This year, everyone’s favorite yard sale was back.
July 12 has been designated by Amazon as the day du jour to celebrate their existence and their Prime members by selling off unwanted junk, often discounted only by a few cents. It’s a weird time for the internet.
The first annual Prime Day, held in 2015, was billed to be a sale bigger than Black Friday. It turned out that the only thing it did bigger than Black Friday was disappointment. I ended up writing an article discussing in depth the problems with Amazon’s “sale to end all sales”.
Here are the three main problems I identified with the 2015 sale:
- The UI was extremely poor. It was difficult to find anything on sale, and navigating was a nightmare. Halfway through the day, Amazon tried to rectify the problem with a half-baked homepage that categorized things a little better – but it didn’t improve the overall experience much.
- The structure of the sale, combined with the items that were discounted, was confusing and disappointing. The sale was run as a series of flash sales, but set up in a way that was reminiscent of an off-price retailer: it required much searching. Essentially, it was like walking into a Nordstrom Rack, being given 15 minutes to find something special, and realizing about 5 minutes into your mad dash that there was nothing special to be had.
- The marketing team’s messaging did not match up with the sale. In the days preceding Prime Day, we were treated to ads informing us the Amazon was going to throw a sale with better sales than even Black Friday. It was going to be the greatest shopping day of all time. However, it quickly became apparent that the stuff that was on sale for Prime Day was all fairly useless junk, not the treasures we had been promised.
So my question this year was: Did Amazon fix the mistakes of Prime Days past? Or were they going to fall into the same traps again this year? Unfortunately, 2016 Prime Day really only fixed about half of the problems listed above. Let’s talk about it.
1. The 2016 UI was moderately better than last year’s.
This year, the Amazon homepage took you to page with a Facebook timeline-esque line dividing directional boxes. I’m including screenshots, because it’s hard to describe:
While better than last year’s homepage, it’s still quite a lot of information to take in on one page, and tends to be more overwhelming than encouraging. Personally, I think that all they needed on the homepage were the “Spotlight Deals” and “Sales by Category” boxes.
The landing pages for all of these boxes, however, still tended to be very cluttered and disorganized, much like last year’s. The only pages that showed improvement over last year’s were the “Shop by Department” links, which took you to very organized pages clearly displaying all the deals in a single category.
A further problem with the UI was that it was impossible to navigate back to that particular homepage seamlessly. Homepage links on the site itself took you to the disorganized “Spotlight Deals” page.
So Amazon gets half credit for this particular point.
2. The structure of the sale and discounted items were no better than last year.
Unfortunately, Amazon went 0/0 on this point. They ran the same disorganized flash sales on mostly useless items, like toilet bowl nightlights.
This was a major disappointment, as it was the area of improvement most loudly called for last year by the internet at large.
3. Amazon Prime Day 2016 had much better marketing.
It would seem that Amazon decided that, in lieu of fixing the sale, they would just make sure their marketing messaging dropped to match the sale. In the week leading up to Prime Day, ads were filled with messaging announcing Amazon’s “big” sale, but no phrases like “better than Black Friday” were tossed around.
So overall, Amazon did little to address the failings of last year. It seems as though the company realized that a mediocre sale still brought them a 93% raise in sales, and they were perfectly fine for settling for that again this year.
Of course – Amazon is unlikely to see that 93% bump in sales this year for one particular reason: their “add to cart” technology crashed early in the day, preventing people for hours from actually purchasing anything. With an error this big, they can’t overlook fixing things for next year.
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