Did Amazon miss the mark with this year’s Prime Day?

With website issues and suspicious bargains, Prime Day may not have been as big a success as expected.
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Amazon knows how to run a sale. We’ve seen the retailer master Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and PCR has run numerous articles over the years about how smaller retailers can learn from the big boys when it comes to whipping up a shopping frenzy.

However, this year, the retail giant may have missed the mark with its annual Prime Day – a sales event aimed at subscribers of its Prime shopping service.

First off, there were some serious website issues for shoppers. Within minutes of its launch, the Prime Day event run into the worst kind of trouble for an online shopping extravaganza – the landing page stopped working and links sent users to error pages.

Tech Crunch reported that direct product links were working, but customers were reporting errors when trying to complete their orders. 

30 minutes into the event, and TC reported there were still dead pages.

Despite things getting back on track, consumer group Which? chimed in on the first day of the event – which ran for 36 hours across 16th and 17th July – to warn consumers that some of the items on sale were not the bargains they appeared to be.

BBC reported that, according to Which?, some products could actually be bought more cheaply outside the sales event.

“Although these time-limited sales events can offer great discounts, not all offers will be as good as they seem,” said Adam French, Which? consumer rights editor.

“It can be easy to get swept along by the hype and excitement on the day, so we recommend preparing in advance and researching what you want to buy, to make sure you can tell the difference between a good deal and a dud on Amazon Prime Day.”

With the true value of these types of bargain-grabbing events being questioned, Andy Tow, managing director at Retail Marketing Group, commented that lowering prices should not be the key strategy to entice customers in stores at all.

“July used to be a straightforward time for retailers, with shoppers mainly concerned about getting ready for their imminent holiday rather than where their next bargain is coming from. Today, bricks and mortar stores are trying to compete for their share of seasonal shopping, against aggressive online tactics. The huge growth in e-commerce has introduced new phenomena, such as Amazon Prime Day or Christmas in July promotions, to entice customers to buy online rather than in store,” said Tow.

“The combination of low price and online convenience may seem unbeatable, and can force some retailers to adopt radical measures of their own. For example, this year several US stores, including Target and Walmart, have decided to match Prime Day deals in the hope of attracting more shoppers inside. However, physical stores should focus on their key strengths rather than trying to compete with online shops by lowering prices.

“We know that the main reason people go to stores is to touch, feel and try products – successful retailers focus on building a whole sensory experience around the products in order to create meaningful relationships with their customers.

He continued: “The key strategy for bricks and mortar retailers is therefore to engage as many of the senses as possible, ensuring that the sounds, scent and visuals are just right to provide an enjoyable atmosphere with interactive technology and knowledgeable brand ambassadors on hand. Get this right and the ‘Back to School’ season will be a success.”

No doubt Amazon will bounce back from this slight mishap in an otherwise trouble-free series of sales. But perhaps consumers, and other retailers, will see there’s more to buying products than making flash decisions online.

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