What can your business learn from Amazon Prime Day?


By Karen Wheeler, Vice President and Country Manager UK, Affinion

Since the first Amazon Prime Day in 2015, the event has quickly become an important date in most consumers’ diaries, and this year was no different. The annual day of promotional deals demonstrates exactly how businesses should look to engage with their customers and is proving that a simple focus on customer needs can go a long way to ensuring brand loyalty.

Prime Day was particularly successful for the online retail giant this year, it announced earlier this week that sales from the first 12 hours were up 89 per cent from last year, while over the 36 hours of deals consumers purchased more than 100 million products, surpassing all previous records.

In addition to its financial gains, Amazon was this month ranked at the top of the ICS UK Customer Satisfaction Index for the sixth report in a row. The retail giant clearly knows how to engage its customers, and its sales are certainly feeling the benefit of this.

But what can businesses learn from Amazon, and its showpiece event? Here are three lessons in customer engagement that all businesses should be aware of:


1.       Prioritise the customer in your business model

McKinsey’s CEO guide to customer experience suggests that a business’ strategy “begins with considering the customer – not the organisation – at the centre of the exercise”. Listening to and understanding what the customer wants has been the driving force behind many of Amazon’s products and developments.

Amazon originally launched its Prime subscription as an experiment to gauge customers’ reactions to ‘Super Saver Shipping’ and it was expected to flop. It was clearly a risk worth taking, Prime is now one of the world’s most popular membership programmes, generating $3.2bn (£2.3bn) in revenue in 2017, up 47 per cent from 2016.

A proactive approach will always go down better with the customer, and businesses must look for their own innovative solutions. Amazon is set apart by its ability to listen to what the customer wants and prioritising them over its competitors. CEO Jeff Bezos once wrote: “Many companies describe themselves as customer-focused, but few walk the walk. Most big technology companies are competitor focused. They see what others are doing, and then work to fast follow.”

Prime Day is a clear example of putting the customer first. Customers want deals and value for money, and this is exactly what they are getting from its Prime subscription, so it’s no wonder that Prime and Prime Day continue to grow. Businesses must consider the evolving needs of the customer, and provide solutions; in doing this, companies can increase the likelihood that their customers will remain loyal to them.


2.       Personalisation is now the standard

Amazon has recognised the need for analytics and has become a leader in this field. Along with technological disruptors, Amazon has provided innovative customer experience solutions, often leaving the traditional players looking reactive. The online retail giant’s innovative use of analytics has led customers to become accustomed to personalisation and actually expect it as part of their standard interaction with a business.

Prime Day is a clear example of Amazon’s commitment to analytics and personalisation. Data-led insights on customer behaviour allow Amazon to send personalised marketing messages based on members’ previous shopping habits. This allows Amazon to send relevant deals that, in turn promote loyalty and trust from its customers.

Not only does Amazon’s personalised messaging provide customers with offers that they are more likely to take up, it gives them an experience unique to them. At Affinion we believe in ‘hyper-personalisation’. It is no longer good enough to just know a customer’s history of transactions with a company and to send a birthday message, businesses have to create a truly unique customer experience.

It may seem like analytics are only relevant for giants like Amazon, but there are lessons for every business, regardless of size. Amazon stores customers’ shopping history and sends them Prime Day deals for similar products to those they have purchased in the past. Businesses have to understand that customers now expect simple interactions like deals to be personalised and provide unique experiences if they are to successfully engage with customers.


3.       Always stay innovative

Prime Day once again proved that innovative products are at the forefront of Amazon’s plans. Among the bestsellers during Prime Day 2018 were the Fire TV Stick, the Alexa Voice Remote and the Echo Dot. Amazon’s willingness to branch out to new products and services has clearly helped to broaden its offering and has shown customers that their needs are at front of the company’s mind.

Proving itself as an effective industry disruptor, Amazon has taken note of the growing need for consumer convenience in recent years. It has expanded its offering for customers, allowing them to carry out multiple tasks using Amazon products, you can now stream films on the Fire Stick, organise your life through the intelligent personal assistant Alexa or read a book on Kindle.

Additionally, Amazon has previously suggested that it could acquire a bank to break into the financial industry and potentially start its own healthcare company. These moves may be ambitious, but show the customer that Amazon is looking for ways to help them. Regardless of size and scope, businesses should always look for areas they can move in to, showing their customers that their needs are a genuine priority.


A customer first approach

Prime Day demonstrates what makes Amazon so successful. Its customer first approach dictates business decisions more than its competitors. Amazon listens to customer needs and acts accordingly, and a personalised approach to marketing ensures loyalty from members. Although Amazon is an online giant and one of the world’s biggest brands, if businesses can retain a sharp focus on the customer, like Amazon does during Prime Day, they can ensure that their customers remain engaged.