Editor's Note: An earlier version of this article wrote that an Amazon Prime membership is $199, and has since been corrected to reflect the accurate $119 membership price.
Amazon just announced that Prime Day will finally happen October 13 and 14. The site-wide sale usually takes place in July but was delayed this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. That's a pretty big deal considering that last year, Prime Day accounted for more of the company's sales than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined. Both customers and third-party sellers have been waiting for Amazon to give some indication when the two-day shopping event might finally arrive.
If you happen to be one of the 150 million Prime members, paying $119 a year, this is good news since Prime Day tends to offer some of the best deals of the year. It's also good news for the many small businesses that sell on Amazon's Marketplace. Amazon said that last year those businesses represented more than half of everything sold.
If you're Target, on the other hand, all of that sounds like very bad news. I mean, Target has been having a very good year, but let's face it, the last thing you need is for your largest competitor to soak up all the attention just before the most important shopping season of the year.
Then again, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, right? Which is exactly what Target is doing. In an emailed statement, the company said, "Target is thrilled to announce the return of Target Deal Days on Oct. 13 and 14. The two-day event will feature digital deals on hundreds of thousands of items, more than double last year. We'll be back in touch this week with more details."
Just to be clear, Target announced its annual shopping deal event for the exact same time as Prime Day. Which, on its surface might seem like a really bad idea. If you're Target, does it really make sense to schedule your biggest non-holiday shopping event for the same two days as Amazon, the online king? Absolutely.
In fact, I think it's brilliant. Here's why:
Amazon's Prime Day generates a ton of attention every year. It's one of the most popular benefits of being a Prime member. Those loyal shoppers are expecting deals and often make purchase they wouldn't throughout the rest of the year. And Amazon tends to offer some pretty eye-catching discounts on many of its own products, attracting even more attention.
There's no point in trying to compete by getting people excited about a second event if you can simply piggyback on the main event. Think about the effort involved in launching something as big as Prime Day. Instead, Target is simply saying, "Oh yeah, we have that too."
This is the digital equivalent of: The retailer across the street is having a big sale, so you might as well take advantage of the fact that everyone is already going to be driving by. Might as well get some of them to stop in your store anyway.
Plus, this fits with Target's plan to start its holiday deals early. Back in July, the company said it would spread out its biggest holiday deals, many of them coming earlier than in previous years, in an effort to alleviate the surge of shopping around Black Friday. According to Target, the company's "biggest holiday deals will be available earlier than ever, so you can shop safely and conveniently without worrying about missing out on deals that usually come later in the season."
Finally, as I wrote last year, Target has one major advantage that Amazon doesn't: It doesn't charge $119 for a membership in order to take advantage of the deals. And all of those deals you order from Amazon have to be shipped to your home.
Sure, that same Prime Membership gives you free one-or-two-day shipping. In Target's case, however, the company has over 1,900 stores, most of which include in-store pickup, Drive-Up, and same-day delivery. No matter how you add it up, same-day is faster than next-day shipping. Plus, since it doesn't require a membership fee. The math seems to be in Target's favor.