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Amazon Prime Day sets new precedent for back-to-school


The introduction of Amazon Prime Day on July 15 created a new mid-summer e-commerce event that had a profound impact on back-to-school shopping.

According to a new study from Market Track, Prime Day and the resulting widespread competitive response created a brand new shopping event only two weeks before the peak back-to-school shopping period.

Market Track’s recent Back-to-School Shopper Insight Series survey found that 63% of shoppers make the majority of their back-to-school purchases in August. Thus retailers will need to resolve how to stay competitive online throughout July, while still providing incentive for back-to-school shoppers in early August.

Despite the introduction of Prime Day, retailers like Office Depot, Staples, and Amazon offered their deepest discounts on back-to-school products between Aug. 6-12 this year.

Study findings also show a shift in promotional back-to-school content. Combined, Best Buy, Office Depot, Staples, Target, Walmart, J.C. Penney, Kohl’s, and Macy’s decreased their circular output during July and August by 13% (106 to 92). However, they did not cut their back-to-school event circulars, but rather their shorter, manufacturer-sponsored circulars. Three out of every four shoppers have used or will use print circulars to find deals during back-to-school, according Market Track’s survey.

From Amazon School List offering teachers a portal to create school lists for parents/students, to Macys, Kohl’s, and J.C. Penney hosting back-to-school social media contests and activities, retailers brought all stakeholders into a back-to-school experience, rather than simply offering promotions and discounts.

Looking ahead to next year, Market Track advises that innovations in ad messaging were just as important as ad volume shifts during back-to-school. Retailers need to be able to see how their competition is engaging shoppers in print, digital, and broadcast media to be informed enough to differentiate their own ad messages.

In addition, with likely July e-commerce events pulling back-to-school shopping into July, retailers will need visibility into competitive online pricing to track the arrival of discounts. Promotional messages muse be segmented to meet specific preferences of parents, students and teachers.

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