Yesterday and today, Amazon.com Inc. offered consumers early access to holiday shopping deals.
During the first 36 hours of the event, some consumers used the Amazon Prime Early Access sales event to get a jump on holiday gift buying. But most said they bought for other reasons. And early results showed the Prime Day sequel generated about the same sales as a regular day during its first eight hours.
According to Chicago-based market research firm Numerator’s survey of 1,025 verified Early Access shoppers, 31% of Prime Early Access shoppers used the sale to purchase holiday gifts. But 51% said they bought items “for myself or my household,” and 14% said they purchased large-ticket items they’d only buy on sale. 21% said they bought gifts for non-holiday occasions and that same percentage said they made purchases of everyday goods they would buy anyway. Respondents could make more than one choice in that part of the survey.
Of those who purchased gifts, 70% said they completed less than half of their holiday shopping. 95% said they will likely shop on Amazon again for additional holiday items in the next three months.
In addition to the survey, Numerator compiled consumer data from its Numerator OmniPanel shopper panel. The shopper panel data covered 19,512 Amazon Prime orders from 9,477 unique households. The shopper panel includes purchasing data from more than 1 million online contributors across 16 retail channels. OmniPanel data is unweighted and is not guaranteed to be representative of the U.S. population, Numerator says.
Amazon.com Inc. is the No. 1 in the 2022 Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000, which ranks the largest North American e-retailers by web sales.
Off to a slow start with cautious consumers
As of 11 a.m. Eastern Time on Tuesday — eight hours into the event — sales were similar to the previous 30-day average, according to Klover, a commerce data platform. Klover uses real-time spending data from 3 million U.S. shoppers. By contrast, spending during the entire Prime Day sale in July was about 40% higher than October’s Early Access Sale, the firm said.
“Usually, it’s off to the races,” Klover CEO Brian Mandelbaum said in an interview with Bloomberg News. “This Prime Day isn’t going to move the needle.”
The Numerator data also indicates shoppers are being cautious. Among those who shopped both the Prime Early Access sale and Prime Day 2022 — held July 12 and 13 — 36% spent more at the Early Access event while 64% spent the same or less. Also, 30% said they waited for the sale to purchase a specific item at a discounted price, while 27% passed on a good deal because it wasn’t necessary. Numerator found that inflation also drove 14% of individuals to look at prices outside of Amazon before buying.
Numerator also says 47% of Early Access shoppers considered only Amazon when making their purchases, while 53% considered other retailers. Most Prime Early Access shoppers (58%) shopped only at Amazon during the Early Access event, but 22% also purchased at another retailer or website.
Elissa Quinby, senior director of retail marketing at Quantum Metric, a digital analytics platform, says inflation is changing consumer behavior.
“Customers are spending more time hunting for lower prices amid inflation. In fact, Quantum Metric found 76% of Americans have cut their spending by a quarter, and 38% have halved their spending this year to better manage their money due to rising costs,” Quinby said. “This means that customers are more inclined to start holiday shopping earlier if they spot better deals, so Christmas shopping in October is likely to become more of a mainstream trend.”
How much — and what — shoppers are buying
During the first 36 hours of Early Access, the average order size was $46.44, Numerator reported. Nearly half (49%) of households shopping the Early Access sale have placed two or more separate orders already, bringing the average household spending to roughly $95.62. Meanwhile, 44% of orders were $20 or less, and 3% of orders were $200 or more.
“In the first 36 hours of the Prime Early Access Sale, we saw an average order size of $46,” said Amanda Schoenbauer, a Numerator analyst. “For Prime Day, the order size was closer to $60. It appears that Prime Early Access shoppers are spending less and focusing on affordable gift categories like toys and games and apparel rather than electronics and smart home devices, which are Prime Day staples.”
The average price per item was $30.45. Just 4% of items were $100 or more. 57% of items cost $20 or less.
Numerator says the top five items, based on units purchased were:
- Amazon Photos Projects (users create prints from photos on their Amazon Photos accounts)
- Amazon gift cards
- Melissa & Doug brand toys
- Amazon Essentials women’s apparel
- Echo Dot 3rd Generation
What retailers should do now
Quinby at Quantum Metric says this is a good time for retailers to go beyond merely offering discounts to shoppers.
“While flash sales and store-wide promotions are a tried-and-true approach, shoppers also demand a highly tailored experience,” she says. “This includes offering unique promotions that align with their purchasing behaviors and preferences. For some, this might mean a free shipping code since the shopper rarely goes in-store, while others might get a 10% off discount to place a curbside order.”
In addition to discounts, Quinby adds, retailers must ensure they’re making it as easy for customers to shop with them as possible, such as personalized product recommendations.
“It’s far cheaper to retain a customer than it is to attract a new one,” Quinby said. “To build shopper loyalty — especially while other brands offer their own sales and promotions — retailers should consider website and app upgrades to improve design.”
Gretchen Salois and Bloomberg News contributed to this report.
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