Kiri Masters is Head of Retail Marketplace Strategy at Bobsled, an Acadia company, and the Founder of Bobsled Marketing.
Prime Day is a highly anticipated shopping event each year - not just for consumers but for brands who use the event to shore up sales in the slower summer months. Each year there are new macro trends that affect Prime Day, as well as changes and developments in Amazon’s own approach to the shopping holiday.
True to form, Amazon is quiet on what the event will look like in 2022, but here are some things we know so far.
1. The event will likely be in July
Amazon has asked sellers to have their inventory sent to Amazon fulfillment centers by no later than June 20th - indicating that an early July date is most likely.
This is in line with prior years, where Prime Day is held typically in mid-July.
With only one exception in 2020, Prime Day is held over the summer. For many retail brands, this event comes at a time of the year when sales are slower, so Prime Day (and the legions of copycat events that other retailers create to compete) is welcomed as a chance to boost revenue and sell through stale inventory ahead of the fourth quarter.
Of course, we still don’t know for sure when the date is, or how long the event will last. Amazon only announces the date and duration one, two, or three weeks prior to the event.
2. Merchants can take better charge of their inventory
Last week, Amazon launched the inventory manager dashboard. This new system is more flexible for brands using FBA (Fulfilled By Amazon) to manage their own inventory levels. Previously, Amazon imposed limits on inventory levels, which many sellers found to be punitive and restricted their ability to adequately stock up. (Covered in my Forbes post, Amazon Hobbles Merchants’ Prime Day Preparations With Inventory Restrictions)
With this new dashboard, sellers can opt to send additional inventory in, with the understanding that they will be charged long-term storage fees if it doesn’t sell-through. This is a big improvement and could help significantly to avoid the issues from previous shopping holidays where sellers were not able to stock up appropriately and had no recourse.
3. Amazon has a deadline for merchants to submit coupons
This may appear to be a trivial change on the surface, but it could actually hint at something more meaningful.
For the first time, Amazon has a deadline for merchants to create a ‘coupon’ promotion for Prime Day. In the past, other promotion types like Prime Exclusive Deals and Lightning Deals had deadlines, but not coupons.
Amazon is creating a sense of urgency for brands to set up these coupons. Perhaps they are unsure how widely brands will be discounting and will use this data to reassure customers that it will in fact be a big event, or to follow up with merchants who are not offering any deals at all.
While coupons are available for any brand to set up on Amazon, the other promotion types are limited and curated by Amazon. In some cases, brands have seen their universe of promotion abilities shrink.
“Last year we were able to submit most of our catalog for Prime Day consideration,” said Matt Daubenspeck, Director of Amazon Global at Apothecary products, “This year, we could only choose from a small pre-selected list Amazon had curated for us.”
4. Inflationary pressures could affect the depth of discounting
Last year I posited that the supply chain woes of brands would eventually be resolved and many would find themselves over-inventoried. While this appears to be true, my follow-on prediction that this would lead to a giant clearance sale appears to be off.
Many brands that my agency, Bobsled Marketing, works with are now concerned with lower profit margins, driven by increasing costs of goods, transport, and labor. Many brands have raised their prices, and are reluctant to discount again so quickly. This could also affect the depth and breadth of discounting on Prime Day.
Like every year, Amazon’s Prime Day in 2022 will be one to watch closely. It is the dress rehearsal for the Cyber Five shopping event and the fourth quarter in general.