon Fire tablets to the Kindle and Fire TV stick are heavily reduced. Some 80% more Amazon Marketplace sellers are also taking part in the event this year than last. There are incentives to take-up extra fast delivery through Amazon Prime: those who make their first Prime Now order using the relevant discount code get £5 off the order, while those using the new AmazonFresh service that is now serving 128 London postcodes can get up to four £20 gift cards applied to their account, as long as the delivery is made by July 16.

“The only thing better than snapping up amazing deals on Prime Day is having your order arrive just minutes or hours after placing your order through Prime Now,” said Stephenie Landry, worldwide vice president of Prime Now. “Prime Day is all about rolling out the red carpet for Prime members and we know customers love the amazing convenience of receiving their order in lightning fast speeds.”

Last year’s event, according to analysis from SimilarWeb, was the sixth biggest shopping day of the year. Its analysis showed that not only Amazon benefited from the rush to buy, but that a range of other retailers did as well. Today, sale events were on show across a range of websites.

Currys was offering discounts, many time limited, as well as next day delivery, while clearance is well underway on the John Lewis site and homewares and fashion items are offered at up to 50% off on the M&S site. Argos is offering free same-day delivery to all spending more than £10 in its free Fast Track one-day event, with an ‘everyone’s invited’ strapline.

Mark Denton, head of retail propositions at BT Expedite says the day is Amazon’s attempt to drive the Black Friday mentality in the middle of summer – and that competitors must respond with a focus on convenience. “This includes mastering delivery times,” he said. “Amazon Prime is now pushing the envelope by offering same-day delivery. This superior level of service is something other retailers will need to follow- especially around busy shopping periods such as Christmas and Black Friday where time is often of the essence. Alternatively, they will have to face being left behind. If all else fails – offer free same-day delivery as Argos have this year.

“It may be July but the run up to peak trading has kicked off. I’m expecting to see special offers, flash sales and free same-day deliveries galore in the next few months. Yet it’s important not to get caught up in the whirlwind and lose sight of the customer experience. Huge sales days such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday require scalable and robust infrastructure as well as a solid, stable e-commerce platform – one that can cope with the influx of traffic without crashing on the day. This ensures that the volume of activity and the unprecedented demand is catered for without impacting the customer experience or brand reputation negatively.”

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