How Amazon Generated Real Business With a Fake Holiday

Prime Day demonstrates that Amazon never stands still

Amazon must have been watching in 2014, when Alibaba set an all-time world record for e-commerce on Nov. 11, China’s Singles’ Day. It didn’t take the Seattle-based e-tailer long to concoct its own 24-hour sales-travaganza: Prime Day, July 12, in which 100,000 items were on sale.

While Alibaba was piggy-backing on an existing tradition that celebrated the country’s singles, Amazon created Prime Day to celebrate itself.

No matter; it’s worked. Much as Signet’s been able to turn two-stone rings into a trend almost by will, the second edition of Prime Day was the biggest sales day in Amazon’s history—topping traditonal champs such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Even more impressive, Prime Day deals weren’t available to all its customers—only Prime members (which, to be fair, covers an estimated 54 million households).

Of course, only a company with Amazon’s scale can pull off something like this. But many comparable companies don’t even try. This year, Wal-Mart and J.C. Penney offered July sales to rival—or just grab a piece of—Prime Day. But that just shows who’s leading the parade. As Retail Dive put it: “Amazon is innovating, and everyone else is imitating.”

Which may be the point: If Amazon didn’t constantly come out with up new gadgets, products, and categories, it would still be successful. It might even be more profitable. And yes, sometimes it comes across as greedy, and it’s had its share of notable flops (including with jewelry).

But it never stands still, even as it has grown long-in-the-tooth by tech standards. That has morphed it from a Goliath of e-commerce to a Goliath of retail, period. By 2017, analysts predict it will be the leading apparel seller in the United States, outranking Macy’s. And just last week, its market capitalization topped Berkshire Hathaway’s, making it the fifth most valuable public company in America.

For Amazon is a company that doesn’t just create its own luck. It creates its own holidays.

(Photo courtesy of Amazon)

JCK News Director