How eBay and Catch competed with Prime Day

Last week, Australian shoppers descended upon Amazon’s site to take part in Prime Day. The event started early in Australia compared to overseas, which may have given the local website a slight bump, extending out to a total uptime of 65 hours of sales. 

Amazon Australia country manager Rocco Braeuniger said the marketplace was delighted to see a record number of Prime members in Australia partaking in the sales event.

Though Amazon didn’t share much in the way of specific sales numbers, retail analytics firm Hitwise shared its findings based on data collected through the event, revealing total visits to Amazon’s local domain increased 72.4 per cent compared to the Prime Day period last year. 

Additionally, total transactions grew 50.4 per cent to almost 170,000, while conversion rate fell from 7.2 per cent last year to 6.3 per cent, likely the result of more consumers browsing on the local site rather than its global counterpart. 

Amazon’s ambitions to tackle the Australian supermarket duopoly of Coles and Woolworths seem to have gathered some steam as well, with searches for Omo laundry powder entering the top 10 searches over the period in 2019 – indicating consumers are beginning to view Amazon as an alternative for essential products. 

[SUBHEAD] The next Black Friday?

However, Amazon was not the only online marketplace to hold a sales event between the July 15 and 17, with eBay and Catch also offering consumers heavily discounted goods with attractive shipping options. 

Both Catch and eBay pointed to the fact that unlike Amazon, they do not require customers to have a paid membership in order to take part in their events. 

“Australians want great deals without always having to subscribe to a club subscription. In this case, benefits from the halo effect by providing amazing deals for everyone,” Catch Group chief marketing officer Ryan Gracie told Inside Retail Weekly

“We see these events as a great reason to engage our 1.6 million active customers and re-engage those who aren’t so active. Of course, there are lower margins than usual, but we make it work and these events help gain new loyal customers.”

On a larger scale, however, consumers have been trained to wait for large-scale shopping events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

With so many retailers offering discounted prices and improved shipping at once, it’s possible this may lead to the birth of a tentpole shopping event – one not necessarily tied to Amazon. 

According to Shippit joint chief executive and co-founder Rob Hango-Zada, a halo effect is beginning to form around the Prime Day weekend, where shoppers are exploring their options online and even other retailers are receiving more orders.

“Only those with compelling everyday low pricing and free or flat shipping rates tend to benefit from not partaking in a promotional event,” Hango-Zada said. 

“Online retailers have the unique opportunity of creating sales events – we saw this with the advent of Afterpay Day late last year that repeated again in March. It does go some way to shifting the needle, but from all reports, we hear that this simply pulls traditional buying forward at a discount. 

“The discounting in online retail is reaching a point of unsustainability, as it’s not just triggering offline shoppers to buy online, but online shoppers to pull forward their spend.”

Additional reporting by Heather McIlvaine


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