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10/07/2022

Three reasons to compete with Prime Day holiday event

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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The Amazon Prime Early Access Sale is around the corner.

The upcoming Prime Early Access Sale is an opportunity competing retailers can’t afford to miss.

Amazon is debuting Prime Early Access Sale, a new two-day global shopping event exclusive to Prime members, Tuesday, Oct. 11 through Wednesday, Oct. 12, in 15 countries including the U.S. This follow-up to the record-breaking July 2022 Prime Day event will offer Prime members hundreds of thousands of deals, as well as several targeted holiday promotions.

Although trying to counter an Amazon sales extravaganza is far from an easy task, other retailers really have no choice but to offer some type of online holiday discounting in the same timeframe. Here are three reasons why.

It’s not just Amazon
While there has not been the same flurry of public counter-Prime Day retail promotional activity around the holiday edition as there was in July, Amazon’s biggest rivals are not sitting pat. Walmart and Target both announced October holiday sales before Amazon even made Prime Early Access Sale official (although it had long been rumored). Kohl’s has since launched its own early holiday event.

There is no way to beat these behemoths at their online holiday promotions, so the only choice left is to join them. It’s the difference between ceding some or all of your holiday revenues to the biggest players.

Inventory needs to move
After months of product shortages caused by supply chain snarls and pandemic-slowed manufacturing, many retailers now face an inventory glut. Delayed shipments from multiple seasons all showed up in a short period of time, leaving retailers with excess, out-of-season merchandise clogging up warehouses, storerooms and shelves.

In a recent exclusive interview, Liza Amlani, principal of the consulting practice Retail Strategy Group, recommended strategies including seasonless planning, as well as buying into raw materials for trend-reactive manufacturing.

[Read more: Exclusive Q&A: How retailers can effectively address excess inventory]

However, as a “one-off” effort to clear excess merchandise from their supply chain, an early online sales extravaganza is a perfect vehicle. Out-of-season items may hold greater appeal as holiday gifts the recipient doesn’t expect to use right away, and clearance pricing designed to move inventory can boost traffic and conversions in the face of stiff Tier I competition.

The holiday season may be shifting
When it comes to holiday shopping, October may be the new November.

“The retail industry has been trying to move up holiday sales into October for a very long time, and this is the market-moving event that is going to do it, Kristen Gall, president ofRakuten Rewards, said in an exclusive interview with Chain Store Age. Gall cited factors including consumer fears of inflation rising throughout the fall and the abovementioned retailer desire to move excess inventory as driving holiday promotions into October.

A recent survey from Shopkick supports Gall’s assertion that consumers are no longer waiting for the post-Thanksgiving period to begin holiday shopping. According to the survey, 43% of surveyed consumers say they are planning to shop on Black Friday this year (an 18% decrease from 2021), and 27% plan to shop on Cyber Monday (a 40% year-over-year decrease).

At the same time, 40% of respondents will begin holiday shopping before Thanksgiving, a 15% increase compared to 2021. Twenty-seven percent plan to get started before Halloween, an 18% increase from the prior year.

And almost all (98%) respondents say Amazon will be their primary online shopping destination, another reminder that retailers have no spare holiday sales ground to cede to the 800-pound gorilla of e-commerce.

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