Prime Day, Amazon's annual event where it and sellers on the platform discount a huge number of items for a burst of sales activity, is coming to a screen near you. Today, the e-commerce giant announced that Prime Day will run this year on July 12-13.
The U.S., Amazon's home turf, is the company's focus point for this discount bonanza, but like "Black Friday", Prime Day has gone increasingly global over the years, and so Amazon will also be holding Prime Day on the same day in at least 15 other countries, including Canada, China, Brazil, Germany, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands and the U.K.
Prime Day sales will be run in India, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and some other markets later this summer, the company said.
Typically Prime Day is held in summer, a tactic to stir up activity to offset more traditionally sluggish sales activity in that period. However, Amazon had to adjust the schedule for Prime Day for the last two years because of the pandemic. In 2020, it delayed it to October; in 2021, it moved up the date to June.
Prime Day is about boosting sales but it's also about boosting something else: As its name implies, it's one of Amazon's special features reserved for members of Prime, its loyalty club where people pay an extra fee to get free shipping on various items, access to the company's media streaming services and more. Amazon notes that Prime members will get early access to some of the Prime Day deals, ahead of the rest of the consumer pack, from from June 21.
Deals will include discounts on Amazon's own products -- e.g. a 55% discount on its own devices like the Echo Show 5 (2nd Gen), the Echo Show 5 (2nd Gen) Kids, the Kindle Paperwhite and the Halo fitness band; as well as discounts on Fire TV-compatible sets from companies like Insignia, Toshiba and Panasonic, alongside Amazon's own devices.
Other offers Amazon is already announcing include 20% on some Amazon Fresh products and $10 credit for completing tasks like listening to a song, streaming a video and borrowing a book in Prime services, and a chance to win prizes for shopping from small businesses.
It also uses the event to try out some other selling formats.
Starting June 21, Amazon will broadcast live shopping with celebrities like Porsha Williams, Joe and Frank Mele, and Hilary Duff on its website, shopping app and Fire TV. This follows on from last year, when Kristen Bell, Karamo Brown and Mindy Kaling took part in live shopping during Prime Day.
And it's tapping into BNPL to get people clicking a little more. Fintech firm Affirm partnered with Amazon to offer Prime Members a Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) option to split their payments into three installments for purchases of more than $50 made between June 28 and July 11. (As with other BNPL platforms, Affirm's pitch is "interest-free" payments.)
Amazon stakes a lot on Prime Day for its bottom line. It said that last year, it sold more than 250 million items during the sales event, working out to a gross merchandise volume of $9.54 billion. However, to put that into some context, analysts pointed out that yearly growth was low. Part of that is simply the outsized lift that COVID-19 buying patterns provided, followed by the inevitable return to Earth: In 2020, Amazon saw a 54% year-on-year bump in sales for Prime Day, but that figure shrunk to "just" 7% growth in 2021.
Given inflation and the larger pressures we are seeing on consumer spending in the U.S. and elsewhere, it will be interesting to see what 2022 will hold in that context.
Something else to watch: This is the company's first Prime Day after its founder Jeff Bezos stepped down from the CEO position last year. All eyes will be on whether current CEO Andy Jassy will deliver the goods, so to speak.
He's definitely on the move with changes: In the last few months, Amazon has raised the prices of its Prime Service from $12.99 to $14.99 per month, started an invite-only ordering system for items like PlayStation 5 and Xbox, started testing an AR shopping experience and promised to start a drone delivery system in California later this year.
Nevertheless, the company hasn't had the greatest year so far, reporting a $3.84 billion loss in its first-quarter results, with estimates of $116 billion to $121 billion for Q2 sales, coming in below analysts' expectation of $125.5 billion. At the time of writing, Amazon's stock is trading more than 36% down over a year ago. Amazon is also trying to deal with issues like fake reviews and counterfeit products on its platform.
A new report from eMarketer suggests that the U.S. e-commerce market will cross the mark of $1 trillion. However, for the first time, Amazon will see its market share shrink ever so slightly: down to 37.8% from 38% previously. Considering how much rests these days on market chatter, Prime Day results could be the difference between whether Amazon sinks or floats on those words.