Canadian Retailers Prepare for Monday’s Amazon Prime Day 

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By Craig Patterson

The phenomena known as Amazon Prime Day starts next Monday, with the promise to drive considerable sales to participating small and medium-sized retailers. Some will see such high sales numbers that the 36-hour Prime Day is being compared to the Christmas rush that is typically seen in November and December and for some retailers, Prime Day’s sales surpass those of the traditional winter Holiday Season. 

 PHoto: Spektrum Glasses

PHoto: Spektrum Glasses

Prime Day 2018 starts on Monday, July 16 at 12 pm PT/3 p.m. ET, and customers can shop the deals from businesses selling on Amazon at amazon.ca/primeday.

“Prime Day helps small and medium businesses reach more than 100 million paid Prime members around the world, and provides an opportunity for the smallest of businesses to sell right alongside the biggest household brands,” said Nicholas Denissen, VP Marketplace Business, Amazon. “In fact, Prime members ordered more than 40 million items from small and medium-sized businesses during Prime Day 2017, generating record-breaking success for those entrepreneurs.”

The idea behind Prime is for Amazon to provide unlimited fast, free shipping to its members who pay an annual premium for the privilege. In Toronto and Vancouver, Prime members can get free same-day delivery. In six other Canadian cities, Amazon Prime entices with free two-day shipping. Globally, more than 100-million people globally are Amazon Prime members, who are able to use the platform to purchase products as well as entertainment. In Canada, that includes unlimited access to award-winning movies and TV episodes with Prime Video, access to over one-million songs on Prime Music, unlimited photo storage with Prime Photos, Twitch Prime, and early access to select Lightning Deals, among other benefits.

 Screen shot from a vendor prior to Prime Day -- come Monday, prices will be reduced. 

Screen shot from a vendor prior to Prime Day -- come Monday, prices will be reduced. 

Last year on Amazon Prime Day 2017, thousands of small and medium-sized businesses saw more than $50,000 in sales. It’s a remarkable feat, considering that retail sales numbers in mid-July are typically unremarkable for most retailers. 

Canadian retailers are embracing Prime Day as well, as Amazon continues to gain market share as it attracts more Canadian shoppers. Canada is a rapidly growing market for Amazon Prime subscribers, especially as the annual Prime membership fee in Canada remained the same ($79) while at the same time it was raised in the United States over the spring.  

 Photo: Blackstone Naturals

Photo: Blackstone Naturals

“We take part in Prime Day every year, and every year proves to be more successful than the last. Prime Day has not only been our highest grossing sales day, but it has also resulted in a strong repeat customer base by exposing our high-quality Canadian products to customers who were not aware of our brand,” said Baber Khimani, head of Blackstone Naturals from Mississauga. Mr. Khimani’s company retails natural skin care and aromatherapy products and is offering up to 40% off selected Argan, Moroccan and Beard Oils from its own brand. 

Mr. Kimani’s comments are reflective of a potential shift in online retail from the typically busier pre-winter holiday season, where many retailers make the bulk of their sales. Other retailers share similar stories. 

“Prime Day is an incredible opportunity for us to reach new customers that are interested in our products. The sales increase we see on Prime Day tops any other sale our business participates in. It's our favourite day of the year!” said James Edwards, President of Spektrum Glasses in Vancouver. Again, it would appear that Amazon Prime Day has become an incredibly important part of this independent retailer’s business where in years past, July would generally have been an average month. Spektrum Glasses creates computer glasses that reflect blue light away from the lens and relieve long-term eye strain caused by excessive electronic device use — probably something many of us might consider investing in and during Prime Day, the company is offering up to 32% off selected computer glasses. 

 Photo: Little Bot Inc. 

Photo: Little Bot Inc. 

Retailers Canada-wide are optimistic that Amazon Prime Day will be a huge success — even those who are still relatively new to the game. “Prime Day is an amazing day! Last year we sold more than 10 times what we do on an average day in less than three hours. I remember refreshing my phone last year and seeing the number skyrocketing, it was so exciting! This is our second Prime Day and we will be offering more products to our customers this year,” said Tao Guo, head of Little Bot Inc. from Toronto. The retailer, known for its fun and trendy baby items made from safe non-toxic products, is offering up to 32% off during Prime Day. 

 The team from Nested Naturals pose for a photo at the corner of West Hastings Street and Hornby Street in Downtown Vancouver 

The team from Nested Naturals pose for a photo at the corner of West Hastings Street and Hornby Street in Downtown Vancouver 

One of the goals of Prime Day, as well, is to obtain new customers that might otherwise not have bought from the company in the past. “Prime Day is a celebration of Amazon offering amazing deals to customers and driving strong sales for small businesses. As a small business, it’s an incredible opportunity to easily reach tens of thousands of new customers. We highly recommend participating in Prime Day,” said Kevin Pasco, co-Founder and CMO at Nested Naturals from Vancouver. Known for its natural supplements, Nested Naturals is offering up to 23% off selected vegan capsules and sleep aid tablets from their own brand. 

Increased sales and new customers are expected by Montreal-based GoWood, with company representative Tania Brassard saying, “The visibility and success we have on Prime Day is incomparable. Not only do we get a massive boost of sales, but also huge exposure to new clients. We're sure this year won't be any different.” Her company is known for its wood sunglasses and wood phone cases, made from bamboo and/or wood materials that are recycled or planted for production. During Amazon Prime Day, GoWood is offering up to 20% off selected wood glasses and phone cases. 

It will be interesting to see the results of 2018’s Amazon Prime Day in Canada, as retailers are increasingly relying on the brief event to drive sales to their online stores. The Canadian retail industry is seeing considerable disruption from all directions, with online retail continuing to see considerable gains when compared to brick-and-mortar retail growth. Nevertheless, more than 90% of all retail sales are done in physical stores but as platforms such as Amazon continue to make inroads and create consumer habits, online will continue to see an increasing share in Canadian consumer dollars. 

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Craig Patterson, now based in Toronto, is the founder and Editor-in-Chief Retail Insider. He's also a retail and real estate consultant, retail tour guide and public speaker. 

Follow him on Twitter @RetailInsider_, LinkedIn at Craig Patterson, or email him at: craig@retail-insider.com.

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