Why Walmart, Target and eBay are banking on Amazon Prime Day bonanza

By Aimee Picchi

/ MoneyWatch

Amazon Prime members a new U.S. majority

Amazon Prime Day is pegged by the online retailer as a "two-day parade" of deals. Its rivals are banking that some of that celebration rubs off on them.

There's some evidence that Walmart, eBay, Target and other big retailers are getting some bang for Amazon's buck: These retailers generated a bump in interest in internet searches ahead of Prime Day, according to research from search data company, Captify.

Hitching their sales to Amazon's Prime Day is a smart move, given that many consumers without Amazon's $119 annual Prime membership are likely curious about what deals they might find, said Infosys Consulting partner Jerry Kurtz. It also means they're ready for consumers if Amazon suffers a site outage, as it did during 2018's Prime Day.

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"Amazon's rivals like Target, Walmart and eBay are looking to capitalize on Amazon Prime Day by having sales and discounts in place in case Amazon's site has issues again like last year's website crash," Kurtz said. "Walmart and Target are playing up the fact that customers don't need a membership to score deals, unlike Amazon."

“Alexa, is there anything good happening on Prime Day this year?”

“Yeah…Did you check eBay?” #CrashingPrimeDay

— eBay (@eBay) July 11, 2019

Even though it might seem as if everyone already has a Prime membership, that's not the case — at least not yet. About half of American households don't have a Prime membership, which may make them more primed for sales from rivals such as Walmart and Target.

EBay, for one, is cheekily taking aim at Amazon by suggesting that consumers who check Alexa for deals might get prompted to look at eBay instead.

Even non-retailers, like Capital One, want part of the action. The bank is using the occasion to tout its Wikibuy shopping tool. "Don't overpay on Amazon Prime Day," reads a Capital One marketing email from July 8, encouraging consumers to use Wikibuy to compare Amazon Prime Day deals to other merchants' prices on the same items.

Biggest pitfall

The biggest pitfall for consumers is to only shop on Amazon during its Prime Day event, said Dan Neiweem, co-founder and principal of digital marketing and strategy firm Avionos. Because rivals are offering their own deals, make sure to compare prices before buying, he recommended.

"Consumers need to realize that Amazon isn't the be-all-end-all," he added. "Other retailers may be better suited to meet shoppers' individual needs, with personalized deals and innovative offerings."

EBay, for instance, is rolling out tech and kitchen equipment sales, like a Cuisinart countertop griddle for $49.99, or a discount of 55%. A similar Cuisinart griddle costs $59.99 on Amazon.

Still, consumers should avoid the impulse to buy just for the sake of buying, noted Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate.com, in an emailed statement.

"Only seriously consider purchasing if you have already done homework with price comparisons, both online and at brick-and-mortar destinations," he said. "Only click 'add to cart' or 'buy now' if it's an item that you really need and can afford and otherwise planned to buy."

First published on July 15, 2019 / 3:20 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc.. All Rights Reserved.

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