5 Lessons on Prime Day and Personalization

Like everybody else, I’ve been seeing a lot of buzz around prime day. For several weeks, the commercial with the dancing box man has been promising me “better than Black Friday” deals and amazing perks for Prime members.

And since I’m currently in the market for a new color printer, I thought I’d check it out. I even delayed my purchase decision in hopes that Amazon could provide me with an above average deal. But in the days approaching prime day, there was no way for me to preview the sale–no big deal, I just crossed my fingers and waited for the big day with everyone else.

But when the day arrived, it took me all of 5 minutes to realize that Amazon didn’t care I was on their site, or what I wanted – they just wanted to move some old inventory.

So what was my experience? Prime Day and I started on a bad note; when I reached the site, the page size didn’t properly display on my 13 inch laptop screen. All of the right scroll arrows were cut off from the array of recommendations sliders, which I quickly corrected by zooming out to 90%. An easy fix. But then, as a shopper, I was forced into searching through deals 7 products at a time, trapped in the confines of a recommendations carousel.

And within that limited 7 product view, Amazon included sold-out items, and while you can join a waitlist (in case someone doesn’t purchase within the time limit) to me it was just one more thing I need to scroll past in my search for something interesting and available. On top of a lot of scrolling, you can’t search within the results. You can refine to a particular category, but the same issues apply.

Lastly, where did the famous Amazon personalization engine go? These deals, a tremendous part of prime day, aren’t really relevant to me as an individual. I’ve never purchased dog bones, baby wipes, or food from Amazon, yet there they are–cluttering up my feed and frustrating me in the process. The RayBans are a little more on-target based on my past history, but ignore the fact that I’ve been on Amazon all week looking for printers.

After much searching, I found the single printer that was listed for prime day, and low and behold – it was sold out. And that was it for Amazon. They didn’t even go as far as point me to related printers that aren’t part of the sale.

So let’s recap where this day went wrong in terms of addressing an individual shopper and lessons learned:

  1. Experiences should have been optimized for the shopper’s device, rather than forcing the shopper to adapt their own display, even if it’s adjusting screen display zoom.
  2. Search and filtering functionality should be easily found, and easy to use, rather than locking the shopper into a single (and frustrating) discovery and purchase path.
  3. Product sets and display order can be dynamic, automatically deprioritizing out of stock items and ranking the remaining items based on individual-shopper expressed interest.
  4. Everything that’s been learned or observed by past and current shopper behavior should have been applied in the context of the sale, instead of serving a single generic experience.
  5. Improve the chance of conversion by taking advantage of opportunities for cross-selling based on category interest when an out of stock item is viewed.

A sale is a great opportunity to demonstrate how well you understand your shoppers. Unfortunately in this case, it was a complete deviation from the personalized experience a customer has come to expect.

This is all a good lesson for retailers. There’s power in combining the spirit of shopping, with an easy and intelligent experience aimed at the individual shopper and when done well, there’s tremendous opportunity to improve engagement and conversions.

Hillary Wilmoth

Hillary Wilmoth is the senior product marketing manager at Reflektion. Having worked in merchandising, consumer products, publishing, analytics and technology over the past 9 years, you might think she has ADD; but each marketing role was shopper-focused and research-driven. Hillary is a native of Baltimore, and, no, it’s not exactly like The Wire.