How Fashion Retailers Can Compete Against Amazon Prime Days6 min read
The 48-hour mega sale is back to a July slot for the first time since 2019. Though the official date has not yet been confirmed, what we can be sure of is retailers running competitive sales to win market share back from Amazon.
And with the first day of deals driving the most online sales for the ecomm giant in 2021, surpassing $5.6 bn, this year is anticipated to be bigger than ever.
Using EDITED Retail Intelligence, we assessed how the industry’s 2021 deals stacked up to previous years and the discounting strategies retailers put in place to trade competitively.
Interested in knowing how EDITED can help uncover your competitors discounting strategies? Get started here.
Direction & Early Trends for 2022
Markdowns will be Conservative
The defining discounting trend to come out of the pandemic is a more pared-back approach to sales as retailers opt for strategies to support their financial recovery. The uncertain landscape paved by new lockdowns in China and continued supply chain struggles will mean retailers remain cautious about slashing prices dramatically over Prime Days. Last year saw a focus on discounting a wide assortment of products at a more subtle markdown – optimal to keep margins intact. Ensure average discount depths don’t exceed 40% and offer discount codes for loyal customers on products that require a steeper reduction to sell through.
Support Small Businesses and Give Back
In the lead-up to the event last year, Amazon rewarded consumers for shopping small businesses with discounts to be used over Prime Days. This strategy can be implemented at multi-brand retailers to highlight artisans or local labels. As The Kindness Economy born from the pandemic continues to be prevalent, discount-adverse retailers can use Prime Days to raise awareness for sustainability or human rights events in July, such as Plastic Free July, Malala Day and Nelson Mandela Day.
Fashion World Email US – Jun 21, 2021 & Aforprick via Amazon
A Return to Summer Sales
Though Amazon has not yet confirmed the exact days, the event will return to a July slot for the first time since 2019, with the internet predicting the 18th and 19th. Use the time to clear summer stock ahead of new season drops. However, with fewer restrictions around travel than have been permitted since pre-pandemic times causing a boom in vacation wear, seasonal categories might not need as much incentive to move as in the past few years. Evaluate the performance of swimwear and dresses before setting them up for heavy markdowns and avoid reducing hot products with transseasonal appeal. Cargos, mini skirts and dresses and linen have longevity to continue selling at full price.
Back-to-School Back in Focus
Traditionally, Prime Day was used to kickstart BTS shopping. Its return to a July window makes it the opportune time to sync communications promoting school and college product edits. Working in collegiate apparel, uniforms, footwear and backpacks into pre-and post-Prime offers as the event usually influences month-long sales advertising.
Monki Email UK – Apr 5, 2022 & Athleta Email US – May 1, 2022
Lessons From 2021
The discounts taken
Site-wide offers by core fashion retailers differed from the past two years. Discount proportions in the US shot up, eclipsing even pre-pandemic levels. In 2020, discount depths were more conservative over Prime to counterbalance the aggressive markdowns taken throughout the year.
The average reduction came in slightly higher at 30-31% this year, which still undercut 2019’s 41%. The UK followed a similar pattern with the breadth of products discounted aligning closer to 2019 after last year’s dip. However, the second day of sales saw proportions fall three percentage points. The average discount depth held at 40% from last year, more shallow than in 2019.
Returning to a summer slot seemed to be a good move. The number of items selling out of the majority of SKUs were up 41% in the US and 35% in the UK YoY. Despite this, the sell outs were below pre-pandemic Prime levels, down 7% in the US and 13% in the UK vs. 2019.
This discrepancy suggests that while consumers are prioritizing themselves for summer, fashion spending hasn’t fully rebounded. The discount brackets seeing the highest proportion of sell outs were between 20-30% in both regions and lower than the average market discount, proving retailers don’t need to make drastic cuts and sacrifice margins to generate hype for sales events.
The categories reduced
While tops had the most significant proportion discounted it also had the shallowest markdown, suggesting US retailers protected WFH culture’s star category from severe reductions. In this region, accessories experienced the most aggressive discount, with retailers targeting bags and jewelry.
Based on communications, outlined below, retailers wove Prime Day promotions with summer sales, leading to over half of swimwear and dress assortments reduced across both markets with an average discount between 33-48% and 40-43% off, respectively.
With Prime Day coinciding with the UK’s original “freedom day” of restrictions ending, retailers took the opportunity to clear products reminiscent of the traditional pandemic wardrobe to inspire better days ahead. The average discount depth for loungewear exceeded dresses with sweatpants and hoodies at 41% and sweatshirts at 42%.
Key messages & offers
A yearly theme, explicit mentions of “Prime” sales were slipped into communications to win back consumers from Amazon. While membership offers were promoted, other retailers like Target, DSW and Venus clapped back at the ecomm giant, advertising “no membership required.” Many retailers reframed the event as a summer sale while UK retailers promoted 21% off deals – a riff on the original date to move out of restrictions.
The highest number of sale emails were sent on the second day, with 50% off the most common percentage communicated. Some retailers dug deeper with ASOS, Nasty Gal, Uncommon Sense and Ru La La stretching their offers up to 80%. Also one of the most-discounted categories, dresses featured primarily in category-specific offers.
A selection of noteworthy discount codes that stood out within retailer email communications between Jun 21 – 22, 2021:
- Fashion World (US) – PRIME – Get 25% off
- DSW (US) – MAJORDEAL – 20% off
- Club Monaco (US) – 48HOURS – Extra 40% off sale
- ASOS (UK) – FINALSALE – Extra 25% off sale
- Clarks (UK) – SUNNY20 – Take an extra 20% off sale styles
- INDOCHINO (US) – PRIMETIME – $100 off select suits
- Coggles (UK) – EXTRA10 – Extra 10% off sale
- Gap (UK) – GAPDAYS – 40% off including sale styles
Images via Francesca’s Email US – Jun 21, 2021; Gap Factory Email US – Jun 22, 2021; Sweaty Betty Email US – Jun 21, 2021
Images via Vero Moda Email UK – Jun 22, 2021; H&M Email UK – Jun 21, 2021
No membership required
Images via Aèropostale Email US – Jun 22, 2021; Venus Email US – Jun 22, 2021
Images via French Connection Email UK – Jun 21, 2021; Peacocks Email UK – Jun 21, 2021; Old Navy Email US – Jun 21, 2021
Images via Lyle & Scott Email UK – Jun 22, 2021; Diesel Email US – Jun 21, 2021; Hunter Email UK – Jun 21, 2021
Images via Horchow US – Jun 21, 2021; & Other Stories Email UK – Jun 22, 2021; Jigsaw Email UK – Jun 21, 2021
Images via Erdem Email US – Jun 22, 2021; Banana Republic Email UK – Jun 21, 2021; Lulu Guinness Email UK – Jun 22, 2021
Images via Forever 21 Email US – Jun 21, 2021; Nasty Gal Email US – Jun 21, 2021; ASOS Email UK – Jun 21, 2021
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Note: Average discount % does not include basket codes applied at checkout.