Corporate Eye

3 Reasons Amazon Ruled Holiday Retail in 2013

amazon boxAmazon announced that one million people signed up for it’s $79 annual Prime free shipping membership program during the third week of December 2013. In fact, Amazon Prime membership sales set a new record during that time period, but that’s just a small part of the story.

Bloomberg Businessweek reports that brick-and-mortar retail traffic dropped by 22% during the third week of December—the same time that Amazon broke records in Prime membership signups. Amazon also broke holiday retail records in mobile sales and Cyber Monday sales. Specifically, 50% of Amazon customers purchased items using their mobile devices this holiday season, and on Cyber Monday, 36.8 million items were purchased on Amazon setting a new record of 426 items sold per second according to Mobile Commerce Daily.

There are three key reasons why Amazon had such a successful holiday retail season in 2013, and none of them were based on luck. In fact, Amazon’s 2013 success comes from years of strategic planning.

1. A Seamless Mobile Experience

In 2013, shopping through the Amazon mobile app was something that consumers felt safe doing. That’s not something other retailers can say about their consumers. The reason Amazon succeeds in this area is because consumers can smoothly segue to the Amazon mobile app rather than feeling like they’re taking a sudden leap from the Amazon website (which might not be by choice) to a completely different mobile experience. Instead, the Amazon mobile app looks and feels similar to the Amazon website. Consumers’ perceptions of shopping through the Amazon mobile app or mobile website are very different than they are for other retailers because the similar user experience mitigates their concerns about mobile shopping security.

2. Convenience and Ease of Purchase

Since the Amazon mobile shopping experience is similar to the online Amazon shopping experience that consumers are used to, it’s extremely easy for them to make purchases anytime and anywhere with their mobile devices. There is no learning curve. All of their Amazon shopping cart information, wish lists, shipping addresses, profile data, and account information is at their fingertips using their mobile devices or their computers. With the handy one-click ordering feature, Amazon mobile app users can complete a purchase in seconds just like they would on the Amazon website.

3. Extras that Actually Add Value and Boost Loyalty

Amazon’s mobile app isn’t filled with clutter and extras that are useless to consumers. Instead, it provides all of the information Amazon customers expect such as search functionality, price comparisons, and reviews as well as extra mobile features like bar code scanning, product availability checking, and more.

In addition, Amazon has worked to extend its brand across mobile experiences to further increase brand loyalty. Not only does Amazon Prime boost customer loyalty for retail purchases, but products like the Amazon Appstore, Amazon Audible, Amazon Instant Video, Amazon Kindle, and Amazon ebook borrowing (for Prime customers) enable the company to surround consumers with a variety of ways to experience the Amazon brand that all lead back to or the Amazon mobile app in some way.

Amazon’s efforts in recent years have had a clear strategic purpose, and today, the brand is far stronger because of those efforts. One million new Amazon Prime customers at $79 each in one week says it all. Now, Amazon has one million more people to welcome into the Amazon family who can try the many Amazon brand experiences (and tell their friends about those experiences). It’s a great brand setup for 2014 and beyond.

Image: Mike Seyfang

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.