While Amazon has undoubtedly emerged as one of the pandemic’s retail victors, the platform has withstood its fair share of logistical hiccups and PR nightmares during the age of COVID-19. Now, the online giant is looking for a little summer love to make up for the mishaps.
Following a painful period of widespread outcry over warehouse health and safety concerns and struggles to keep up with massive consumer demand, Amazon appears to have found its footing again. In fact, the retailer is so confident in its operational efficiency that it’s planning a massive summer sale, the New York Times reported.
Overloaded by orders from panic buyers and mired in operational meltdowns, Amazon stumbled in its promises of one-to-two-day Prime shipping. Orders faced significant delays, and many products across the site, especially household essentials and cleaning supplies, were sold out for weeks.
The frenzy left little logistical bandwidth to service everyday shoppers looking for a retail pick-me-up, which is why the company decided in April to postpone its famed Prime Day sale—which usually takes place in July—to September.
While Amazon said it was reserving space in its warehouses for essential items when the pandemic struck in full force, those restrictions appear to have been lifted in recent weeks. Shoppers are facing fewer delays on orders for non-essential goods, showing that the tides—at least in the context of retail trends—are shifting back to normal.
Now, according to an audio recording of an internal meeting heard by the Times, the company is planning to open the floodgates and allow brands to sell off some of the inventory that they’ve been sitting on for months. The date, terms and scale of the potential promotional event is yet unknown.
Big box competitors like Walmart and Target have earned consumer loyalty throughout the crisis due to their own increasingly sophisticated logistical capabilities, along with their massive retail footprints. Selling everything from groceries to apparel, Target’s online sales grew by 141 percent last quarter, and Walmart’s grew 74 percent during the same period, the Times reported.
While Amazon’s unrivaled shipping infrastructure has kept it ahead of the pack, the Bezos brainchild has indeed lost market share to its competitors. Rakuten intelligence data shows that the platform’s astounding 42 percent hold on online spending in the U.S. dropped by mid-April to 34 percent.