Amazon’s Prime Day sales event starts Tuesday, but some shoppers have been browsing deals for weeks — hoping to snag an invite-only discount.
Part of an ever-expanding Prime Day, Amazon rolled out a new, invitation-only deals program ahead of this year’s sale. The program allows customers to request an invitation to purchase discounted items that Amazon expects might sell out, including things like a Fire TV or noise-canceling headphones.
There are a limited number of products available through the invitations, Amazon says, and once an invitation is in hand, customers have until the end of the two-day sales event to make the purchase, a spokesperson said.
The invitations have been available for browsing for the last three weeks, Amazon said. Customers will no longer be allowed to request most invitations at the start of Prime Day but some deals may have extended periods, the company added.
To secure an invite, customers click a yellow button on an item’s product page. Shoppers can only request one invite for a product and can only purchase one of those products if they do get an invitation. Customers can request invites for several different products. Amazon will notify customers if they have gotten the invite.
It’s not yet clear how many customers requested invitations.
Lesley Hensell, the co-founder of Riverbend Consulting, which works with third-party sellers on Amazon’s digital marketplace, expects Amazon may be testing out the invitation-only deals this year as a beta-type program and looking to expand in the future.
“Amazon builds a lot of things in flight,” she said. “The plane is already off the ground and they’re still building.”
She compared the new offering to the evolution of Prime Day since Amazon first rolled it out in 2015. At the start, there was a lot of confusion among sellers and not a lot of information from Amazon. Now, “it’s like a well-oiled machine,” she said.
Since 2015, Prime Day has continued to expand in length, discounts offered and ways to shop. It grew from a 24-hour event in its first year to 30 hours in 2017, 36 in 2018 and 48 in 2019, according to research from analysts at J.P. Morgan & Co.
The sale was first offered in nine countries and has now expanded to 24, the analysts found. Amazon grew the number of discounts offered from thousands in 2015 to hundreds of thousands in 2017, over 1 million in 2018 and over 2 million in 2021.
Analysts from J.P. Morgan expect this year’s Prime Day will generate $7 billion of revenue for Amazon, up 12% from the roughly $6.2 billion Amazon brought in from the 2022 sales event.
In a report ahead of the sale, the analysts touted Amazon’s faster delivery speeds for Prime members as a selling point that would drive customers to the platform this year. But, they cautioned “macro headwinds” could continue to put pressure on consumer spending.
In 2022, Amazon said it sold more items during its Prime Day event than any other year, totaling 300 million that year. Ahead of the 2023 event, Amazon said it’s now offering more deals than any other Prime Day event. It plans to drop new deals every 30 minutes “during select periods,” according to a news release.
Last year, Amazon also added a second sales event — Prime Early Access — in October that offered a similar day of discounts and kick-started the holiday shopping season.
Hensell, from Riverbend Consulting, expects sellers to be “champing at the bit” to get a product listed through the invitation-only program because it would make their listing even more visible to consumers.
“Competition on Amazon is really fierce right now and a lot of sellers are struggling,” Hensell said. “Any opportunity to blow out some inventory they overstocked or to try to sell a lot of units. … (The sellers) want it so badly they can taste it.”
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