Amazon Prime Day gets bigger, longer as retailer hunts for new subscribers

Amazon Prime Day gets bigger, longer as retailer hunts for new subscribers
Prime Day will start on July 16 at 3 p.m. ET and will run for 36 hours instead of the usual 30. The company says it will have 50 per cent more Spotlight Deals and more than one million deals globally.

“In comparison to Cyber Monday or Black Friday, which are much more gift-giving or holiday-focused events, we have deals spanning the entire store,” Jamil Ghani, Inc.’s vice-president of Prime International, said in an interview.

Amazon said for 2018 there will be double the deals on Amazon devices, up to 25 per cent off private labels such as AmazonBasics, up to 50 per cent off popular movies and TV shows, plus a free PC video game every day through July 18.

In addition, there will be new product category sections to browse and deals through Whole Foods, which it purchased last year for nearly US$14 billion.

Prime Day started in 2015 to mark Amazon’s 20-year anniversary but has quickly turned into one of the biggest days of the year for the online retailer. Last year, the promotion hit an estimated US$2.41 billion in global sales, up from US$1.52 billion in 2016, according to research firm Statista.

Prime Day is for members of Amazon’s $79 annual Prime subscription service. Subscribers also receive free shipping on many items and access to digital content such as music, video, gaming and photo storage.

“We give members disproportional value,” Ghani said. “We want them to get multiple of what they pay back in the shipping, shopping and entertainment benefits.”

While Amazon wouldn’t release specific numbers, the company said the number of Canadian Prime Members doubled in the last 18 months and more Canadians have joined in the past 12 months than any other year. The company added that more than a million items were shipped to Canadians last Prime Day.

“We continue to be humbled by the response for Amazon and specifically the response to Prime,” Ghani said. “Canada is geographically really vast, so to be able to offer Canadian members same day or one-day shipping on millions of items is really important for us.”

Canadians are increasing their use of Amazon Prime’s digital benefits such as Prime Video or Prime Music over time too, the company said, though without getting into many specific numbers.

Twitch Prime, Amazon’s gaming benefit that includes ad-free streaming and exclusive content, has seen a six times growth in usage over the last year.

Prime Day is not just about the consumers, Ghani said, but also about the small and medium-sized businesses selling through the retailer. These businesses are featured alongside large brands to help with a “low point of their business cycle” to help bring in cash for inventory and manufacturing for Q4.

For example, Halifax-based Maritime Naturals said it saw a 600 per cent increase of sales last year for Prime Day after offering a discount, with a repeat business rate of 40 to 60 per cent afterward. Meanwhile, the Oakville-based skincare company All Natural Advice said it saw a 150 per cent increase in one-day sales and 40 per cent of new clients became repeat buyers.

More than 40 million items were ordered globally from small and medium-sized businesses last year, Amazon said.

“We recognize that there are important local brands that members enjoy and love, so Prime Day and Prime is a great showcase for those brands,” Ghani said. “We are really committed to helping them grow their business as much as we are to bringing that selection to our members.”

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