Prime Day and the Thrill of the Hunt

In the US alone, 52% of Amazon shoppers are Prime members*, able to take advantage of this year’s Prime Day. That’s about 63 million people with the potential to go to Amazon and make a purchase on a single day. Sounds like a win-win; shoppers get deals, marketplace stores get to promote their inventory, and Amazon gets a surge in traffic that directly impacts their Prime membership figures.

The only drawback to Prime Day is shoppers really have to work to make a purchase. It’s not ideal for someone taking 5 minutes over lunch, or looking for specific item.

Instead, Prime Day maximizes the thrill of the hunt, appealing to deal hunters who enjoy scanning hundreds of search results, waitlists and more to find the perfect deal. But once they find it, the reward is not just the item purchased, but the satisfaction that comes with getting it for 50% off.

Here are four merchandising tactics Amazon is using to build up the thrill of the hunt:

  1. Endless Aisle of Products
    In using pages of results, and releasing new items every few minutes, a shopper could potentially spend all day searching for and engaging with products. Amazon actually created an endless aisle of products that’s growing throughout the day, appealing to deal hunters with a unique combination of extended time on site and renewed urgency to buy.
  2. Less Recommendations, More Results Pages
    In 2015, Prime Day used stacks of recommendation sliders to break out deals and differentiate between those currently available and coming soon. In 2016, shoppers can view more results at a time and have more ability to limit results right on the Prime landing page. This gives the deal hunter a little more flexibility and control over their shopping experience, engaging them more in the hunt.
  3. Repeating Products
    As I’m writing this, there are 610 pages of results, filterable by department, availability, price, discount and rating. These filters can reduce the overall number of results, but the same product is repeated many times throughout the set, and often on consecutive pages. This repetition pumps up the number of results, giving the impression of more deals, and a bigger hunting ground.
  4. Unavailable Results
    Instead of removing products that are 100% claimed or expired deals from their list of results, shoppers are shown every single item. This leads to two main experiences, the first is where the shopper can join a waitlist and be alerted if item becomes available. The second is where the shopper is directed to the product detail page to purchase the item at regular price. Both extend engagement with products beyond Prime Day, but it’s done at the expense of streamlined results.

It’s long been accepted that Amazon has the ability to execute promotions that wouldn’t work for anyone else, but there are two big lessons retailers can learn from Prime Day. The first is that shoppers come in many varieties and it’s up to the retailer to recognize and respond to the differences between deal hunters, casual browsers, strong intent driven shoppers and everyone else that visits their site. And second, product merchandising remains critical to success. Leveraging different approaches to merchandising can make the difference between a loosely connected sea of results and a highly-targeted, relevant experience.

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.