For online retail giant Amazon and its customers, Black Friday started two weeks ago.
Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is noted as the first “official” day of Christmas shopping in the U.S. Customers of both traditional stone and mortar retailers, as well as online stores like Amazon, are lured by special offers and sales.
Two weeks ago Amazon launched its Black Friday online store for window shopping purposes, and last week opened the store for actual buying, a whole week before Black Friday .
To keep interested customers tuned in, the company has been adding new Black Friday deals every five minutes since then. In 2014, it offered three “Black Friday deals of the day”, starting at midnight on Thanksgiving, as well as three more on Black Friday. This year it’s offering ten at the stroke of midnight on both days.
And as even more of a lure to shop, Amazon says it is offering app-only deals and two-hour delivery on certain items throughout the Thanksgiving holiday. Customers can mark the deals they most covet through a feature called “Watch a Deal,” which sends notifications to their smartphones once the offer is live.
Steve Shure, Amazon’s vice president of consumer marketing says, “Customers can truly sit back and relax with their family and friends this holiday season knowing that they will be notified as soon as the products they’ve had their eye on are about to go on sale."
Amazon may be touting all of its Black Friday features and opportunities as being for the customers benefit, but those in the industry say that Amazon needs a successful Black Friday to keep on the profit path after enduring years of losses and razor-thin profits.
Macquarie Wall Street analyst Ben Schachter says, “You can’t generate that same kind of excitement if you’re trying to do this in-store. Consumers aren’t going to be there every day for eight days. That’s not to say they can’t try to replicate customer success online, but Amazon is dominating online.”
Adobe’s Digital Index figures show that Black Friday 2014 set a record, with consumers spending $2.4 billion online, 24 percent more than in 2013. This year, eMarketer is projecting a 5.7 percent increase overall, with e-commerce continuing to grow in the double digits.