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6 Ways Retailers Felt the Prime Day 2019 Effect

Here’s how Salesforce's Commerce Cloud saw the ripple effect of Prime Day roll across global ecommerce sites and email marketing initiatives. Check this year's ecommerce data insights.

Amazon Prime Day has turned into a 48-hour shopping extravaganza — wielding significant retail influence both before and after the actual event. Prime Day has become Prime Week in the same fashion that Cyber Monday has turned into Cyber Week. Case in point: Amazon reported that Prime Day 2019 surpassed Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined for the online marketplace, as Prime members worldwide purchased more than 175 million items.

This extended shopping holiday amid the dog days of summer creates a halo effect for the entire month of July — pushing ecommerce growth among non-Amazon retailers to approximately 10% higher than a typical month, according to Salesforce data.

Last week, we dug through that data to make our Prime Day predictions based on the shopping activity of half a billion consumers on our platform. Now we’re ready to share the real effects on retail. With Prime Day comprising two full days (including a Taylor Swift concert this year), we expected big results — and the Cyber Week of summer certainly delivered.

Here’s how we saw the ripple effect of Prime Day roll across global ecommerce sites and email marketing initiatives.

1. The Prime Day tide lifted retailers’ ships with 37% revenue growth

Thanks to the Prime Day hype, retailers benefited handsomely on their own ecommerce properties. This year’s 48-hour sale saw 37% year-over-year (YoY) revenue growth across non-Amazon ecommerce sites. While this falls shy of last year’s impressive 60% YoY revenue growth, these results are still a significant win for retailers. Prime Day has reversed the July sales doldrums into a shopping event that retailers themselves were calling Black Friday in July.

Statistic on year-over-year revenue growth to non-Amazon retailers

Shoppers spent their waking hours cashing in on Prime Day deals. Check out the chart below showing hourly revenue during Prime Day 2019 versus 2018. Thanks to the extended sales, consumers were able to shop earlier than ever, resulting in a revenue peak at 9 a.m. PT Monday morning. Revenue stayed consistently high from start to finish with an added boost Tuesday morning and again during the final few hours of Prime Day.

Graph of Prime Day hourly revenue

2. Mobile shopping hit a new Prime Day tipping point

This Prime Day, we hit a mobile order share milestone. Specifically, 49% of orders and 65% of visits happened on mobile devices across the two-day Prime period. These numbers represent an impressive 20% YoY growth rate for mobile order share on Prime Day.

The behavior of this connected consumer — on the go during the summer holiday — mirrors what we saw during the mobile-first 2018 holiday season. The takeaway: On the most critical, highest revenue-producing shopping days of the year, more shoppers are browsing and transacting on a small screen. Ensure every journey and experience is engineered to break down the friction between inspiration and purchase on mobile.

Graph that details the Prime Day order share of desktop versus mobile

3. CPG and tech brands rode the Prime Day wave — as active apparel and footwear crested, too

Consumer packaged goods were a breakout category this year. According to Internet Retailer, online CPG sales soared 35% to nearly $60 billion in the U.S. in 2018 alone. Amazon itself capitalized on this CPG energy by launching Lady Gaga’s new makeup line, Haus Laboratories, on Prime Day as part of its official Prime Day launches.

Photo of examples of Prime Day product launches

With 99% of consumer goods manufacturers planning to sell directly to consumers, according to Salesforce research, many built off the awareness and demand from this manufactured holiday to forge direct relationships with consumers. For direct-to-consumer beauty brands, the goal was to compete with the likes of Haus. For example, Charlotte Tilbury offered many products at 30% off, and Tarte had a July 15-only $10 sale.

Of course, consumer technology has always been a big Prime Day focus for Amazon, and competitors came up with their own tech deals to compete. For example, Walmart’s Google Week was a sale on Google Home products from July 9 to July 17.

Beyond tech, other categories benefitted from the Prime Day boost. Across non-Amazon ecommerce sites, active apparel and footwear tracked the most YoY revenue boost from Prime Day. It’s critical for brands to maintain marketshare as Amazon continues to establish itself as a leader with private label merchandise in these categories.

