Amazon’s Prime Day sale was, according to widespread reports, trashed on social media for everything from product selection to website woes to the extent of the savings being proffered. But, as Amazon has proven over its 20-year history, its long-game strategy is to win by coming close to losing.
“Shortly after 5 p.m. EST, #PrimeDayFail was a top trending topic on Facebook, with angry customers hammering the company for an uneven selection, sold-out items and long wait lists,” writes Clare O’Connor for Forbes.
And according to Adobe’s tracking of social media, “50% of overall Amazon Prime Day … sentiment ‘relates to sadness,’ with disappointed chatter focusing on what potential buyers saw as crummy offerings like ‘socks, microfiber towels and Adam Sandler movies,’” O’Connor reports. On the positive side of the ledger: “23% of sentiment relates to joy, 19% to admiration and 8% to surprise.”
“More Fizzle Than Sizzle,” reads the online hed for the New York Times story by Hiroko Tabuchi. Replications of the tweets of the disenchanted follow.
“A search for similar complaints on Walmart’s sale yielded few results, offering a rare respite for the discount giant, itself a frequent target of Internet derision,” Tabuchi reports.
MarketWatch’s Shawn Langlois finds a dispatch from someone who academically suggests that Prime Day is “some sort of postmodern experiment to see if disappointment can be quantified” and another claiming, on a more relatable level, “everyone is disappointed, just like Christmas morning.”
“Amazon’s Prime Day Sale Is Awesome If You Need to Clean Your House,” reads the backhanded affirmation atop Lily Hay Newman’s piece for Slate.
Hadley Malcolm also has roundup of the disgruntled for USA Today, writing: “Deals on granny panties, an extra-long shoehorn, an airplane seatbelt extender, baby wipes and a Tupperware set were among the items called out on Twitter for being underwhelming.”
TechCruch’s Sarah Perez similarly retweets a number of heartfelt complaints but — and it’s a very telling but — she writes: “What’s interesting, however, is how significant consumer demand really was for the promotion — something that’s hard to see through the Twitter snark.”
Indeed, as The Donald may yet prove once again, the most vociferous among us don’t always represent the reality of the situation.
In an email, Amazon spokeswoman Julie Law tells the Times that Prime Day peak order rates had already surpassed 2014 Black Friday levels and “some of our most highly anticipated deals are still coming,” Tabuchi writes.
Indeed, Amazon released a statement about 14 hours into the sale making the same claim, reports CNN Money’s Ahiza Garcia.
“Prime members have bought tens of thousands of Fire TV Sticks, 35,000 Lord of the Rings Blu-Ray sets, 28,000 Rubbermaid sets, and 4,000 Echos in 15 minutes,” says the statement attributed to Amazon Prime VP Greg Greeley. “The Kate Spade purse was gone in less than a minute. The 1.2K of $999 TVs sold out in less than 10 minutes and there are thousands more deals coming. New deals start every ten minutes until late tonight.”
Alexander Rink, CEO of price intelligence consultancy 360pi, emailed a verdict before either the carping or the crowing had reached their zeniths: “Amazon wins this round” — at least in terms of consumer perception, he felt.
“Especially telling, my gut reaction when I heard about Prime Day was ‘Hmm, maybe it's time that I finally sign up for that Prime membership.’ My gut reaction when I saw Walmart's promise of rollbacks? ‘Why, when they are known as the standard-bearer of EDLP, were they not already proactively passing those savings on to shoppers?’”
As Rink points out, “Amazon is playing a different game than Walmart and other traditional retailers.”
That is apparent in a set of four infographics published on the Wall Street Journal site tracking the sales, net income and valuation of Amazon, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble and Target over the past 20 years. Suffice to say that Amazon’s “cumulative percentage change in market cap” is just below 15,000% while B&N hugs the 0% baseline and the other two are at about 1,000%.
That’s all on sales $408.9 billion but just $1.96 billion of net income. Two decades worth of Amazon Priming the pump to extinguish its competitors, you might say.
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