A Closer Look at Amazon Prime Day 2018


Hype is in the air for Prime Day IV, tentatively bookmarked for July 16 according to an accidental (or maybe not-so-accidental) leak from Amazon UK.

With Prime Day performance reports getting bolder and more complex every year, Amazon’s self-created flash holiday has become an apex event on the retail calendar for two primary reasons: it’s great for shoppers (thanks to a flurry of discounts), as well as a golden opportunity for marketers to tap into an extra boost of organic traffic.

To help understand Amazon’s annual sell-a-thon, let’s take a look at trends over the past three years of Prime Day.

Amazon Prime Day 2015

Sales: $0.9B*

Most popular items: Fire TV Stick, Fire Tablet, Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy, Bose Headphones

Key takeaways: In its first year, Prime Day outperforms Black Friday in terms of sales

Official press release

Amazon Prime Day 2016

Sales: $1.52B*

Most popular items: TechMatte Smartphone Car Mount, Instant Pot Multi-Cooker, Oral-B Pro 6000 Electric Toothbrush

Key takeaways:

  • There were glitches with checkout, resulting in frustrated shoppers and lost sales
  • Fire TV Stick was Amazon’s best-selling device globally

Official press release

Amazon Prime Day 2017

Sales: $2.51B*

Most popular items: Echo Dot, Echo, Kindle and Fire Tablets, Instant Pot Multi-Cooker, Element 55-inch 4K Ultra HD Smart TV

Key takeaways:

  • 4 Million new Prime subscribers signed up for a free 30-day trial
  • Sales were up 60% and orders surged 50% over the previous year
  • More than 3.5 million toys were purchased by customers worldwide on Prime Day 2017
  • Coincidentally, Toys R Us folded less than a year later.

Official press release

*Sales stats by Statista

Prime Day In Context

Looking at the snapshot above, it’s important to keep in mind that, regardless of how customers, brands, and sellers react, Prime Day is Amazon’s holiday. There’s no fixed date, which makes it difficult for Amazon’s competitors to counter-offer on the same day (unless you believe that the leak was intentional).

Year over year, Amazon diversifies the spoils — Prime Day is never about one thing, which is clear when looking at the highlights of past years. In many ways, the retail giant’s holiday is a good indicator for where manufacturers and shoppers alike are spending their money.

In short, Prime Day is also what you make of it.

What We’re Watching

In 2018, we expect to see more of the same: lots of promotional pricing and deals, a variety of record-breaking figures (Alexa-enabled products sold, orders shipped, etc.), and a long list of winners and losers. A question that we’ve been asked a lot at this point is “how can a brand get ready for Prime Day and take advantage of the occasion?”

The short answer: don’t think of Prime Day in isolation from every other strategy and touchpoint you’ve been developing all year long. Think of it as an opportunity to bring it all together for a single moment when you can push traffic from everywhere (social, web, email) to Amazon.

Low Price Bonanza

Promotions can be useful, but don’t depend on Amazon alone to drive all of the eyeballs your brand wants on the big day. Use your network of communications tools to help drive off-Amazon traffic to your key listings, and be very selective about what you’re promoting.

A unified inbound marketing approach is what wins this day for brands — not liquidation prices and the hope that they’ll be seen on the front page. They probably won’t. Every single example of top sellers in years past had intentional strategies leading into Amazon, reinforcing the overall value of the opportunity.

Promotion Fever

Leveraging Amazon’s promotional and sales tools on Prime Day can help you move through aging inventory without giving the appearance of a “fire sale.” But expect the bids on big keywords to be very high with plenty of competition in the foreground of every search. Also, with a massive surge in organic traffic expected, it’ll be listings that are naturally on top of the search rankings, supported by strong off-Amazon content, that come out ahead in the long term.

For more on Amazon promotions, read Amazon Programs: What Brands Should Be Considering.