A number of merchants will offer sales with deep promotions on Amazon Prime Day to capitalize on consumers in a buying mood. With Prime Day moved to October, shoppers may kick off their holiday shopping earlier than ever.

Amazon’s sixth-annual Prime Day will be Oct. 13-14, and retailers are capitalizing on the influx of consumers shopping online with their own sales. Retailers including Target Corp. (No. 12 in the 2020 Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000), Walmart Inc. (No. 3), Kohl’s Corp. (No. 21), 1-800-Flowers.com Inc. (No. 64), QVC (owned by Qurate Retail Group, No. 9), Overstock.com In. (No. 42), Shop.com (owned by Market America Worldwide Inc., No. 65), Office Depot Inc. (No. 21), SmileDirectClub Inc. (No. 83), and Liingo Eyewear (owned by 1-800 Contacts Inc., No. 92) all announced they are having a sale during Amazon’s Prime Day.

 

Amazon’s Prime Day event features deals from marketplace sellers and deals on many of Amazon’s own products, such as smart speakers, and is a vehicle for Amazon to sign up more shoppers for its $119 per-year Prime membership program. Prime Day deals are only available to Prime members. During previous Prime Day sales, a number of retailers offered promotions on their own sites and received a bump in sales from consumers browsing. This year is no different with retailers large and small all having promotions during the 48-hour period in hopes of capturing a ripple effect of shoppers.

During Prime Day 2019, 25% of shoppers said they made an online purchase from Walmart, 15% Target, 10% eBay and 7% Best Buy, according to a Digital Commerce 360 survey of 606 shoppers in July 2019. Plus, ecommerce platform and software provided Salesforce.com Inc. estimates that non-Amazon retailers boosted their online sales 37% during Prime Day 2019 compared with Prime Day 2018.

This year, both Target and Walmart announced large sales during Prime Day that will offer deep discounts, with Walmart’s Big Sale event Oct. 11-15 and Target Deal Days Oct. 13 and 14.

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Target promotes its Deal Dales on the same days as Amazon Prime Day.

1-800-Flowers.com Inc. is taking a page from Amazon’s book and using its sale Oct. 5-11 to drive more consumers to sign up for its paid membership program. Shoppers can join for $19.99 that week, less than the usual $29.99, and new members receive a $10 gift card toward their next purchase, says CEO Chris McCann.

Mass merchant Shop.com has never offered a sale during Prime Day but decided this year to keep riding a positive sales trajectory in 2020, says chief digital marketing officer Peter Gold. “Sales and revenue, new customers and repeat purchases have gone through the roof since March so we want to continue to push ecommerce as we don’t operate physical stores,” Gold says. “We’ll take our piece of the pie.”

Prime Day in October pushes up holiday shopping

Typically, Amazon hosts its Prime Day sale in July but delayed it this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Because Prime Day will only be 44 days before Black Friday, many analysts believe that consumers will be shopping for holiday gifts during the October sales event. Plus, Amazon revealed its holiday gift guide Oct. 5.

This means Amazon stands to grab even more holiday sales than ever. Even before Amazon announced the dates for Prime Day, already 48% of consumers said they were planning to buy half or more of their holiday gifts at Amazon.com, according to a Digital Commerce 360 and Bizrate Insights survey of 1,000 online shoppers in September 2020. Plus, 26% of consumers say they plan to spend more of their holiday purchases on Amazon compared with last year.

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Many consumers have not waited for Prime Day to start holiday shopping, with nearly 40% of shoppers saying they will have already started by the end of October, according to the survey.

Retailers are eager to spread out the holiday demand, as many merchants are struggling with inventory and fulfillment delays because of continued elevated online sales due to the coronavirus pandemic. These challenges are likely to only increase as the busy shopping period draws closer.

“There’s a really compelling event smack dab in front of us, and retailers will create artificial demand to pull that shopping earlier in the season to ensure the product is actually available and they have the means to get it to the consumer or have the consumer get to them,” says Rob Garf, Salesforce’s vice president of industry strategy and insights for retail and consumer goods.

A number of retailers plan to offer promotions on Prime Day that will be similar to their Thanksgiving weekend promotions. SmileDirectClub, for example, says its promotions are in line with Black Friday and Cyber Monday offers and its holiday promotions will kick off on Amazon Prime Day, says Amy Keith, president of retail at SmileDirectClub.

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“We expect sales to be more spread out given new shopping habits,” Keith says.

We anticipate shopping to start earlier than usual and maintain for a longer period of time.
Dave Nielsen, president of Overstock Retail

In fact, retailers, including Target, say they will have “Black Friday pricing” throughout November in an effort to spread out holiday shopping and not having crowds in stores—a concern for consumers during the coronavirus pandemic.

Target touts—in an obvious jab to Amazon—that its deals are available to all consumers without a paid membership.

“This year, in a holiday season unlike any other, we know it’s more important than ever for our guests to get great deals in a convenient and safe shopping environment,” says Christina Hennington, executive vice president and chief merchandising officer at Target. “By kicking off our holiday deals earlier than ever, offering Black Friday pricing throughout the full month of November, and extending our Price Match Guarantee, we’re letting guests know they don’t need to wait or face the crowds to get the best deals, all with no membership fees required.”

Kohl’s—which is having a four-day sale called “WOW Week” during the Prime Day sale—also expects holiday sales to creep into October. “We expect many customers to get ahead of their holiday shopping and increasingly leverage our digital and omnichannel capabilities,” says a Kohl’s spokesman. “We are making adjustments to drive and capture anticipated early holiday demand beginning in October across all of our channels.”

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Although shoppers are likely starting their holiday shopping earlier this year, Dave Nielsen, president of Overstock Retail, predicts Black Friday and Cyber Monday will still be some of the strongest online shopping days for the season.

“It’s difficult to predict what sales will look like for any single day or season, especially in a year like 2020,” Nielsen says. “Yet historically, Black Friday and Cyber Monday have been strong sale days. Taking into consideration shipping delays and the fact that some brick-and-mortar retailers aren’t opening on Thanksgiving Day, we anticipate shopping to start earlier than usual, and maintain for a longer period of time.”

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