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The Unofficial Amazon Seller’s Guide to Prime Early Access Sale

Ryan Faist

Ryan Faist, Channel Key

September 23, 2022

The hottest rumor in retail has been confirmed: Amazon is hosting a major fall shopping event called Prime Early Access Sale from October 12 – 13. According to Amazon, the event will give members a chance to kick off the holiday shopping season early with hundreds of thousands of deals.

As part of the new sale, Amazon is introducing a Top 100 list to highlight some of the season’s most popular and giftable items. New deals from the list will drop throughout both days, offering deep savings across all top categories, including electronics, fashion, home, kitchen, pets, toys, and Amazon devices. Holiday gift guides and Amazon’s Toys We Love list will also make it easier for Prime members to discover, shop, and save on deals.

With Prime Early Access Sale right around the corner, brands should waste no time in preparing. This article will cut through the rumors and discuss the most important things you should know about Prime Early Access Sale.

What Previous Prime Days Can Tell Us

If there is only one certainty in the Amazon universe, it’s this: Prime member sales events are lucrative. This is true no matter what they’re called or when they take place. Remember the economic fallout from COVID in 2020? Analysts sounded alarms about the dismal state of consumer shopping. Then Amazon hosted Prime Day in October. The event generated $10.4 billion in sales, a whopping 45% increase from the previous year.

Today, the big fear is inflation. There is no doubt that rising costs are impacting customer shopping habits. Still, Prime Day 2022 raked in $11.9 billion in sales, up 8.5% from 2021. That’s not bad for a country experiencing its highest inflation rate in 30 years. The point is: Prime events always attracts shoppers at scale, whether they takes place in summer or autumn.

The 2022 Holiday Season Forecast

While we are on the topic of inflation, a new report from Deloitte sheds light on what to expect for the holiday shopping season. There is both good news and bad news. First, the obvious: holiday sales are expected to slow this year due to economic downturn. Note the term slow. Deloitte forecasts holiday sales will reach $1.45 trillion this year, an estimated 5% YoY increase. In 2021, holiday sales grew about 15%. So, while the growth rate is expected to decline this year, sales are expected to increase.

Even more encouraging is the forecast for ecommerce. Deloitte projects online sales will grow by 12.8% to 14.3% to reach between $260 and $264 billion. Last year, ecommerce sales grew by only 8.4%.

These numbers are relevant to Prime Early Access Sale because of the timing. While a date has yet to be revealed, many analysts predict the event will take place the second week of October. It wouldn’t be the first time. You may remember when Amazon pushed Prime Day 2020 to October 13 and 14 due to the pandemic. The timing worked perfectly. The highly anticipated event not only generated record sales, but also kick-started the holiday shopping season. If history is any indication of the future, Prime Early Access Sale will have the same effect this year.

Preparing for Prime Early Access Sale

To prepare for Prime Early Access Sale, Channel Key recommends taking the same steps you followed when getting ready for Prime Day. This comes down to a three-phase advertising strategy designed to maximize traffic and conversions:

  1. Phase One: Promote Your Deals & Brand to Customers Researching Products
    The lead-up to Prime Early Access Sale is the time to highlight the value of your promoted products and brand to customers who are actively researching products. This will help make your promoted products and deals even more discoverable and increase conversions on the day of the event. You can also use this time to optimize your campaign inputs, such as audiences and keyword strategies, so that your campaigns are running at maximum performance on Prime Early Access Sale.
  2. Phase Two: Convert Brand-Aware Shoppers Who Are Ready to Purchase
    Customers will be ready to purchase on Prime Early Access Sale because they know the event will not last long. This is the time to utilize additional marketing levers to help maximize conversions among audiences that have already seen your ads. For example, you can remarket to audiences that visited your product detail pages before Prime Early Access Sale to stay top of mind on the day of the event.
  3. Phase Three: Re-Engage Your Audiences at Scale to Maximize Sales
    Brands will likely enjoy a “halo effect” after Prime Early Access Sale ends. According to Adobe Digital Insights, retailers experienced up to a 50% increase in sales in the days following previous Prime Day events. To maximize sales during this time, promote complementary products to your existing audiences or reach new audiences who did not purchase your products during Prime Early Access Sale through retargeting.

