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Amazon creates ‘Prime Day’ to boost subscriptions

BY Mike Troy

SEATTLE — Amazon’s latest gambit to encourage shoppers to buy a $99 Prime membership and goose second quarter sales involves the creation of quasi-holiday called “Prime Day.”

Amazon said it was introducing a new global shopping event called Prime Day on July 15 to commemorate its 20th anniversary. To celebrate the company said it will be offering more deals than on Black Friday for those who pay the $99 annual fee to belong to the Prime free-shipping program.

Throughout the day, Prime members in the U.S., U.K., Spain, Japan, Italy, Germany, France, Canada and Austria will be served a steady diet of promotional offers and Amazon.com’s special features called Lightning Deals and Deals of the Day.

“Prime Day is a one-day only event filled with more deals than Black Friday, exclusively for Prime members around the globe. Members tell us every day how much they love Prime and we will keep making it better,” said Greg Greeley, vice president Amazon Prime. “If you’re not already a Prime member, you’ll want to join so you don’t miss out on one of the biggest deals extravaganzas in the world.”

To make it easy to participate, the company is offering a free 30-day Prime trial in hopes shoppers will get hooked on a service that now goes well beyond free two-day shipping on 20 million items. More recently, the service has been expanded to offer free same day delivery in 14 metropolitan areas.

Content is also a key part of the Prime value proposition with members receiving unlimited streaming of tens of thousands of movies and TV episodes, more than one million songs, more than one thousand playlists, hundreds of stations with Prime Music and unlimited photo storage in Amazon Cloud Drive with Prime Photos.

The most recent Prime development involves the introduction of Prime Now one-hour delivery service, for an additional fee, in Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Brooklyn, Dallas, Manhattan, Miami and London. To get current users talking about the service, part of Prime Day involves a social media component and a contest. Prime members are being given a chance to win a $10,000 gift card by participating in the #PrimeLiving photo contest.

The premise is that Prime members will share some of their happy moments that are reflective of time savings, convenience and access to a broad assortment of merchandise that Prime offers. Members sign into Prime Photos between July 6 and July 15 to submit a photo on the contest page amazon.com/primeliving. Photos will be selected and featured daily on Amazon’s social channels leading up to Prime Day.

One winner will be selected in each country based on the image that most creatively captures a happy moment of #PrimeLiving.

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Walmart Canada launches grocery pickup option

BY Dan Berthiaume

MISSISSAUGA, Canada – Walmart Canada is looking to extend its omnichannel grocery experience.

Starting on July 7, customers will be able to place online grocery orders for select product, including fresh food, for pickup in six stores in the Ottawa area. An additional five stores will offer the service starting on July 21. The pickup fee is $3 and customers will be able to order up to 21 days in advance.

"Among the top priorities for Canadian consumers are saving time and saving money,” said Simon Rodrigue, senior VP, e-commerce, Walmart Canada. "Walmart is committed to making the lives of our customers better by helping them do both. By expanding our online offering to include fresh foods at Walmart's low prices for pickup in-store, we are delivering on that promise. We want to make it easy for customers to order their groceries at home, work or while waiting at the doctor's office so they can enjoy our unbeatable prices while saving a ton of time."

Wal-Mart started piloting a similar service in the U.S. in February 2015 and put it into widescale rollout the following month.

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New study underscores importance of retailers’ social media activity

BY Dan Berthiaume

DALLAS — A retailer’s social media activity has a greater impact on shoppers than the company’s website.

That’s one of the findings of the Digital Shopping Tool Impact Study 2015 from marketing technology provider Epsilon. The platform shoppers cite as most influential to their shopping decisions is Facebook, although Pinterest and Google+ are strong contenders.  

Twitter is much less influential in the shopping process overall, but millennials state that it is quite influential for them. Social media in general is even more influential with millennials than it is with Boomers.

This year, as in the past several years, shoppers point to shopping apps as the tool most likely to improve their shopping experience, by facilitating the process and making them feel like a “smart shopper.” Shopping app activities include creating a shopping list, looking for coupons, checking inventory in-store, checking competitive pricing and reading product reviews.

More than any other tool, when shoppers discuss using shopping apps, they talk about them in the context of going to the store or being at the store. Additionally, the study shows that the shopping apps most often used by consumers are those that belong to a specific retailer, rather than a brand or third-party.

When it comes to coupons, the research shows that downloading and printing coupons is still a fairly universal phenomenon and one that shoppers continue to find rewarding and influential. Forty-two percent of millennials report using paper coupons, compared to 60% of Boomers. Of those shoppers using printable coupons, Millennials are even more likely than Boomers to say the coupons influenced them to buy products they hadn’t planned, to try new products and to choose one store over another.

In addition, the ethnographies uncovered a completely new shopping behavior, driven by millennials and their use of digital coupons. In these shopper journeys, the study found that shoppers are first finding the item they want to buy and then searching to find a specific coupon to apply to the purchase.

Epsilon conducted an online study of more than 2,800 consumers, along with in-depth interviews and discussion boards with over 50 shoppers, measuring the usage and influence of 16 different digital shopping tools.

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