My Review of Amazon’s 20th Anniversary: #PRIMEDAY
Most people heard about the upcoming Amazon Prime Day this July 15th (7-15-2015). Amazon strategically spent resources on a PR front and media blitz to run spot ads promoting the event. However, while it will move the needle for Amazon, it misses the mark on the most important aspect of this day: their Prime Customers.
Let me first share – Happy Anniversary Amazon. Today, it’s their 20th Anniversary. There are many things to celebrate alongside Jeff Bezos and other eCommerce companies. Bezos did eCommerce better than anyone else. He cracked the code first in Books, Music then everything else. Something similar I pitched QVC before I worked for them in 1996 – a show concept I called A to Z. They didn’t like the show idea but liked me to bring me on board. I went to QVC for one reason: to get into eCommerce – a new business venture they were brainstorming and exploring which finally rolled out in stages over the next five years. The early name: iQVC. I fought hard between 1999-2001 to change it to QVC.com and executive management finally came around to agree. Those were the good ole days.
Today’s Amazon 20th Anniversary should have been a statement for eCommerce: to show us how it’s done twenty years later. However, I woke up today to little fanfare or excitement or even reminders – today’s a BIG DAY for retail. So here’s what I’ve taken in and learned about Amazon through #PrimeDay 2015.
1) NO EMAIL REMINDER?
That’s right, nothing to celebrate the day. This should have been a no brainer. You have my email address, I’ve given permission and have opted in for promotions… but I didn’t get an event email.
2) SELF PROMOTION.
Lots of Amazon branded items highlighted in their sale, but that’s where it ends and looks like an everyday event. Oh, you can get their new PrimePantry items (no thanks). And a special PrimeMusic sweepstakes (more on that below).
3) LIGHTENING DEALS.
No, I didn’t come to Amazon to buy a Kindle or Firestick (already have them). The main feature they used to promote their PrimeDay offers is something I visit often: Lightening Deals. That’s where they show items offered for a limited time of limited quantity of specially marked-down items until their either sell out OR time runs out. I bring up a very important issue here: so many items requires a lot of time to sort through these deals.
4) NO PERSONALIZATION.
This may be my biggest disappointment with their 20th Anniversary. At this point in time, I except Amazon to know me, my family (including my kids). They don’t. They have all the data they need to see what I’ve bought (purchase history), what I want (wish list) and what I would likely buy in the future (if they did a good job using big data and look-alike profiles) through personalization. Today, it’s still not present for their sale. They don’t even recommend anything to me. It’s just the standard retail free-for-all.
Same thing, it’s missing. Today’s sale, like Black Friday, feels like Walmart’s $5 DVD bin in the back of the store where I have to spend precious time to *maybe* find something of interest. While the Lightening Deals offers a filter feature to show only the categories I’d like to see, you can still only view them one at a time. Let ME, the customer, the Prime Member (better than a regular customer) – shop smarter! Give me the ability to choose a few categories and display only them.
I also will likely not be back because the future lightening sales are either not populated (you don’t tell me that, I don’t see many future items loaded like you do daily or even on Black Friday).
When I was trying to search through the Lightening Deals, all you showed me Amazon were those claimed or sold out items – some w/ no waitlist. Over 50% were gone – so why can’t I remove them from my view? Seeing an empty shelf in retail is one thing but online I don’t have time to look at empty shelves.
Update (11am 7/15): Between Midnight (12:00am) ET and 10am ET when more than 70% of the U.S. would have awakened with Amazon excitement and checked out their site, 80% of the deals had yet to post. In other words, people lined up outside, doors opened and the rush began only to find junk (well, that’s what we call a failed sale). The shelves had nothing special. No one said – come back later when the sale begins. Why should we expect that was going to be the case?
As of 11am ET, I decided to come back and to my amazement, the store was loaded with deals (over 2000 Prime Exclusives). A merchandising error or oversight? Force everyone to think it starts 7-8am PT and not tell anyone when to come back? I don’t know but at that point, you already lost the east coast Amazon. Shoppers made up their mind – this was a bust.
Yes, this was and is a means of getting new Prime Members. Unfortunately, when you have a large base of customers who have Prime, you need to make it really special for them. The ad spend seems to only support the company goal – getting new revenue from subscriptions that will lead to increase spend from this key buying group.
Yet as a customer who uses Amazon weekly AND has a reward card, you did little for me today. Didn’t make it easier, didn’t give me something I want (or even need) and you turned me away asking why this was bigger than Black Friday.
Shopping is a sport these days. It’s entertainment to many. It is also personal. Amazon needs to relearn the basics: Basic Mobile, Social and Email Marketing, Cross Selling, Personalization, Promotion.
There is a sweet spot in retail when both merchandising and marketing are aligned and hitting all cylinders. Today’s Amazon event gives every retailer HOPE they can beat Amazon on all these other fronts. It appears Amazon is becoming mature like Walmart and other oversized retailers – some past their prime like Sears.
Their Achilles heal is to do it the same way only bigger and not making it better.
Amazon seemed to neglect the aspect of keeping it easy, fun and exciting. A Super Sale requires a Super Shopping Experience.
Amazon, your communication must be engaging. That includes a strategy that includes Pre, Per (during) and Post marketing. Give me something to get excited about (marketing). Give me something to talk about (social). Give me something to buy (sales)!
I am hopeful your post-mortem management meetings will reveal my sentiment and feedback. I fear the simple needle moving will count this as a success. However, as of 10am on July 15, 2015 – you haven’t “knocked it out of the park” (a baseball analogy a day after the MLB Allstar Game and two days after the MLB Homerun Derby).
As of today, I leave your store not impressed. And to set the record straight, I used both your Website and App because I couldn’t believe this was it. I was convinced I missed something. Just pretty celebration banners and landing page creative. Please get back to marketing basics and have your buyers merchandise it better with tools for self-discovery.
Member Since 2000 (maybe earlier)
PrimeMember & Rewards Cardholder
BTW – Happy 20th Anniversary Amazon. Very proud of you and I hope you get better with age!