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Prime Day is next month – three steps to take now

Amazon has all but confirmed Prime Day will take place in June – and it’s not too late to prepare.

In Amazon’s most recent quarterly guidance, the e-tail giant said this year’s Prime Day will occur in the second quarter. This aligns with previous reports indicating Prime Day will take place in mid-to-late June

So, Prime Day is happening next month. If Amazon’s competitors (i.e., all other retailers) are lucky, they have about six weeks to finalize a counter-strategy to an omnichannel sales extravaganza estimated to have generated $10.4 billion in global sales for Amazon when it was last held in October 2020.

There is still time to take some measures, such as:

Check and forecast inventory
Even Amazon experienced issues with out-of-stocks during the early days of COVID-19. But from all appearances, the e-tailer is back to normal with nearly limitless access to inventory. The same is not necessarily true of its competitors.

Any retailer intending to launch a Prime Day counter-promotion needs to conduct a thorough assessment of what products are currently in stock, as well as what merchandise is in the six-to-eight-week pipeline and which items customers are most likely to order. If you do not have the necessary inventory tracking and forecasting technology in-house, start investigating third-party consultants and/or cloud-based turnkey solutions.

Test robustness of e-commerce systems
E-commerce traffic and spending has been elevated since the beginning of the pandemic, and shows no signs of abating. Any extra stress on your e-commerce systems will be on top of an already unusually heavy volume of activity.

This means ensuring e-commerce infrastructure is robust enough to handle heavier-than-normal traffic levels for a period of two or more days, depending on the length of your promotion. Spikes may also be harder to predict than normal, as they will be as least partly dependent on sales trends and product availability at Amazon and other major retailers running special sales events. 

Retailers need to start reinforcing their underlying e-commerce infrastructure now, whether by scaling up cloud capacity and/or adding backup servers. Rigorous testing also needs to be conducted, to identify any weaknesses before they cause an embarrassing (and costly) site crash or failure during a sales event.

Reinforce fulfillment
In addition to its extremely deep inventory and low prices, Amazon offers rapid delivery. Retailers that want to at least partially compete with Prime Day can quickly ramp up their same- and next-day online delivery capability by signing on with one of a wide variety of third-party delivery platforms. Many of these services will integrate with a retailer’s inventory and logistics systems within a few days.

This allows retailers to provide competitive delivery times with Amazon without the upfront investment of time or money (although there is a revenue-sharing and fee structure for deliveries). In addition, underperforming or shuttered stores can be transitioned to “dark stores” that operate as hubs supporting last-mile delivery, as well as in-person pickup, of online orders.

To that last point, remember that Amazon now operates a large number of brick-and-mortar stores across the country, which serve as BOPIS and curbside pickup spots as well as provide additional fast shipping capacity. Many of the same platforms which support efficient online delivery also provide a foundation for omnichannel fulfillment.

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