Prime Example of Bad PR or Bad Logistics?

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Blowing up Big, But Not as Expected

“Prime Day is a one-day event held on July 15, 2015, where Prime members can find more deals than Black Friday” announced Amazon on its North American sites prior to the event. It wouldn’t be just an unofficial commercial holiday, but a “global shopping event” the company stated in a press release.

However, shortages in popular sale items and mediocre to miniscule discounts on other items led to a strong social media backlash to Prime Day which included hashtags such as #UnhappyPrimeDay, #AmazonFail, #GoBackToSleep, and #PrimeDayFail.

Some of those tweets can be seen here:

An article on TechCrunch.com which cited data released by Adobe which aggregated counter sales across over 4 million social mentions on blogs, Twitter, Instagram, WordPress, Reddit, Foursquare and elsewhere, gave interesting details regarding the nascent holiday.

  • By late afternoon on Prime Day, the event had 90,000 social mentions, but by the same point, Black Friday 2014 had seen 20 times the number of mentions during the same time period (or 1.6 million)
  • Half of the social media mentions in the U.S expressed sadness as many of the negative tweets it found were pointing to less-desirable items, like socks, microfiber towels and Adam Sandler movies
  • Sentiment for the #PrimeDay hashtag went from 10% negative sentiment before the sale to 24% negative once sales launched
  • Combined @Amazon and the #PrimeDay hashtag have had a sizeable dip in sentiment since the sales launched receiving a combined 41,434 negative mentions from users

All Style, But Where’s the Substance?

Amazon obviously put a lot of time and money into promoting their Prime Day event. The company hoped it would eclipse Black Friday as the premier shopping holidays.

In their effort to make Prime Day big, Amazon seems to have forgot a simple logistical concept regarding inventory management 101 – knowing what they had.

As an article on Entrpreneur.com points out, the reason for ho-hum attitude of some customers had to do with lower-than-expected inventory for popular items, and unimpressive “discounts” such as these.

The frankly bizarre items with massive discounts was neither here nor there, but it did lead to some amusing screen captures and captions.

Boom or bust for Amazon?

Amazon did well. Very well in fact. Hiroku Tabuchi, wrote in this New York times article,

Independent data confirmed the sales surge. ChannelAdvisor, which tracks third-party sales on Amazon, said that Amazon’s sales on Wednesday jumped 93 percent in the United States and 53 percent in Europe compared with the same day of the week last year

Despite the sales number, many analysts agree that Prime Day has been a PR disaster for Amazon, a fact made worse because as of this article, the company has offered no apologies.

“In the long run, that means Amazon’s decision to ignore the backlash could have longer-lasting effects beyond the Prime Day sales boost”, writes Sarah Perez of TechCrunch.com. “Consumers who were on the fence about the value of Amazon Prime may think poorly of Amazon’s brand following the bad social media buzz”.

The question now is: “Can those spurned Prime members muster enough goodwill to stay signed up after their trial expires?”, only time will tell.

Until then, we’re left with some amusing tweets.

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