A Tale of Two Sales Events: Prime Day vs. Black Friday

Explore the history, similarities, and differences between Amazon's Prime Day and Black Friday that can help you tailor your selling strategies to maximize the impact of these pivotal retail events.

As an Amazon seller, it’s crucial to understand the unique characteristics and opportunities these two days present. Both Prime Day and Black Friday have become retail phenomena in their own right, each with its own historical roots and distinct buyer behavior patterns.

Join us as we explain the origins of these sales events, shedding light on how they evolved into the e-commerce juggernauts they are today. We’ll also dive into the key similarities and differences between the two, from customer expectations to shopping trends, helping you tailor your strategies for each event. It’s an important shopping events comparison that will equip you with the insights needed to excel on each.

Amazon’s biggest sale days

Amazon Prime Day and Black Friday have become hallmark annual shopping events in the e-commerce calendar, with each day offering a unique blend of deals and discounts. However, these shopping extravaganzas have distinct historical origins, features and impacts on the retail industry.

Prime Day was first introduced by Amazon on July 15, 2015, as a celebration of the platform’s 20th anniversary. The company aimed to offer a volume of deals greater than Black Friday but exclusively for its Prime members. This inaugural one-day event, lasting 24 hours, was a resounding success. Prime members ordered 34.4 million items during the event, making it the biggest sales day in Amazon’s history at the time, surpassing the previous year’s Black Friday. 

The success of this event saw Prime Day expand both in duration and reach over the years.

Black Friday, on the other hand, has a much longer history. Originating in the mid-20th century, it was initially associated with the heavy traffic that occurred the day after Thanksgiving and, later, the time of year when retailers moved their bottom line from red to black in their accounting ledgers. However, it wasn’t until the 1980s that it began to be linked with post-Thanksgiving sales and discounts. Today, Black Friday is recognized worldwide as the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season, with retailers offering significant discounts to entice shoppers.

When it comes to key features and offerings, Prime Day and Black Friday differ significantly. 

As the name suggests, Prime Day is exclusive to Amazon Prime members. It offers various deals across all product categories, from electronics and home goods to fashion and beauty. These Prime Day deals often have a time limit or are available in limited quantities, creating a sense of urgency among shoppers. Furthermore, the exclusivity of Prime Day to Prime members adds an element of prestige and encourages more sign-ups for Amazon’s subscription service.

Black Friday, in contrast, is not exclusive to any membership or platform. It’s an open sales event involving numerous online and offline retailers. While Amazon participates in Black Friday, the event extends far beyond this e-commerce giant. Deals during Black Friday tend to last longer, often extending over the weekend into Cyber Monday, giving shoppers more time to make their purchases.

The industry influence of Prime Day and Black Friday

These two events have both transformed the retail landscape, setting new standards for sales events and reshaping consumer shopping behavior. Understanding the differences and similarities between Prime Day and Black Friday can help Amazon sellers strategize their sales and marketing efforts effectively and help consumers plan their purchases to maximize their savings.

First, let’s dive into Amazon Prime Day. This event has created a significant shift in the e-commerce landscape by introducing a new shopping holiday in the middle of the year – a period that was previously considered a slow season for retailers. Prime Day’s introduction has allowed both Amazon and third-party sellers to boost their sales during the summer months.

Prime Day has also introduced a sense of urgency among consumers due to its time-limited deals. This can lead to impulse purchases, allowing sellers to move more products quickly. Since the event is exclusive to Amazon Prime members, it has led to an increase in Prime memberships. This interest not only benefits Amazon through subscription fees but also benefits sellers by increasing their potential customer base on the platform.

Prime Day also offers an opportunity for sellers to clear their inventory. Products that have been sitting on the shelves for a while can be offered at discounted rates to make way for new inventory. This approach particularly benefits sellers dealing in seasonal goods or trending items.

Unlike Prime Day, Black Friday is not exclusive to Amazon or any other platform. Consequently, it presents a more significant competition among sellers. However, the sheer volume of shoppers looking for deals on Black Friday means a larger pie to share.

Black Friday marks the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season. Consumers are not only shopping for themselves but also for others as they start to tick off items on their holiday gift lists. This change in shopping behavior opens up opportunities for sellers to offer bundled deals, gift sets, and discounts on a wider variety of products.

As mentioned, Black Friday deals tend to last longer, often extending over the weekend into the more recent shopping day known as Cyber Monday. The length of the event gives shoppers more time to make their purchases, which can lead to higher sales volumes. It also allows sellers to stagger their deals and promotions over several days, potentially attracting different sets of customers and driving repeat visits.

Another significant impact of Black Friday on the retail industry is its influence on consumer expectations. Shoppers have come to anticipate substantial discounts during this period, and this expectation carries over to other times of the year as well. As a result, sellers might need to consider these expectations in their pricing and discount strategies throughout the year.

The products that perform for sellers

On Amazon Prime Day, technology and electronics dominate the shopping scene. The top-selling items in October Prime Day 2023 included the Kindle Paperwhite and Apple AirPods Pro. These popular tech gadgets were joined by other Amazon devices and Apple products, solidifying Prime Day’s reputation as a tech-centric event.

But it wasn’t just high-end tech that stole the show. Everyday essentials like beauty products and pet supplies also made it to the top-selling list. This data suggests that while tech deals attract shoppers, they also take advantage of Prime Day to stock up on everyday items.

Interestingly, shoppers also showed interest in robot vacuums and drones this year, indicating a growing trend towards smart home devices and tech toys. But it’s not unusual for categories such as Consumer Electronics, Household Essentials, and Home to be among the best-selling categories.

With its much longer history, Black Friday typically has had a bigger impact on retailers and consumers. The deep discounts offered during this period also drive consumer spending, making it a win-win situation for both retailers and shoppers. Black Friday is the start of the holiday shopping season, so consumers often use this opportunity to purchase gifts. As mentioned, this means more diverse product categories see increased sales, making it an ideal time for sellers with multiple product offerings.

While tech products are still part of the mix, the discounts extend far beyond, covering everything from homeware and bedding to fashion and toys. When comparing Prime Day on Amazon vs. Black Friday, shoppers expect to see a broader spectrum of deals.

Shopping behavior also differs between these two events. On Prime Day, the sense of urgency created by time-limited deals encourages impulse buying. Shoppers rush to snag deals before they disappear, often leading to purchases they might not have planned.

On Black Friday, however, the extended sale period and social aspect of holiday traditions and doorbuster deals from physical retailers encourage more calculated shopping. Consumers have more time to browse, compare deals, and make well-thought-out purchasing decisions. They are also likely to have done their research in advance, waiting for Black Friday to make significant purchases at discounted prices.

Ultimately, Prime Day is a tech-focused shopping spree that also sees shoppers stocking up on everyday essentials, while Black Friday is a more diverse shopping extravaganza catering to a wide range of consumer needs, particularly gifts for others. Understanding these differences is the first step for Amazon sellers to tailor their strategies and offerings for maximum impact.

Succeed all year long with Amify

No matter the time of year, you need to ensure that every aspect of your Amazon sales process moves you closer to your goals. 

At Amify, we work as an extension of your business, partnering with you at each step, including on Black Friday. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you grow your Amazon business.

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