Retail

Amazon Gets Clever: Prime Day Doesn't Start on Prime Day. It Starts Today.

Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) has announced that its annual Prime Day (actually two days) will run over October 13 and October 14. The period will balloon Amazon’s sales for the quarter, as it has done for five years. However, Amazon Prime Day sales begin today for Prime members, a clever tactic.

The sales that start today, however, are almost entirely of Amazon’s own products. That means that these products will be available for almost two weeks with little competition, allowing it to sell products that likely have high margins. These products also can gain market share in their categories early. The company is pushing its Alexa-powered home assistant, Fire TV, Kindle Reader, Kindle Books, its grocery business, toys and small appliances now.

Prime Day was pushed back due to COVID-19 this year. Generally, the date is set in July and helps shake off the weak third-quarter period of Amazon revenue. The fourth quarter traditionally is Amazon’s best quarter because of the holidays. With Prime Day and the holidays in the same quarter, Amazon easily will post a record quarter.

Prime Day starts at midnight Pacific Time on Tuesday, October 13, and runs through Wednesday, October 14. Prime members in the United States, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Spain, Singapore, Netherlands, Mexico, Luxembourg, Japan, Italy, Germany, France, China, Canada, Belgium, Austria, Australia, Turkey and Brazil may participate.

One of the cleverest Amazon tactics is that people who are not part of Amazon’s Prime subscription service can take a 30-day free trial. Those who stay on pay $199 a year. This gives them access to a number of benefits, the best known of which are free shipping and access to Amazon’s streaming media service.

Amazon says it wants to help small businesses this year, which in many cases have been ravaged by the pandemic. People who spend $10 or more with one of Amazon’s small business affiliates will get a $10 credit. Amazon says more than half of the items sold at Amazon.com are by third parties. That means the small business package may help hundreds of thousands of companies.

The breadth of the sale is the primary reason Prime Day does so well. This year, it has gathered over a million products that will be discounted, a surefire way to boost its fourth-quarter revenue and press its Prime membership count higher. And Prime members do not have to wait until Prime Day.