Yesterday might have only marked the third Amazon Prime Day, but the sales bonanza has rapidly established itself in the retail calendar.
The etail titan’s self-created sales festival netted it a whopping $2.5bn last year – and noises from the business yesterday indicated it was on course to smash that record.
While it can currently only dream of being as big a beast as Alibaba’s $17.8bn Singles’ Day, there’s no doubt that Amazon has manufactured demand during a quieter time of the year.
But is Amazon Prime Day worth all that hype?
Amazon Prime vice-president Greg Greeley boasted ahead of the event that members would find “hundreds of thousands of deals on everything they’re into.”
Yet, as a £79-a-year Prime subscriber myself, the promotional push left me feeling less like a valued Amazon customer, and more of a short-changed pawn in its customer acquisition game.
That’s because, to put it bluntly, Amazon designed the day with one beneficiary in mind – not the customer, but itself.
Disappointing and underwhelming
Deals on popular but non-essential technology and electricals that I, like many others I’m sure, had been considering purchasing for a few weeks such as wireless headphones, a soundbar and a new sat-nav, were virtually non-existent.
There were discounts on one style of Beats by Dre headphones, in a rather ghastly colour that Amazon presumably had struggled to shift, while the remaining offers in the category were on obscure, little-known brands that I assume paid for the privilege of being part of Prime Day.
”There were deals on DVD box sets – yes, DVDs”
It was a similar tale when it came to soundbars and sat navs – disappointing and underwhelming.
Instead, there were deals on DVD box sets – yes, DVDs – video games that had been released last year, tablet stands and some out-of-season apparel.
And, most importantly for Amazon, it launched its “lowest ever price” on its voice-activated Echo device, in a bid to tempt more consumers into its growing eco-system of subscribers – a strategy that worked, based on surging sales of the product yesterday.
Desperate to shift?
I should admit at this point that my partner snapped up an electronic toothbrush at practically half price – one of the very few genuine deals we spotted on established and trusted brands – and the Harry Potter movie collection on Blu ray, which she will, I hasten to add, be watching alone.
They were the diamonds, if you can stretch to call them that, among the rough.
“Let’s face it, Jeff Bezos is a smart enough guy not to have bulk ordered the complete Fawlty Towers box set on DVD especially for Prime Day”
A clutch of worthwhile purchases of this ilk were surrounded by thousands of other deals on what felt like leftover stock that Amazon was desperate to shift from its warehouses.
Let’s face it, Jeff Bezos is a smart enough guy not to have bulk ordered the complete Fawlty Towers box set on DVD especially for Prime Day.
It was the presence of such products that gave Prime Day the hallmarks of a car boot Sale for the millennial.
But consumers aren’t stupid – they quickly saw through Black Friday offers on Blaupunkt TVs to realise that many of the deals they were getting weren’t all they were cracked up to be.
Unless Amazon rethinks its approach to Prime Day, its own sales extravaganza could soon be tarred with a similar brush.