Amazon Prime Day is back - how the brand can avoid falling victim to its own success

It's that time of year again - Amazon Prime Day returns, writes Matthew Knight, head of strategic innovation at Carat.

After last year’s celebration of Amazon’s 20th birthday yielded a day to rival Black Friday, the second Amazon Prime Day is hotly anticipated – both by consumers ready to snag a deal and, presumably, Amazon’s accountants, too.

Last year was reportedly a lackluster affair with many a social mention about Prime Day deals being on less than "premium" or desirable products. There was the story of the $1,000 oil drum of lube you’ll no doubt remember, but also generally a sense of distressed inventory being flogged at yard-sale prices. 

This may simply have resulted from Amazon falling victim to its own success. Some products allegedly ran off the shelves in a matter of seconds, leaving the long tail of less desirable products remaining.

Still, the commercial benefit of creating an owned shopping holiday in an otherwise generally quiet time of the retail year is clear. Indeed, Walmart is responding by offering free shipping for the whole week. Yet in order to cement Prime Day as a recurring retail event that shoppers get genuinely excited about, Amazon now needs to ensure that significant availability of demanded products is maintained.

If I were in charge of Amazon Prime Day, here are the three things I would do for future Prime Days:

Personalize

Prime Day feels a little like a giant shop floor without curation. Amazon sits on a huge wealth of personalized behavior and commerce data that could be used to personalize the experience for each consumer and naturally manage stock levels and expectation.

For example, I’d love to see an "Amazon Prime Day Store for Matthew," probably containing a brand new coffee grinder, an Amazon Echo, and lots of discounted Lego products.

Go beyond boxed products

Amazon Prime Day could be so much more than just shopping; it could become an experience altogether. Imagine live music, content premieres, surprise Prime Now deliveries, or local events that pick up on the local cultural nuances.

Let Alexa order

For just one day, imagine allowing your Amazon Echo to order anything it hears you mention, regardless of what it is. You talk about a caravan; it’ll arrive at 5 p.m. You mention Alexander Skarsgard; he’ll come around for dinner. Hand your shopping decisions over to the "bots."

Okay, maybe we’re not ready for the last suggestion just yet, but as Amazon grows its offering beyond physical products into content, fresh foods, on-demand deliveries, and connected home services, it’s not a stretch to imagine Amazon playing a larger role in our lives beyond retail.

We’ll increasingly trust the platform with making decisions for us (i.e. subscriptions to products based upon price not brand; AI-informed recommendations; and automated replenishment services).

And if there is one thing absolutely certain about Amazon, it’s that it learns from innovation (whether successful or not), and iterates smarter services to move forward, which is why I expect this year’s Amazon Prime to be a "doozy."

And I'm still holding out for an Amazon Echo.

Matthew Knight is head of strategic innovation at Carat. This story first appeared on campaign.co.uk.

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