Walmart moves in on Amazon’s sales-day social chatter

Walmart is trying hard to disrupt Amazon’s much touted “Prime Day” sale on Wednesday and if social chatter is any indication, it’s working.

Data crunched by Brandwatch shows that Walmart’s sale has already garnered 17,000 mentions despite only announcing its sale on Monday. In comparison, Amazon’s sale got 40,000 mentions despite having been announced seven days ago — and since Walmart’s announcement got only 15,000 mentions.

“Walmart’s conversation is much smaller overall, but prior to Walmart’s competing sale announcement the entire conversation belonged to Amazon’s Prime Day. Now, Walmart has entered the discussion and taken some of the attention and mentions away from Amazon,” Brandwatch analyst Kellan Terry told Digiday.

Amazon announced last week a blowout sale to celebrate the eve of its 20th birthday: Prime Day, to be held Wednesday, is a “global shopping event” that promised more deals than Black Friday, exclusively for Prime members in the U.S., Japan, Canada and parts of Europe. The sale came with a PR blitz — as Forrester analyst Sucharita Mulpuru said, Amazon rarely does sales, making the announcement enough to drive a lot of buzz.

At the same time, Walmart managed to use the buzz Amazon created to capitalize on its own efforts.

Walmart said Monday that it would have its own sale on the same day and even took a swipe at Amazon’s membership-requirement, saying in a blog post that “we’re standing up for our customers and everyone else who sees no rhyme or reason for paying a premium to save. Brandwatch found that there were a very small number of mentions of Amazon’s sale that didn’t also mention Walmart, showing that Walmart managed to do what it wanted: disrupt Amazon’s sole stake in the sales-day conversation.

“This is a classic promotion to create demand where they isn’t any,” said Morgan McAlenney, evp at The Integer Group. “For retailers like Amazon and Walmart, this is way to get people shopping for low-margin products and eventually transition to high margin.”

Amazon has “exclusive deals” for Prime members (who pay $99 annually for membership), including $30 off a Kindle, $75 off a 32-inch LED television, and up to 70 percent off kitchen appliances. Walmart has “rollbacks” (its word for discounts) on over 2,000 items.

“What’s happening with this spat is that Walmart is doing a very good job of reminding customers that Amazon isn’t the only game in town,” said Martin McNulty, CEO of Forward3D. That’s a priority: In February, Walmart announced that global e-commerce sales had increased 22 percent in the past year, but that it needed to become stronger. The company is investing over $1 billion to expand the company’s e-commerce component this year.

And for Amazon, which rarely does promotions like this, it’s unlikely to make an impact because it’s only one day and it’s only available to Prime members on a limited number of items, according to Mulpuru But add to that what Walmart is doing, and “[Wednesday] will be big,”she said. “Not as big as Singles Day but significantly bigger than the average Wednesday in July.”

McNulty said that Walmart is better positioned that Amazon to take advantage: the company has physical stores, which can bring together online customer data and the e-commerce part of the puzzle to create a seamless transaction between brick-and-mortar and online. So if you buy something on Walmart’s sale online, this may lead to you receiving better coupons, which you can use in-store. That’s especially important when you connect bulky everyday purchases that you may choose to order online (say, paper towels) with higher-ticket items like a cellphone that you may want to buy in-person.

Walmart is also where people go for more frequent purchases, so they have more data to play with, said McNulty.

“At the end of the day, the rising tide lifts all boats,” said McAlenney. “The more people transact through e-commerce, the bigger both sites get.”

Image via Ken Wolter /

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