This is the third year Amazon has held Prime Day. In 2016, it was the biggest sales day in Amazon's history, with customer orders growing by 60% compared with Prime Day 2015.

Amazon.com Inc.’s third annual Prime Day is set for July 11, a Tuesday.

Amazon representatives on Wednesday told attendees at an invitation-only event for 1,500 of its marketplace sellers that the sale will be that Tuesday.

The e-retailer on Thursday morning made a broader announcement about Prime Day, sending emails to its Prime customers and promoting July 11 on its site and in its app. This year’s sale will run for 30 hours instead of 24, starting at 6 p.m. Pacific on July 10 and ending at midnight Pacific on the 11th. In the Amazon mobile app, digital assistant Alexa answers the question “When is Prime Day?” and notes that Alexa-exclusive offers will be available as soon as July 5.

The sale featuring deals on all kinds of products launched in 2015 as a celebration of Amazon’s 20th year in business has turned into a summer sales holiday designed to drum up additional business before the holiday shopping season kicks off months later. Amazon is No. 1 in the Internet Retailer 2017 Top 500. This year, Prime members in 13 countries can participate, up from 10 last year. The countries are: the U.S., U.K., Spain, Mexico, Japan, Italy, India, Germany, France, China, Canada, Belgium and Austria. China, India and Mexico are new this year.

Prime Day also is a vehicle for Amazon to drive shoppers to sign up for Prime, its $99 per year loyalty program that offers such perks as free two-day shipping, digital photo storage, and streaming video and music.

Prime Day 2016, held July 12 (a Tuesday), produced the biggest sales day in Amazon’s history, according to the retailer. Amazon didn’t release exact sales figures on the day, but Internet Retailer estimates shoppers spent $2.5 billion on the site that day, nearly double the estimated $1.5 billion shoppers spent on Prime Day 2015. Amazon said customers placed 60% more orders on the second Prime Day than they did on the inaugural event.

A survey of shoppers by Bizrate Insights for Internet Retailer earlier this year shows that nearly 70% of all online shoppers say they are planning to visit Amazon.com on Prime Day 2017, while 20.9% say they’ll visit at least one other retailer’s website that day.

advertisement

Jason Boyce, co-founder and CEO of web-only sporting goods retailer Dazadi.com, No. 640 in the Internet Retailer 2017 Top 1000 which also sells on Amazon, says he and his team prepare for Prime Day as though it’s a holiday.

“We actually now prep for Prime Day in the exact same way that we prep for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, etc.,” he says. “For us that means making sure our inventory levels can support the surge and making sure our pricing is competitive and that we have some amazing deals for the Amazon customer.”

Karen Kang, vice president of communications at electronic accessories retailer Accessory Geeks (No. 863), says Prime Day generated a week-over-week sales boost of 97% in 2015 and 87% in 2016.

Prime Day doesn’t create an increase across all channels because only the retailer’s Amazon sales see a bump, but the Amazon event “is an added day of increased sales in the middle of the year which we otherwise wouldn’t see,” she says.

Countering Prime Day

advertisement

Other retailers have moved to take advantage of the buzz surrounding Prime Day to generate sales on their own sites.

For instance, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (No. 3) in 2015 held a three-day sale that started two days prior to Prime Day. The promotion, a spokesman said at the time, produced the highest volume for same-day pickup of online orders to that point in 2015. Electronics e-retailer Newegg Inc. (No. 21) has run its own FantasTech sales event to coincide with Prime Day the past two years. Kohl’s Corp. (No. 18) and J.C. Penney Co. Inc (No. 33) also have offered competing, multi-day promotions that coincide with Prime Day.

Amazon Marketplace sellers note that Prime Day is a great day to sell inventory at an accelerated pace, especially for goods that may have been sitting in warehouses for a while. For instance, if a seller’s product has received good reviews but hasn’t sold recently on Amazon, then discounting the price and promoting it on Prime Day is a good way to drive sales, marketplace sellers say.

Eddie Levine, president of retailer Wholesale Breakthrough, says a Prime Day 2016 deal for a video game sold out in four hours. That same product would typically take 10-12 months to sell out, Levine says.

In addition to adhering to Amazon’s rules on discounts and inventory for Prime Day, the fee for sellers to participate has increased to $500 this year, up from $300 in 2016 and $150 in 2015.

advertisement

Ride the traffic wave

Marketplace sellers that choose not to run Lightning Deals on Prime Day can still benefit from the high traffic of shoppers the event attracts. Lightning Deals on Amazon are time-sensitive, limited-quantity promotions that are available one per customer until the deal expires or available discounts or products are claimed.

Because Lightning Deals are time-sensitive, Amazon requires merchants that want to participate in them to meet certain requirements, including having those items be Prime eligible and stocked in Amazon’s warehouses for shipment via Fulfillment by Amazon. The products also must have high product star ratings and multiple variations (such as size and color) in stock.

David Rifkin, founder of MPO Global, an e-retailer that sells microfiber products on its own website as well as various marketplaces, says he won’t run deals on Prime Day this year, but did run a deal in 2015.

He says he can benefit from Prime Day without paying Amazon the extra fees it charges for merchants whose products are featured in Lightning Deals. In fact, last year MPO Global did not run any deals on Prime Day and its sales on Amazon nearly tripled compared with an average day. His strategy is this: Discount products and spend money on advertising, such as on Amazon’s pay-per-click campaigns. That way, he can take advantage of the traffic surge on Prime Day without sacrificing as much margin as he would if he paid to participate in Prime Day deals.

advertisement

Fareeha Ali contributed.