An Amazon Prime Primer: Recap of Last Year and What to Expect This Year

Amazon turned 20 last year and Prime members all over the world gathered online for 24 hours and purchased 34.4 million items in celebration. Featuring sales akin to those found on Black Friday, Amazon enticed many people to subscribe to its Prime service for these exclusive deals.

Feedback from the event was mixed. Amazon’s Marketplace sellers came away pleased, with some achieving nearly 300% growth in sales for that day and some completely selling out of their inventory. Many consumers were pleased with their deals and steals, while others came away in frustration over limited inventory and long wait lists. #PrimeDayFail began popping up, with many tweets poking fun at the quirky sale items such as chef hats and packs of gum.

Outside of the Amazon scene, many other retailers attempted to combat Prime day with their own incentives and free shipping. Walmart had a large sale featuring special “rollbacks” and emphasizing the accessibility of its sales to everyone in contrast to Amazon’s required Prime membership. “We just don’t believe you should pay a fee to get a better price,” said Walmart spokesman. Other large retailers including Best Buy, Forever 21, Groupon, and Petco took the opportunity to hold sales as well, capitalizing on the discounts and urgency associated with “Black Friday.” Further, some retailers took a direct approach to combating Prime Day with email subject lines such as "WAY better than Prime Day" from CARBON38.


This year, a similar scene is shaping up for the "biggest global Amazon event ever." Three types of deals will be featured:
  • Spotlight deals - the best deals of the day featuring deep discounts that last until the stock runs out
  • Lightning deals - these sales will be featured for a limited amount of time, indicated by a timer, and have a status bar of how many items have been claimed
  • Savings and sales - these will run all day and discounts will be applied at checkout

Amazon has been offering deals in the days leading up to Prime Day, which officially started at 3am ET this morning. With new deals appearing as frequently as every five minutes, Prime members will be able to track the deals on Amazon’s shopping app. The app is available on the App Store and on Google Play and shoppers can choose which deals they want to "watch" to get notified when it goes live. (You can watch the tutorial video here.) The app and its notifications are a prime example (get it?) of how mobile is increasingly becoming a crucial and undeniable part of a customer's shopping experience.

In response to last year, Amazon has deepened  inventory  and widened  variety to more than 100,000 deals. One of the featured deals will be an attempt to encourage Prime members to buy and use the Echo device. By using the voice-command feature, Alexa, to order a Prime deal, the shopper will receive $10 off of the first purchase of $20 or more. Lastly, Amazon has specifically made a point to mention that a sale that does not appeal to one shopper may be perfect for another, so shoppers should still expect some unusual sales.

The competition is determined not to let Prime Day take over this year, with some retailers beginning sales over the weekend. Walmart is offering free shipping (no membership required) all week and has announced many “rollbacks” for this week in areas of high competition with Amazon, such as technology and electronics. They also won’t miss this chance to feature their “ShippingPass” program, a $49 annual pass for free unlimited two-day shipping to rival Prime. Many other retailers including Target, Gap, Banana Republic, The Limited, Bealls, J.C. Penney, Toys R Us, Sears, and Kohl’s are offering large discounts as well. Best Buy took an obvious swipe at Prime Day by announcing it is offering “Deals for All. No Membership Needed.”

Anticipation will continue to build as many people will sign up for free Prime trials to take advantage of the sales and members will set their alarm clocks for the long-awaited 3am unveiling. We will be live-tweeting throughout the day to keep you updated on the retail landscape as we keep our #EyesOnPrime!

Driving In-Store Traffic this Holiday Season

by Megan Ouellet, Director of Content Marketing. Reach out and say hi to Megan on LinkedIn.

Prime Day is July 12. The annual “Black Friday in July” sale was one of the most lucrative online sales day for Amazon last year, coming within 3% of its actual Black Friday sales numbers. It saw other retailers, like Walmart, jump on board and offer their own Black Friday in July sales. And even more retailers are expected to offer Prime Day sales this year.

Prime Day is the unofficial start to the holiday season, which gets earlier and earlier every year. And as your focus shifts to Q4 and the holidays, there are several strategies you must put in place.

2015 by the Numbers
Total holiday revenue increased 3% to $626.1 billion last year according to the NRF. Despite a 6.4% decline in in-store traffic, in-store sales had a slight revenue increase on 1.7%, fueled by omnichannel marketing and cross-channel engagement. Even though in-store sales had a small increase over 2014, it still accounted for about 85% of total holiday revenue.