Graphic that states footwear saw the greatest revenue growth on Prime Day

4. Emails and homepage promotions capitalized on the Prime Day noise

The marketing noise around Prime Day was deafening. From our Marketing Cloud platform, we observed that on the first day of Prime Day, retailers sent 24% more emails compared to the same day from the prior week. Many retailers also created their own sales holidays, like Target’s Deal Days or Walmart’s Big Save event, to take advantage of the heightened consumer appetite for shopping through their own properties.

Proprietary email marketing and ecommerce homepage research from Salesforce found that just over half (51%) of retailers joined the Prime Day party through some type of promotion. In particular, we discovered:

  • 51% of retailers in Internet Retailer’s (IR) 2019 Top 500 advertised a sale between July 13 – 19, whether in their email marketing or on their ecommerce homepage.
  • 20% of IR 500 retailers specifically promoted a 48-hour sale occurring July 15 – 16 via their ecommerce site’s homepage.
  • 17% of emails received from IR 500 retailers from July 15 – 16 mentioned “Prime” or “Black Friday in July” as keywords.

In fact, only 11% of emails received from IR 500 retailers from July 15 – 16 specifically mentioned the word “prime” — the rest (89%) preferred to promote the shopping holiday more coyly, without directly putting Amazon’s marketplace in the spotlight. Check out these creative ways that Target and Shop.com did just that (even taking direct aim at Amazon Prime’s membership fees).

Image of Target Deal Days announcement
Image of Shop.com competitive offers on Prime Day

5. Brands were generous with shipping and discount offers – but not Cyber Week-generous

With many brands touting Prime Day as Black Friday in July (see the email and homepage insights above), it’s easy to see the similarities between Prime Day and Cyber Week, retail’s two biggest sales events in the U.S. Yet Cyber Week – Thanksgiving Day to Cyber Monday – still reigns as the most generous shopping week for consumers.

We saw record-setting deals during Cyber Week 2018 with an 80% free shipping rate and a 28% discount rate. Contrast that with Prime Day 2019, where 71% of all Prime Day orders were shipped at no cost to the shopper – and order values were discounted 21% on average. While Prime Day deals weren’t as lucrative as the holiday shopping period — perhaps due to leveraging personalization — shoppers still had ample incentive to take advantage.

Statistics on free shipping and total discounts on retailer sites

6. Artificial intelligence delivered the goods on day two

Personalized product recommendations played a significant role in connecting shoppers with relevant deals as Prime Day came to a close. In the fleeting moments of this manufactured holiday, personalization not only helped enhance findability but also translated to increased conversion and revenue. In fact, those consumers who clicked on a product recommendation — powered by artificial intelligence — on day two spent 32% more on average per order.

From the growth of mobile to D2C, Prime Day trends are a bellwether for what retailers can expect from the year’s biggest shopping season: the November and December holidays. For more, check out our Holiday Readiness Headquarters and stay tuned to the Salesforce Shopping Index for the latest on consumer insights and ecommerce growth.

Methodology

Salesforce sourced data for this blog post from live digital commerce sites transacting on the Commerce Cloud and email marketing activity from Marketing Cloud during Amazon Prime Day 2019, which ran from July 15-July 16, 2019. These insights were supplemented with a proprietary study of the emails sent between July 11-July 16, 2019 by retailers in Internet Retailer’s 2019 Top 500 Report. This blog post focuses on the retail sector, and all data has been aggregated and anonymized to produce a diverse analysis set.

For the commerce metrics, discount rate is calculated as the discount on merchandise purchased and does not include items already on markdown. This Prime Day recap is not indicative of Salesforce operational performance.

Rob Garf is vice president of Industry Strategy and Insights and the chair of the Client Advisory Board for Retail at Salesforce. With 25 years of global retail experience as a practitioner (Lids, Marshalls, Hit or Miss), an industry analyst (AMR Research), a strategy consultant (IBM), and a software leader (Salesforce), he is no stranger to the industry and the challenges retailers face. His team currently develops industry research and advises senior executives globally on unified engagement strategies. Rob is also a frequent industry speaker and a member of NRF’s Digital Council.

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