TECHNOLOGY

Tech Viewpoint: Three non-Amazon metrics to watch during Prime Day

BY Dan Berthiaume

The retail industry will be focused on Amazon’s performance this Prime Day, but some other statistics are worth tracking, too.

Retail observers are anxiously awaiting Prime Day (July 15-16) to get a better sense of how strong Amazon is right now. News flash – however the final figures turn out, Amazon is doing just fine.

But by expanding their attention beyond Amazon, industry experts can gain valuable insight into what is happening in the broader world of retail. Here are three other metrics worth following.

All the other online July sales events
Okay, so nobody is likely to closely track all the 250-plus retailers who are expected to run some type of competing Prime Day online sales event. But it is certainly worth keeping an eye on the performance of counter-Prime Day sales offered by major players such as Walmart, Target, eBay, and Newegg.

The relative success of other highly publicized online sales events will be a good indicator of how much breathing room Amazon is leaving for its major competitors in the e-commerce space. Stepping back to evaluate total e-commerce sales (minus Amazon) during the Prime Day period will also provide a sense of the current overall potential of the e-commerce market.

Twitch sells out – does anyone show up?
This one is a little bit of a cheat, as game-oriented video streaming platform Twitch is owned by Amazon, and “Twitch Sells Out” is a special online sales event occurring during Prime Day. But Twitch’s twist on Prime Day is unique enough to warrant special attention.

According to product review site MuchNeeded.com, the average Twitch user is 21 years old and 81% of Twitch users are male. Not surprisingly, Twitch Sells Out is a bro-friendly event, offering hosted streams showcasing deals on products including games and peripherals, as well as demos and gameplay of new and upcoming game releases. Viewers can become part of the action by co-streaming their real-time commentary, and “unusual” items are promised.

Can targeted programming draw Gen Z and millennial males into Prime Day festivities, softening them up to become future participants in more traditional Prime Day promotions? Or is the pull of cornhole and cold beer too strong? Find out July 15-16.

Will deliveries deliver?
Once e-commerce retailers process customer orders, the real challenge of Prime Day begins. All those products have to be delivered to waiting customers, often with the promise of arrival in two days or less. Most retailers rely on the same set of express delivery providers (such as FedEx, UPS, and USPS) to get online goods to customers.

While it is almost inevitable there will be some hiccups in every retailer fulfilling every mid-July delivery within the stated window, the frequency of problems will serve as a bellwether for the general state of online delivery. If issues are few, observers should dig in to see if retailers increased their usage of on-demand delivery options such as Uber, Lyft or Deliv, or their own proprietary services.

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