Prime Day Showcases the Power of an E-Commerce Empire—And What It Means for Local

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If the amount of press it’s generating one week ahead of time alone has not made the message clear, this year’s Prime Day shows just how powerful a position Amazon occupies in the global retail landscape, digital or otherwise.

Amazon’s 36-hour shopping frenzy has become impossible to ignore for rival retailers, Digiday reports. Walmart is offering discounts of up to 20% on pickup orders worth over $50 along with free two-day shipping for non-members. Macy’s and Best Buy offered special deals last year, with no sign that this year should be different.

Sellers looking to cash in directly via deals on Amazon’s platform will pay more dearly for the privilege, CNBC reports. The price of offering a so-called Lightning Deal, a limited offer during Prime Day, jumps 50% from $500 to $750 this July 16–17. 

And this is to say nothing of the hold Amazon has on consumers, who now pay $119 for a service that was $99 last year. Prime members around the world will scramble for what Amazon says will be over one million special deals on the holiday it forged ex nihilo. 

Commentary on Amazon’s effect on local retail tends to adopt a dour tone. The real picture is more complicated: While it’s true that growing sales online, and on Amazon in particular, detract from purchases that may have once been completed at local brick-and-mortars, it’s also true that customers are widely using digital platforms to check out products before rushing over to a nearby store to complete the purchase. As many as 92% of retail purchases still happen in-store.

Prime Day is a different animal. Above all, the day underscores Amazon’s power in the retail market because it compels the over 100 million consumers who pay for that service to make the most of their investment by purchasing directly from Amazon. And while retailers like Walmart and Macy’s may attempt to compete by offering their own big deals, local businesses unable to sacrifice prices for mass sales are not in a position to play the low-price game that is Amazon’s bread and butter.


Joe Zappa is the Managing Editor of Street Fight. He has spearheaded the newsroom's editorial operations since 2018. Joe is an ad/martech veteran who has covered the space since 2015. You can contact him at [email protected]