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Amazon Prime Day: the new standard for customer experiences

Jennifer DeRome  |  July 12, 2018

Every year since 2015, Amazon Prime customers look forward to the company’s annual Prime Day event. The event, which began as a way to celebrate the company’s 20th anniversary, has exploded in growth and popularity in just a few years. At the close of the 2017 event, sales had grown by 60%, year-over-year, and this year, on July 16th at 3:00 PM Eastern Time, Prime Day will be rolled out to over 100 million Prime customers, globally. While all these statistics are impressive, they’re not necessarily a direct result of Prime Day itself, but rather Amazon’s obsession with its customers—something its CEO, Jeff Bezos often notes is something the company strives to perfect every day of the year. Flashy sales events, like Black Friday or Cyber Monday, are great ways to bolster sales and attract new customers, but it’s the experiences customers have once the sales end and the hype is over that win over customers long term. Amazon Prime Day is a great example of a flashy sale that gets just about everyone’s attention, but it’s an even better example of how and why Amazon continues to set the standard for customer experience for retail and beyond, every day.

We innovate by starting with the customer and working backwards. That becomes the touchstone for how we invent.   - Jeff Bezos

How Amazon is winning with CX

The deals and benefits Prime members enjoy on Prime Day are a perk, and often enough of an incentive to sign up for a membership. But what keeps customers coming back—and committing to annual memberships upfront—is a consistent, unwavering focus on the constants in customer needs. Jeff Bezos is known for being a proponent of focusing not on the ever-changing marketplace, but on the things that don’t change—especially when it comes to what customers will always want.

It’s impossible to imagine a future 10 years from now where a customer comes up and says, “Jeff, I love Amazon; I just wish the prices were a little higher.” “I love Amazon; I just wish you’d deliver a little more slowly.” Impossible.                - Jeff Bezos

Prime Day beautifully illustrates how Amazon has zeroed in on what its existing—and potential—customers really want by putting those expectations in the spotlight for a couple of days every year, then quietly continues every day in-between. Here’s how Prime Day exemplifies the new standard for retail experiences Amazon has created:

Instant gratification

One of the first key attractions to Prime memberships was the concept of instant gratification. See what you want online, click, and in two days, your package would be on your doorstep. No dealing with traffic to scour big box or specialty brick-and-mortar stores. Shop from the comfort of home with little effort or inconvenience. Amazon understood that customers want what they want, and they want it now. Two-day shipping, grocery delivery, and most recently, through its Prime Now feature, two-hour alcohol delivery in select cities. The company’s recent purchase of Whole Foods is yet another example of how it meets its customers where they are. Just about everyone in America relies on grocery stores for food, so it makes sense Amazon would want to be there, too. And this year, Prime members will get an added incentive to shop on Prime Day—purchase $10 at Whole Foods in the week leading up to Prime Day, and get $10 credit to use on Prime Day. By building the company’s mission around customer needs, Amazon is in the unique position to ensure their customers are getting what they want when they want it.

If we can arrange things in such a way that our interests are aligned with our customers, then in the long term that will work out really well for customers and it will work out really well for Amazon. - Jeff Bezos

Seemingly endless options

What started as an online bookseller quickly developed into the “A to Z” destination for consumers to find just about anything. In the past year, my family alone has purchased everything from a new sump pump for our basement, to paper towels, to home computers, and yes, even books. (If there were a Whole Foods near us, we’d probably be ordering from there, too.) By continuously expanding its reach into all aspects of consumers’ daily lives, Amazon essentially needed to think of everything. Up until around 2016, those needs were met directly through Amazon’s own inventory. That all changed when the company expanded its inventory to include third-party sellers, which are reported to make up about half of all the items sold. As a result, it’s not surprising that, according to a Survata study, 49% of consumers’ first product search begins with Amazon.

Customer-centered everything

Naturally, our favorite Amazon trait is the company’s commitment to customers. Relying on constant human insights, empathy, and seamless customer service has earned the company the enviable position of having the highest CX rankings among retailers, according to a study by Foresee.

The most important single thing is to focus obsessively on the customer. Our goal is to be earth’s most customer-centric company. - Jeff Bezos

That obsession has paid off. Last year, Amazon Prime memberships had doubled following Prime Day, with a record number of shoppers across 13 countries and a 60% leap in sales. This year, it’s predicted Prime Day will eclipse even 2017’s impressive showing. The addition of Whole Foods items, plus millions of deals for Prime members positions the company for historic growth, and potentially a whole new batch of loyal Amazon customers that will be back again next year (and probably more than a few days between now and then).

Ready for Prime Day?

If you’re an Amazon Prime customer and planning to shop on Prime Day, Amazon has a few tips to get you prepared for the big day:

  1. If you’re not already a Prime Member, sign up, or start a 30-day free trial
  2. Download the Amazon App or log in to your account online to see special sneak peek offers
  3. Mark your calendar for July 16th at 3:00 P.M. Eastern Time when the sale begins
  4. On Prime Day check out the deals on the App, the website, or even using Alexa. You can keep track of deals on items you’re interested in by using the “Watching” feature or search for specific items to see if they’re included on Prime Day.

Pro tip: If you’d like a bit more incentive, you can save even more by downloading and signing into the Amazon App for the first time, installing Amazon Assistant, using Camera Search, or by shopping at Whole Foods with your Prime Visa.

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About the author:

Jennifer is a Senior Content Strategist for UserTesting. When she's not dreaming up new ways to connect with audiences, you can find her traveling around the world or enjoying a glass of wine with friends.