Have You Started Your Black Friday Shopping Yet?

Although Black Friday is still days away, Amazon shoppers are already in the thick of it. The company last Friday launched an eight-day-long “Black Friday” sale. It’s “Black Friday Deals Week” in Amazon-speak.

New deals are surfacing as often as every five minutes.

Customers will have access to 10 Deals of the Day starting at midnight on Thanksgiving, and up to 10 more this Friday — the traditional Black Friday.

Further, there will be more than 150 limited-time Lightning Deals available only through the Amazon Mobile Shopping App, from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. PT, starting on Thanksgiving Day and running through Wednesday Dec. 9. Amazon Prime members will get access to the Lightning Deals 30 minutes ahead of other shoppers.

Prime members in 20 metro areas can get free two-hour delivery on select Deals of the Day throughout the holiday season when they use the dedicated Prime Now mobile app.

“This is an attempt for Amazon to provide even more convenience to shoppers,” remarked Scott Pulsipher, president of Needle. “Any time a retailer increases convenience, it increases propensity for purchasing, and when they deliver on that promise, they build loyalty and trust with customers.”

The Prime Numbers

Offering Prime members extra perks is paying off for Amazon. Prime members convert search to purchases 74 percent of the time, compared to 13 percent for non-Prime members, Internet Retailer reported, citing Millward Brown Digital research.

Prime members convert only 6 percent of the time on average when they shop at other online retailers such as Walmart, Target, and Home Depot, according to the report. The average conversion rate is 3.32 percent for the top 500 merchants.

Amazon “has the data, resources, and people to convert site searchers more effectively,” noted Justin Fogarty, senior product marketing manager at BloomReach.

Site search is important for Amazon “because they have such a huge catalog,” he told the E-Commerce Times.

Stretching It Out

Amazon’s eight-day sale gives consumers confidence they’ll be able to find deals on their own time, Needle’s Pulsipher observed.

It “potentially reconditions shopper behavior to not rely so heavily on singular sales events, [and] builds loyalty and frequent visits among consumers,” he told the E-Commerce Times.

Further, it gives Amazon time to adjust sales and promotions based on customer behavior, Pulsipher said.

On the other hand, it might make estimating and judging shopper sentiment more difficult, he added, because information is gathered over a period of time rather than instantly.

Fighting the Juggernaut

Amazon has 44 percent of the online search market, BloomReach found, and given its high conversion rate, it looms large over online and brick-and-mortar competition.

“Amazon’s going to pull lots of other multiproduct retailers forward in offering deals, both online and in-store, because in omnichannel, the two must align,” BloomReach CMO Joelle Kaufman told the E-Commerce Times.

Wamart responded to Amazon’s eight-day sale by launching a price comparison site — “Dare to Compare” — for certain products, running price checks throughout the day, and revising its deals every 15 to 60 minutes.

Walmart also has announced that it will jump the gun on Cyber Monday, beginning to offer deals on the preceding Sunday evening.

FreeShipping.com will offer new and current members 20 percent cashback at 30 popular retail sites, including Best Buy, Kohl’s and Kmart, from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday.

Amazon’s holiday promotions “will continue to have a negative impact for all stores, large and small,” said Matt Chosid, CEO at PriceLocal.

PriceLocal lets shoppers nationwide browse on Amazon and then get a price match on its site from local stores willing to match Amazon Prime prices. The service is free to consumers and retailers.

It had a “wildly successful pilot” in Ann Arbor, Michigan, last year, Chosid told the E-Commerce Times.

While Amazon dominates online sales, more than 92 percent of purchases still are made in-store, Chosid pointed out, citing U.S. Commerce Department statistics. Amazon commands just 5 percent of retail sales.

Richard Adhikari

Richard Adhikari has written about high-tech for leading industry publications since the 1990s and wonders where it's all leading to. Will implanted RFID chips in humans be the Mark of the Beast? Will nanotech solve our coming food crisis? Does Sturgeon's Law still hold true? You can connect with Richard on Google+.

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