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What to Know about Amazon Prime Day 2016

Tomorrow, July 12, is Amazon Prime Day, when bargain hunters are expected to flock to Amazon and other retail websites looking to see what deals they can snap up. It’s not clear whether it can become as big as Alibaba’s made-up shopping holiday Singles Day, but Amazon says it will offer more deals than last year’s Prime Day when it sold more items than it had on the previous Black Friday.

Here’s a roundup of what you need to know about this year’s summer shopping event, from the effect on third-party sellers to how Amazon rivals are responding to the second annual Prime Day event.

Third-Party Sellers Do the Heavy Lifting on Prime Day 
Shoppers flock to Amazon on Prime Day, but are smaller sellers doing the heavy lifting for the ecommerce giant?

Jenn Markey, Vice President of Marketing at 360pi, says deals from Amazon marketplace sellers dominated last year’s Prime Day event, and nearly twice as many small business sellers will be participating globally this year than in 2015.

“Amazon is strategically positioning marketplace sellers to bear the risks, costs and discounts associated with Prime Day, while taking the lion’s share of glory for themselves,” she said.

However, as long as sellers go into the event with eyes wide open, Prime Day can provide opportunities for merchants such as the one suggested by Ohad Hagai, Vice President of Marketing at Feedvisor: use product ads on Prime Day to get visibility to private-label products.

Amazon Expects “Disappointed” Buyers 
While there were deals on televisions and the like last year, Amazon Prime Day deals included one for 40% off a set of Rubbermaid containers. Greg Greeley, Vice President of Amazon Prime, acknowledged that customers complained last year of odd deals, but he told Cnet it had more to do with the range of items and range of customers Amazon has.

“We saw people buying lots and lot of items. So, it’s almost amusing to have someone making a quip on social to say this is something odd or unusual or why would I want this, and then see them selling out. It just shows you the diversity of interests of our customer base.”

Amazon ended selling out of those Rubbermaid sets, but the way, selling 28,000 in a short period of time.

New this year: shoppers can receive notifications of their favorite Prime Day deals through the Amazon app.

Data Shows Amazon Rivals Benefit from Prime Day 
In 2015, retailers saw 1.8 times more traffic on Prime Day than the comparable day the previous year, according to Hooklogic. The top traffic winners were Apparel & Accessories; Electronics; Sporting Goods; Home & Garden; and Furniture.

Amazon rivals not only benefitted in terms of traffic – Hooklogic data showed conversions were 16% higher, with conversions peaking at 11 pm EST. Its conclusion: “It seems as though consumers shopped around in the morning but didn’t buy until after work.”

Walmart is responding again this year, as are other retailers.

eBay is taking an interesting approach this year and is promoting its eBay Deals: “Exclusively for everyone – Deals up to 70% off. Always Free Shipping. No membership required.”

Sellers, Use a Hashtag 
Last year, #PrimeDay, #PrimeDayDeals, and #PrimeDayFail were trending hashtags on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Keep an eye out for ways to capitalize on social deal-sharing to get the word out to shoppers about your listings.

Amazon Leverages the Power of Prime Day
Amazon is using Prime Day to promote its Alexa and Prime Now. “This Prime Day, customers in more than 25 metro areas in the U.S. will be able to shop Prime Day deals on more than 500 items through Prime Now for superfast delivery,” the company said.

And it’s giving Prime members $10 off their first purchase on any eligible order over $20 when they shop using Alexa. It’s also running exclusive deals for owners of its Alexa-enabled Echo devices:

“In celebration of Prime Day on July 12, Alexa will have a number of exclusive deals on products like Amazon devices, smart home products, toys, and more. To learn more about Alexa’s Prime Day deals, ask “Alexa, what are your Prime Day deals?” or visit amazon.com/AlexaDeals. Members will also be able to order Prime Day spotlight deals using Alexa on Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, or Amazon Tap.”

Another Benefit of Prime Day
There are lots of benefits for Amazon of holding Prime Day, but in a roundup of some of them, Business Insider names one compelling reason for holding the shopping holiday in July: as a critical peak-day test. “Prime Day is a good way to gauge customer demand for the rest of the year. It also lets Amazon test its fulfillment and shipping capabilities ahead of the holiday period to make sure it doesn’t face the same type of shipping delays it experienced in previous years.”

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.