Croud’s review of Amazon Prime Day 2021

So that’s it… Amazon Prime Day 2021 is officially over! So what can we take away from the big event? Croud’s Amazon experts have conducted a review exploring some of the key trends and insights from the two-day long promotion.

For the third year in a row, Amazon ran their biggest promotional event over a 48-hour window – up from the single day event they ran when they first launched Prime Day back in July 2015. Open to all retailers across all available markets, this annual event is a great opportunity for brands to offer competitive promotions and boost online revenue. Plus, it allows Amazon to drive sales and secure more Prime memberships.

Last year, we saw a 45% increase in Prime Day sales from 2019. While the retail space has already been shifting towards ecommerce over the last few years, the global pandemic has undoubtedly accelerated this move towards digital, and subsequently drove increased revenue during last year’s Prime Day event. In 2020, Prime Day also took place in October instead of the usual July timeframe. This change in dates most likely impacted sales, as October is typically a time when seasonal purchases start to emerge and brands begin to prepare for the holiday season.

Sellers and vendors who had planned ahead for the big event had the opportunity to offer a range of promotions and discounts in an effort to drive more sales, increase market share and acquire new customers. However, there was also a degree of uncertainty leading up to this year’s event due to its earlier June date, as well as the unpredictable recent trends we’ve seen across different markets driven by outside factors, such as lockdown measures and weather.

Was it as big as we expected?

Whilst this year’s Prime Day marked yet another record-breaking event, bringing in an estimated $11.2bn in sales according to Digital Commerce 360, the annual event didn’t see the huge uplift in sales that we have come to expect. According to another study by Marketplace Pulse, Prime Day 2021 only grew by 5-10% in comparison to last October’s event.

Source: Marketplace Plus

Nevertheless, for brands that participated and ran Prime Day deals (or other types of promotions, such as lightning deals), we’ve seen some impressive sales performance. Even the brands that didn’t offer deals saw a boost in traffic and sales, but to a much lesser extent.

Amazon’s promotion of Prime Day felt a little more low key this time around, but early indications show there was plenty of awareness amongst deal hungry shoppers. Ultimately, a great number of retailers were successful in reaching many valuable new-to-brand shoppers.

How did performance compare against Prime Day 2020?

This year, we observed some notable gains, especially for brands that participated and ran Prime Day deals for the first time ever.

When comparing day one versus day two of the event, we found that most brands’ traffic and sales were either flat or down on the second day. While this disparity was driven a lot by the differing deals offered on each day, it also reinforces the importance of visibility from the start (or day one) of the event! Hourly purchase patterns were fairly consistent year-over-year (YoY), with sales peaking during the early morning and late evening hours of the day. These hourly patterns were even more pronounced on day two:

Sales breakdown on day one (Monday):

(combined sales across US clients)

Sales breakdown on day two (Tuesday):

(combined sales across US clients)

Did performance vary by sector and market?

From reports conducted across all retailers who ran activity over Prime Day 2020, we saw an overall increase in sales, with some sectors like electronics seeing a greater uplift than others:

When comparing sales growth by market, our US clients led the way, with the UK and Germany (DE) not too far behind:

Although the event proceeded as normal in most parts of the world, Prime Day was unexpectedly cancelled in Canada due to the shut down of many fulfilment centres as a result of Covid-19. Amazon has not yet disclosed if the event has been completely cancelled for this year, or if it will simply be delayed to a later date – many believe it will be the latter.

What could have been better?

Whilst everyone within the Amazon division at Croud was of course fully up to speed on all things Prime Day in the run-up to the big event, we found that, after speaking with a number of general consumers, many people were not fully aware that Prime Day was taking place! Maybe people were too preoccupied with the UEFA European Football Championship or perhaps Amazon could have done more to build awareness and hype around the event. The fact that Amazon typically waits until just a couple of months before Prime Day to disclose the date of the event probably doesn’t help with awareness around the big sales day. Also, given that Prime Day landed in October last year, many people were probably unaware of the event’s earlier date this year.

Another key observation we had was that a number of promotional products weren’t necessarily available for next-day delivery, which many Prime Day users would have expected:

Prime Day example

According to a number of forums, it appears that this has become quite a common issue amongst shoppers over the past few Prime Days, and even more so this year, which may have knocked consumer confidence around the perks of the event.

So what did we think overall?

As expected following the trends we’ve been seeing this year on Amazon ads, costs per click (CPCs) increased by at least 30% during Prime Day, suggesting that more retailers are trying to make the most of this key trading period. The uplift in conversion rate and sales during this time do appear to offset the CPC inflation. However, as always, you need to ensure that a thorough profitability analysis has been carried out beforehand to understand how much of a price cut you should be offering consumers.

Prime Day was another opportunity to realise the importance of getting campaigns set up and running at least two weeks before the event. It can take up to 48 hours to get approved by Amazon (especially for Sponsored Brands), and there’s a risk that they could be rejected for any reason. This means that the approval process could be longer and your campaigns might not be able to run the day of the event.

Lastly, don’t forget that Prime Day is not only an opportunity for established products, but it’s also a great chance to build awareness and sales velocity for your newer, lesser-known product launches. As well as getting more eyeballs on new products, the extra sales you can drive during peak events can really boost your product sales rank and review count quickly. The example below shows one of Croud’s clients, Flor De Cana, who have recently launched Spresso in the UK market. Croud’s Amazon experts leveraged Prime Day to help them to build the content and advertising strategy for this launch. Prime Day was a great opportunity to build new awareness and sales velocity for this.

All in all, this year’s Prime Day revealed many new lessons and insights for us to leverage in years to come. If you’d like to learn more about how to prepare for future Prime Day events or how to build a successful Amazon marketing strategy, please feel free to get in touch with our team of digital experts.

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