How Amazon Has Impacted Holiday Shopping

The themes of fellowship, gratitude, and love have symbolically become represented through the act of gift-giving, and no one understands this concept better than Amazon. Every holiday season we are greeted with a wave of products, new and old, via holiday marketing campaigns. As the seasonal spirit slowly overtakes pop culture from Halloween to New Year’s, discounts are available anywhere and everywhere for the cost-conscious consumer. And it is these conditions that lead to annual shopping extravaganzas, where shoppers battle the elements, limited supplies, and each other for year-end sales.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, chances are you’re well aware of the ever-expanding reach of, Incservices. And what Amazon understands so well is that consumers not only want the best deals, but the easiest path to obtaining them. Black Friday sales have led to public altercations, created a reseller market, and make gift-giving a difficult process. But for the people we love and care about, many of us are willing to go extreme lengths.

Amazon recognized this years ago, and it’s been the driving force behind their straight-to-market philosophy for decades. Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos, started what was an online marketplace for books and has grown it into the internet’s #1 online retailer. According to a survey by NetElixir, Inc.,

42% of shoppers say they are most likely to buy a holiday gift on an online marketplace, such as those operated by Inc. and eBay Inc., according to a survey by search marketing firm NetElixir Inc. 43% of consumers surveyed say they will purchase holiday gifts in stores, and 15% say they are likely to buy a holiday gift on a retailer’s website. – InternetRetailer

To understand how Amazon has changed holiday shopping – and shopping in general – let’s take a closer look at the products and services they offer.

The company’s online store offers more than 350 million items for sale, of which just 12.23 million are sold directly by Amazon. In order for brick-and-mortar retailers to compete, they have to get creative with the products they offer, the prices they charge and the services they provide. – 24/7 Wall Street

Amazon’s flagship service/product is their marketplace, but what makes their marketplace more unique from a brick-and-mortar location? Users can sell their own new or used products alongside Amazon and competitor brands on the marketplace.

Buyers can purchase or sell items within the marketplace. Big brands and small, from the professional to the hobbyist can list items or products for sale. But this isn’t a particularly new feature when compared to marketplaces like Ebayand Facebook. However, Amazon differentiates itself from the respective competition by being more than a software service.

Since their inception, they’ve grown to offer paid-membership services, streaming capabilities, and signature hardware. A few of their most successful services and products include,

  • Prime

  • Kindle and Kindle service

  • Echo

  • FireTV and Firestick

What do all of these devices have in common? Each one directly ties into the flagship Amazon service — The marketplace. As a result, Amazon is one of the best examples of an Always-On Marketing strategy. What is always-on marketing?

Ben Silcox, Head of Data and Technology at Havas EHS, describes always-on marketing by two fundamental elements.

  • It is ‘pulled’ from the consumer. Ex. You can ‘push’ an email or digital banner ad out to the biggest audience you can find, hoping some of that sticks and someone will buy a flight on your airline. Keep doing this over and over again and hope you get enough response.

  • It is anticipatory. It hinges on a deep understanding of consumer behaviour; the nuances and the similarities. It is: trying to provide something in advance of the consumer wanting to find it. It is: doing this within a context (time, place, location, emotion) that enables the consumer to easily and simply engage with your products or services.

While Prime is a subscription-based feature of the marketplace, the shipping options provide considerable benefit to users. One of the biggest drawbacks to online retail during the holiday season are shipping & handling costs and return policies. As a solution, Amazon created the service based on a flat-rate fee, giving shoppers two-day shipping options on all Prime-qualified items, free of charge. Additionally, Prime members have access to free streaming access to Amazon’s library of content. Concerning returns, unlike Ebay where the seller creates a basic ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ return policy, Prime accepts all items returned within 30 days.

What’s more, they began their ‘Prime Day’ promotion in July 2015 as a shopping event to rival Black Friday. What was the result? Prime Day was more successful than Black Friday in its inaugural year; The second annual Prime Day occurred July 12th, 2016.


Amazon does not release Prime Day sales numbers but has said orders from U.S. shoppers were up more than 50% year over year on Prime Day, and the number of orders placed on Amazon’s mobile app more than doubled compared with Prime Day 2015, the first year the e-retailer held the promotion. – Fareeha Ali, InternetRetailer

Prime Day has given the expression ‘Christmas in July’ as whole new meaning. Shoppers no longer have to wait until the holiday season to find the best deals. Now, they can do all their shopping before the holidays, leaving them free to enjoy the festivities. Competing retailers must make the decision to have to either join the Amazon marketplace or offer better deals, if possible. Moving forward, other ways Amazon has changed holiday shopping is through the release of physical hardware/devices like the Echo.

The Echo is a smart speaker capable of, “Voice interaction, music playback, to-do lists, setting alarms, streaming podcasts, playing audio-books, and providing weather, traffic and other real time information.” Additionally, Echo’s are capable of home automation through smartphones, but here’s the kicker — Amazon’s annual holiday toy list is uploaded to the Echo. Slice Intelligence, a digital commerce research group, goes on to further explain,


Echo owners skew higher in age, making the device perfect for shoppers looking for toys. Consumers who buy Echo’s fall largely between ages 36 and 66, according to Slice Intelligence. This positions it as an extremely useful device in Amazon’s holiday arsenal, as these shoppers are more likely buying for children. Echo owners are already more active on Amazon’s marketplace than non-owners.

For example, while cleaning you put on a Pandora station and hear a holiday marketing campaign for children’s clothes. Instructing the echo through voice command, you can set shopping reminders or order an item on the spot. This is the genius of Amazon’s always-on marketing devices in-play. They make it so you can shop while going about your daily activities.

Amazon devices like Kindle Fire (tablet), FireTV, and Firestick can easily access the Amazon marketplace. So, whether you’re reading a book, watching television, doing chores, etc., you’re only a click away from a purchase. Amazon has established an equally viable sales holiday all the while building marketplace instant access features into all devices.

What’s more is the tech company is looking to roll out their first retail location, Amazon Go, in early 2017. Go locations will be entirely automated by technology — shoppers must log into their existing accounts through smartphones to purchase items.

Introducing Amazon Go and the world’s most advanced shopping technology

As competitors are making the transition into the online market, Amazon is looking to revolutionize brick-and-mortar spaces. Additionally, the retail giant is in the early stages of launching physical locations, they’re developing their own shipping services too.

The company has also purchased long-haul trucks for ground deliveries, and in August it debuted the first fleet of Amazon Prime Boeing airplanes for long-distance shipping. Those resources will undoubtedly be put to use during the holiday season, but it could be years before we see a full-scale delivery system from the online retailer. – Arstechnica

But we’re sure these aren’t the only other projects Amazon has in the works. It’s clear Amazon isn’t content with just making holiday shopping easier, but instead reshaping the retail experience entirely. Only time will tell what Amazon produces, but it will undoubtedly be  customer-oriented with the purpose of making life simpler.