Conventional wisdom would say a retailer shouldn’t risk cannibalizing holiday sales as well as not give consumers an opportunity to wait until the last minute because they might be enticed to buy elsewhere.
In 2018’s first understatement of the year, Amazon is anything but conventional.
The company actually elongated holiday selling efforts, beginning in September and stretching literally to the final hour before Christmas.
Sure, big revenue days were Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but Amazon catered to all, including those who turned the page on Labor Day with shopping and those who procrastinated or purposely waiting until Dec. 24 with delivery options that were as historic as unconventional.
It even prospered in year two of Prime Day in December -- 30 hours of deals for members of its Prime program — and saw the biggest sales day ever in company history.
Most noteworthy was the activity generated by rapid delivery.
According to Amazon, which for the first time offered same-day or next day delivery in 8,000 markets, the last Prime Now order in time for Christmas was delivered in 58 minutes at 11:58 p.m. on Christmas Eve in Baltimore, MD. The order included those must-haves, at least for someone -- the Kid Galaxy Amphibious RC Car Morphibians Shark Remote Control Toy, the Crayola Oil Pastels Art Tools, 28 ct., and the VTech Click and Count Remote.
“Same day and next day delivery is starting to replace store visits,” retail expert Ryan Craver told me in an interview on The Art of Mobile Persuasion podcast that posted this week (episode 23 here - https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/art-mobile-persuasion-podcast/id1156481550?mt=2).
“The big reason why we are seeing a bit of inflection point, if you think back, we didn’t have that many markets where it was available. Obviously now word of mouth plus the press has people try it for the first time and they fall in love with it.
“The second thing is the amount of product that is now available for same day delivery. Everyone knows about Amazon but there is a big behemouth called Google who offers something like Google Express that provide access to everything that Walmart, Target, and Costco sell with same day delivery.”
Craver, a key voice in my The Art of Mobile Persuasion book www.artofmobilepersuasion.com, says price plus availability makes consumers think that delivery is the way to go.
“It’s actually a decent price,” he told me “It’s a marginal fee now. You’ve got 1099 employees delivery for $5 a pop and a tip if you hit a certain price point. That is a pretty compelling consumer experience that is tough to match and it’s going to continue to grow and grow and grow.”
Customers' use of Amazon's one-day, same-day, and two-hour delivery doubled this holiday, according to the company.
As to mobile’s role in purchasing, Amazon said that mobile purchasing increased 70 percent in 2017.
Mickey Mericle, vice president, Marketing and Customer Insights at Adobe, said that “shopping and buying on smartphones is becoming the new norm and can be attributed to continued optimizations in the retail experience on mobile devices and platforms.”
Adobe reported that 75 percent of millennials expected to shop via their smartphone.
Still, Craver reminded us that there is more to do with mobile, noting that many web sites and apps don’t allow for purchase.
“There are only a few retailers who have figured out that final path to purchase,” he said.
Of course, Amazon is one of those few. And it won’t stand still. Drone delivery awaits.
(Hear Craver’s insights on the podcast this week and in a 2018 look ahead posting later this month.)