Amazon Prime Day 2019: Five ways to beat Amazon at its own game

In the past five years, every time Amazon mutters the words “Prime Day” the world goes into overdrive. Customers log on, buy and brag to their friends about their bargains. Meanwhile, retailers pull together cost-cutting sales to keep up.

This year, Amazon has announced that its fifth annual Prime Day will run on July 15-16 (for the first time, it’s a 48 hour affair).

Profitero found that 76% of US Prime members are planning to shop during the event, compared to  63% last year. Likewise, Bazaarvoice found that nearly one-in-five shoppers surveyed plan to have an average basket size of $300 on Prime Day, and 60% plan to spend more than $100.

But, what does this “summertime Black Friday” mean for merchants like you?

Steve Barr, PwC’s consumer markets leader, said: “For retailers, you either pay to play, or lose short-term sales”. He believes that if a retailer doesn’t get involved, they’ll push customers away. So much so, that they’ll lean in favour of Amazon instead.

Alice Foumier, Vice President of ecommerce and digital at Kantar Consulting, also warned that Prime Day is now “more of a loyalty play”. Amazon is using the event to make its Prime members feel special and to attract new customers to sign-up.

But, it’s clear to see that Prime Day is no longer just about Amazon – it’s become bigger than that. It’s transformed into an event where merchants everywhere can attract new customers and nurture them into long-term loyal followers.

Nearly a third of shoppers have admitted that they intend to shop around for deals at other online retailers on Prime Day. To compete, big-players are also launching flash sales. eBay has announced it’s “crashing the Prime Day party” with a huge summer sale and Target is offering “Deal Days” to rival Amazon.

To prepare ahead of Prime Day, we’ve thought up some ways you can beat Amazon at their own game. 

Convince customers of better subscription alternatives

Numbers show that Prime subscriptions are slowing. Keith Anderson, VP of Strategy and Insights at Profitero, even stated: “If Prime Day is all about getting people to try out Prime, [it’s] not working”.

But while the interest in Prime is fading, the subscription market continues to boom. Some estimate that it will be worth £1 billion by 2022. Customers are getting a taste of the convenience of having everything – from beauty boxes to dog treats – delivered directly to their door.

Use the period around Prime Day to persuade customers that there are more rewarding subscriptions out there. Start by luring new and curious shoppers in with attractive introductory discounts and the promise of long-term VIP treatment if they subscribe to you.

For example, Ancient Nutrition gifts customers 50 points for signing up to their loyalty program. They then encourage customers to become a “Subscribe & save member” with exclusive rewards that are not available to regular members – such as double rewards on all purchases and early access to new products.

Dr Axe Subscriber Tier
Similarly, make-up brand, Velour Lashes, has an “Auto-Restock” tier for members who are subscribed. These customers get VIP perks (including free shipping and a personal “Velour Lash Book”) as well as a $20 gift card.

Velour Lashes

These exclusive perks show customers a differentiated subscriber service to what Prime offers. And, as a result, encourages customers to sign up.

It’s not all about deal-seeking

It’s not surprising that customers will be scouting out deals on Prime Day. In fact, 53% of shoppers say that price is the number one reason they make a purchase over the event.

Because of this expectation, it’s easy to feel like you need to cut costs to keep up. But remember: customers drawn in by discounts are rarely loyal.

Cut through the noise this Prime Day by taking the high-ground when it comes to discounting. Instead, offer value to your customers.

Start by harnessing your loyalty data to serve up personalised perks unique to each customer. Try rewarding them extra loyalty points on an item related to their previous purchases or remind them that they have loyalty points waiting to be spent.

And, don’t forget to tell customers about these personalised offers. Send loyalty emails that have snappy subject lines that jump out in the inbox. Farmacy Beauty, for example, has used the subject line, “For VIPs Only: 20% Off Sitewide” in loyalty email blasts.

Farmacy Beauty Email

Loyalty emails perform 14 times better than regular marketing emails because they hold intrinsic value to the customers. Meanwhile, they maintain a personal touch. Sure, Amazon is sophisticated when it comes to recommended products, but their content and communications lack emotion. By using personalisation to your advantage this Prime Day, your brand will shine in the influx of generic discounts.

Use Prime Day to acquire customers and keep them

Shoppers will be active on Prime Day – that’s guaranteed. What’s vital, however, is how you engage these first-time visitors and transform them into loyal, repeat purchasers once the sale frenzy is over.

This Prime Day, try and encourage one-time shoppers who are landing on your site to sign up to your loyalty program. Sign up perks usually do the trick as customers will see the immediate value of joining. For example, Abbott Lyon offers 200 points to new members.

Abott Lyon Welcome Email

Once a customer becomes a member of your loyalty program, they’re showing they want to hear from you. After Prime Day has passed, show these customers that you value and appreciate them with VIP perks and ongoing conversations. Beauty Bakerie sends regular point update emails and Pacifica Beauty sends loyal customers updates on future sales and new products.

Pacifica Perfume Sale
Beauty Bakerie 3 Copy
By keeping the lines of communication open, your newly acquired customers will remember you and return to you long after Prime Day has passed.

Personality over price

Low prices and free shipping are why customers shop on Prime Day. But that’s not what keeps them loyal.

Loyalty is built on emotion. In fact, 65% of customers have stated that they buy on the basis of their beliefs. That’s exactly why it’s important to show how you are emotionally aligned with your customers.

Stand out this Prime Day by celebrating your personality and show-off your humanising qualities. Where Amazon can offer a lot in terms of price and logistics, the brand still comes across as lifeless as they don’t have a distinct personality they can own.

A loyalty program is a great place to show who you are. Lucy and Yak use their full-page loyalty program to show photos of their customers wearing their products. This celebrates the brand’s fun-loving personality.

Lucy And Yak
By showing how you’re different, you’ll leave a lasting impression on like-minded shoppers. And, as a result, they’ll return to you over the competition and tell others about you.

Offer a helping hand

For all of Prime Day’s benefits, it also has pitfalls. Last year, Amazon’s website crashed just minutes into the big day. And, this year, there are rumours of strikes across the US as warehouse workers report unsafe working conditions.

The rush of Prime Day could bring some troubles your way. But what will make you stand out is how you deal with the issues. It’s reported that 81% of shoppers will interact with a business again if they receive good service – so make yours a priority this Prime Day.

Start by connecting your help desk with your loyalty program to elevate your customer service approach. Then, if customers experience troubles on Prime Day, respond with a sincere apology and a gift of loyalty points to say sorry.

Responding to these problems with a difference will set you apart. Your customers will appreciate that you care about them on a personal level – rather than letting them get lost in a customer queries database.

Time to reach your prime

Amazon Prime Day is transforming. Rivals are joining in and deals are already launching from every retail corner.

This year, beat Amazon at its own game by going against the norm, staying true to yourself and make your customers feel special. After all, it’s the customers that you forge emotional bonds with that trust your brand, return to you and tell their friends about your store.

Want to learn more engaging strategies to hook customers after one-off seasonal events? Listen to our webinar with Klevu, dotdigital and Shopify Plus where we explore how to retain new customers and secure purchases post-holidays.

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