Retailers took advantage of every opportunity to drive more customers to their stores, sending emails offering in-store only discounts or inviting customers to special events:

But one trend stood out from all of the others – Buy Online Pickup In Store.

One trend from 2015 that we expect to see even more of this year is BOPIS – Buy Online Pickup in Store – or the similar Buy Online Ship to Store and Buy Online Deliver From Store strategies. Nearly one-third of shoppers took advantage of BOPIS or BOSTS last year; and while picking up their items, 69% of shoppers made an additional purchase. More than half of all retailers offered this click-to-collect option, up 35% from 2014. Those numbers are expected to be even higher this year.

This strategy is the epitome of an omnichannel strategy as it seamlessly allows shoppers to move from your site to your transactional email and/or SMS alerts to your store in a single transaction.

Several things are needed in order to make this experience a seamless one.
  • Online and email local store locators. 
  • Accurate store inventory and clear communication on timing and location of pickups. 
  • Email / SMS notifications for both order confirmation and pickup notifications. 
  • Store associate training on how to handle the merchandise purchased online, how to remove it from the store inventory, where to store it for easy pickup, etc. 
  • If retailer is shipping items to a specific store for pickup or having the store deliver merchandise to customers, processes and training need to be created in order to handle this in an expedited and organized fashion.

Mobile and Social Drive Traffic to Stores
Mobile commerce was the big winner last holiday season with a whopping 59% increase in sales. But it is still a small percentage of total sales as it was only 18% of total digital revenue.

PSFK found that 76% of shoppers interact with a brand before ever setting foot inside a store, with the majority of those interactions happening on a mobile device. Shoppers spend 14% of their total time on their mobile devices in social networks, which definitely influence sales and in-store traffic.

Do your sites do enough to help shoppers find your stores? A simple store locator button on Facebook is a necessity, but many retailers have yet to put this in place. Another tactic to consider is allowing each local store to have its own Facebook page where customers can interact directly with associates and other local shoppers. It might be difficult to relinquish the control from the corporate office, but with training and guidelines in place, this will do wonders to create emotional bonds between customers and associates.

You can also offer the functionality of checking local store inventory of products shoppers find on Instagram, like Nordstrom does:

Your mobile shopping app should also let customers quickly locate local stores, check in-store inventory and provide important information, like where customers can pick up items they purchased online:

This holiday season will be led by personalization, outstanding shopping experiences, mobile devices and seamless omnichannel shopping. Are you ready?

We will soon publish our 2016 holiday strategy guide and we will relaunch our holiday insights center, which will offer even more advice on how you can engage shoppers across multiple channels. But if you have any questions in the meantime, please let us know!

Keep Your Brand in Front of Browsers This Holiday Season

The following post is written by Rachel Peters, a Listrak marketing research intern. Rachel's observations are based on a research study the team is conducting on approximately 200 various mid-market retailers across a number of verticals.   

Holiday strategy planning is upon us! A crucial time of year for retailers, every site visitor offers a connection and conversion opportunity. Many retailers, however, are not fully taking advantage of the opportunity.

Browse abandonment campaigns play an important role in leveraging site traffic. Listrak’s Director of Product Strategy Andrew Rotteveel recently published an article containing research on the significant impacts that browse abandonment campaigns have on average order value, incremental revenue and customer acquisition.

In a recent in-house research project we found that only about half of the mid-market retailers we are studying are utilizing a modal pop-up for email acquisition on-site. Without obtaining an email address to identify and connect with the customer, retailers are missing the opportunity to optimize proven, revenue-driving email campaigns..

Even visitors who do not go so far as to place an item in a shopping cart are still providing retailers with valuable clues about what they are interested in. This is where browse abandonment campaigns come in. Sending personalized messages (like the ones below) to the browser keeps your product in the forefront of their minds, driving traffic (and money) back to your site.

Our research also found that fewer than 8% of retailers have browse abandonment campaigns in place. Looking at the chart below, which is based on Listrak clients who have both shopping cart and abandonment and browse abandonment campaigns, you can see how much revenue these retailers are missing out on: 

As you strive to keep your brand in front of shoppers this holiday season, consider the impact a browse abandonment campaign would have to your bottom line this year and for many years to come as you continue to interact with your browsing customers.

Want to learn more about browse abandonment best practices? Sign up for our webinar here, and be on the lookout for the complete research report packed with insights on modals mobile and more…oh my!

Strategy Guide: Personalize Every Email with Browse Behavior Data