It’s Prime Time!

Despite mixed reviews on Amazon's Prime Day, the ecommerce giant is at it again. In case you're not familiar with Prime Day, it's Amazon's very own made-up, shopping holiday in the middle of July.

For Amazon, it serves a few purposes:

  • It encourages more customers to sign up for Amazon Prime, their subscription-based program offering perks such as free shipping and access to free digital content.
  • It cleans out Amazon fulfillment centers, creating shelf space for massive amounts of new inventory that will be ready to ship for the upcoming holiday season (even though it's still several months away).

For customers, it means one thing: Deals, and lots of them!

Prime Day is hyped as offering steep discounts comparable to deals found on Black Friday. Many deals are only available for a limited time or with a limited quantity of an item, which means that bargain hunters are glued to their computers to make sure they don't miss an opportunity. So how can independent retailers take advantage of this made-up holiday? Amazon pours millions of dollars into encouraging consumers to spend money in mid-July, a time of year that is generally uneventful for most retail industries. Here's how you can take advantage of the hype:

  • Plan an in-store event. Prime Day is all about consumers sitting in front of a computer by themselves. It's a great day to give them an excuse to come out and be social. Invite customers to your store for a happy hour or a family fun night. Don't forget free food is always a big draw. Consider teaming up with a local restaurant or food truck to draw a larger crowd, or invite a local radio station to broadcast from your store.
  • Offer limited-time deals. Prime Day is about impulse buys, due to the short time that consumers have to take advantage of a deal. Offer the same in your store, with 30% off men's apparel from 10AM to noon, followed by 25% off all footwear from noon to 2PM, and 40% off accessories from 2PM to 4PM. This gives your customers an excuse to visit your store multiple times in a day, and may encourage customers to shop for items that they may not typically buy in your store.
  • Entice new customers. The key for Prime Day is finding new customers. Offer first-time shoppers a special discount on their first purchase (or a $10 gift card for a future visit) in exchange for joining your email list or liking your Facebook page.
  • Offer free shipping. Amazon offers their customers fast and free shipping. If your store accommodates online ordering, offer free shipping for purchases made that day. If thousands of people are going to be sitting in front of their computer with cash to spend, it's a great opportunity for your store to expand your customer base. Encourage people to shop on your website, especially since it's likely that some of the items in your store aren't sold on Amazon.

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  • Keep the momentum going. Prime Day focuses on generating hype over a limited number of one-time offers. Some people will be happy with deals on Prime Day, but others will walk away empty-handed. Promote a one-day sale the day after Prime Day so anyone who missed out shopping on Amazon can make a purchase in your store. Another option is to finish out the month with a more traditional 'Christmas in July' sale, or tap into some of the promotions for Independent Retailer Month.

If you plan on taking advantage of the hype around Prime Day, a few reminders:

  • Inform your customers. Use your email list, social media channels, traditional print advertising, and store signage to let your customers know about your special events or sales.
  • Staff appropriately. If you are taking the time and effort to bring in new customers and offer special deals, make sure you have the staff to handle the influx of traffic. Welcome customers with a smile, and make sure there is sufficient help on the floor and counter so customers aren't kept waiting. There's nothing worse than bringing a new customer in, only for them to have a poor first-time experience!
  • Follow up. Don't let your customers walk away with a one-and-done purchase! Encourage them to sign up for your mailing list or follow your social media channels, and remind them of upcoming events or sales in your store.

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