It’s Christmas in July for Amazon.
The online behemoth said it will kick off its own e-commerce holiday, “Prime Day,” next week to coincide with the site’s 20th anniversary. Amazon will mark the occasion by introducing a day of blockbuster sales on July 15 — boasting better deals than those offered on Black Friday, the company said Monday morning.
The deals will be available exclusively for Amazon Prime members in the U.S., U.K., Austria, Canada, Spain, Japan, Italy, Germany and France, which all pay a $99 yearly fee for unlimited same and two-day free shipping as well as unlimited streaming for TV and movies and access to books via the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.
Sales will commence at midnight, with new deals added to the mix as frequently as every 10 minutes. The company will try to drum up online purchases with thousands of Lightning Deals, seven Deals of the Day and more.
Prime Day is reminiscent of Single’s Day, Alibaba’s online shopping extravaganza, which takes place every Nov. 11 in China. Last year, Alibaba drove Single’s Day sales of more than $9 billion in sales, up from $5.8 billion in 2013.
“We expect that Prime Day will be expensive for us, but this is an exciting day for our members to shop some of the best deals of the year and to participate in fun activities,” said an Amazon spokeswoman.
She declined to reveal the company’s sales goals for the shopping day and said it wasn’t decided yet whether Prime Day would become an annual holiday.
In addition to deals, Amazon is urging its vast customer base to get involved. The company is asking members to create and upload their own images to Prime Photos for a chance to win a $10,000 gift card to Amazon.com in its first ever #PrimeLivingPhotoContest. Photos must capture an instance when Prime made a customer’s life easier, such as the arrival of an order that was placed just hours before and showed up just in time.
Hana Ben-Shabat, a retail strategist at global management consultant A.T. Kearney, said Prime Day has the potential to become the first global online shopping holiday. Thanksgiving and Black Friday are American events and Single’s Day is a Chinese holiday, making this the first shopping day set to roll out across multiple markets without being pegged to a specific, cultural aspect of any one country.
Ben-Shabat is a little skeptical that there is no hook tied to July 15 besides Amazon’s anniversary. And she said the fact that many seasonal sales are taking place around the same time could eventually turn Prime Day into “just another summer sale.”
“They are only focusing on Prime members, so it’s not across the board,” she said. “I think that could be successful for them because the Prime customers are the ones who are heavy users.”
Sucharita Mulpuru, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, said Prime Day is “unusual because they usually don’t do this mass marketing type of thing.”
But whether it’s a new marketing approach or a response to disappointing numbers, she thinks American consumers are ripe for another “huge blockbuster” online sales day that is scalable like Single’s Day and isn’t Cyber Monday.