If ecommerce platform Amazon was a hero from ancient Greece, it might be Achilles, the demigod warrior who appeared unbeatable on the battlefields of Troy.
As anyone familiar with the origin of “Achilles heel” knows, his well meaning mother hoped to save him from his fate, which was to die in the Trojan War, by dipping him in the River Styx and gifting him with invincible skin. She held him by his heel, though, creating a point of vulnerability that would, in the end, fulfill his tragic destiny.
In terms of an ecommerce analogy, the point is really just it often seems Amazon, like Achilles, is invulnerable. And while it’s fair to say every other retailer in America faces an uphill battle on Prime Day, it’s not an entirely lost cause. Just look for Amazon’s heel. (And don’t try to outsmart the gods—that never works.)
Case in point: While research from digital marketing company Bazaarvoice shows 70% of respondents to its 1,000-person survey plan to shop at Amazon during this summer sale period, digital marketing agency Adlucent determined 72% of Prime-Day-shopping shoppers will also shop elsewhere.
But they’re not exactly shouting it from rooftops. For the two weeks prior to July 11, social media analytics firm Brandwatch found Prime Day was mentioned nearly 140,000 times online. In that same period, Walmart’s Summer Sale was mentioned 7,300 times, while Target’s Deal Days had about 700 mentions and eBay’s Crash Sale just 300.
“To put it another way, Prime Day owns 94% of all the summer deal mentions,” said Kellan Terry, Brandwatch’s senior manager of communications. “Walmart owns roughly 5%.”
“Prime Day owns 94% of all the summer deal mentions. Walmart owns roughly 5%.”
Kellan Terry, Brandwatch
Another social media analytics firm, Talkwalker, found a similar pecking order with the lion’s share of social mentions and engagement for Target’s Deal Days and eBay’s Crash Sale coming from news sites and roundups of Prime Day alternatives.
Likewise, mobile location analytics platform Placer.ai looked at in-store foot traffic during Prime Day 2018 sales and found Amazon subsidiary Whole Foods saw a meaningful bump, but it was pretty much business as usual for other big-box retailers. In fact, Placer.ai said Walmart and Best Buy had traffic on par with a regular weekend—and not even a good summer weekend.
But, unlike the Trojans, the fate of competing retailers is not yet written in stone, so they may want to consider the following tactics when gearing up for battle:
1. Offer better deals than Amazon
It’s pretty simple, but Bazaarvoice found 32% of the shoppers looking outside Amazon are searching for better sales.
Michelle Skupin, marketing and communications director at savings site RetailMeNot, noted Amazon’s biggest Prime Day deals are typically on its own products and services, so other retailers have an opportunity to swoop in with better deals on products they might want more.
According to the traditional retail playbook, said Allen Adamson, co-founder of marketing services firm Metaforce and adjunct associate professor at the NYU Stern School of Business, this means heavily discounting a single product, typically in the electronics department, to the point consumers see it as a steal and then those retailers have to figure out how to get shoppers to stick around to buy more.
His suggestion: focus on brands that don’t typically compete on price, like Apple or Bose, which “have a lot of pent-up demand, but the brand typically does not rely on promotions to move products.”
2. Capitalize on your physical footprint
In addition, 31% of respondents to Bazaarvoice’s survey said they shop outside Amazon because other retailers have nearby stores.
And, other than Whole Foods, Amazon Go, etc., a physical presence might actually be the closest thing Amazon has to a real-life Achilles heel.