The Best Promotion Type for Prime Early Access Sale

Amazon provides a wide range of marketing and advertising tools to help promote your products during both sale and non-sale events. Below are four of the most popular Amazon promotions for sellers during Prime Early Access Sale, along with our recommendations for this year’s event:

  • Prime Exclusive Discount (most recommended)
    Channel Key recommends Prime Exclusive Discounts for our clients during Prime Early Access Sale. A Prime Exclusive Discount is a price reduction available only to Prime members.  These are free to run and display a prominent badge on your listing, which helps distinguish it from surrounding listings. Product offers with a Prime Exclusive Discount will show a discounted price with the regular price crossed out. Buyers will also see a savings summary in search results and on product detail pages. Prices adjusted for discounts are displayed on the Featured Offer detail page for Prime members.
  • Coupons
    Like the coupons you receive in the mail, Amazon coupons provide a discount on select items. Since shoppers want the best deals on Prime Day, using Coupons can be an effective way to distinguish your products by offering additional savings. For example, Channel Key ran a 20% Off Coupon for a client in the Toys & Games category during a previous Prime Day, which improved conversions by 22%.
  • Deal of the Day
    A Deal of the Day is an item that is discounted for one day only. These are displayed all day on the Deals page (and receive the highest placement), which is one of the most popular pages on Prime Day. Unfortunately, running a Deal of the Day can be difficult – especially during Prime Day. To be eligible, you must be a Professional Seller with at least five Seller Feedback Ratings per month and an overall rating of at least 3.5 stars. More importantly, you will need support from Amazon to get approval for this type of promotion.
  • Lightning Deals
    A Lightning Deal is a promotion in which a limited number of discounts are offered on an item for a brief period (usually six hours). Lightning Deals display a countdown ticker (and special badging on Prime Day), establishing a sense of urgency. Sellers can apply for these promotions via their Seller Central dashboard. While the competition is high on Prime Day, Lightning Deals typically boost sales for popular and top-selling items. That said, Lightning Deals can also take a significant bite out of your margin. In addition to the fee for creating a Lightning Deal, you also need to factor in the cost of the discount. Since shoppers expect the biggest deals of the year on Prime Day, you will need to run a significant discount to stand out from the competition and attract the attention of shoppers. For these reasons, running Lightning Deals on Prime Early Access Sale might not be the best way to generate profitable sales unless you are promoting a product in high demand.

PRO TIP: Whatever promotions you decide to run during Prime Early Access Sale, Channel Key recommends using Sponsored Products to help drive traffic to these listings. If customers can’t find your promotions, you won’t generate sales. Raising your bids and/or daily budgets for ad campaigns that drive traffic to Prime Exclusive Discounts is a powerful way to boost sales during high-volume events on Amazon.

Key Differences Between Prime Day and Prime Early Access Sale

Prime Early Access Sale will be similar to its summer counterpart in most ways, but there will be two main differences. The first has to do with the change in seasons. The products you promoted during Prime Day might not be the best products to promote in October. For example, suppose your brand sells smart sprinkler systems. You might have enjoyed a successful Prime Day in July promoting this product, but winter is coming. Fewer people will be in the market for a sprinkler system when snow is in the forecast.

On the other hand, Prime Early Access Sale might be a great opportunity to promote items that were not in-season during the summer. A sporting goods brand might leverage Prime Early Access Sale to promote its winter sports catalog. This is an ideal time to build early sales momentum for products that you plan to promote during the next several months.

The other major difference between  Prime Day and Prime Early Access Sale involves inventory planning. When Prime Day is in October, the holiday shopping season is right around the corner. To be eligible for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Amazon sellers must have inventory in fulfillment centers by November 2nd. This provides a short window for sellers who wait until after Prime Early Access Sale to plan for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. To avoid missing inventory deadlines during a time when fulfillment centers will be overloaded and inbound shipments will likely take longer, Channel Key recommends planning your holiday inventory sooner rather than later.

Channel Key Takeaway

October is an important month for Amazon sellers. For decades, Black Friday served as the unofficial kickoff to the holiday season. Those days are over. Last year, major retailers like Walmart and Target hosted pre-Black Friday sales that ran through much of November. With Amazon’s Prime Early Access Sale now confirmed, retailers will be even more inclined to offer fall and early holiday sales to remain competitive. The good news is: total holiday sales and ecommerce sales are both expected to grow. Whether or not your brand participates in Prime Early Access Sale, the 2022 holiday shopping season will be lucrative for Amazon sellers.

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