Anytime you can set in motion an event that changes an entire industry, you know you're doing something right. 

That's literally what Amazon has done with its annual Prime Day sale. In fact, it's become such a huge event that it now takes up two days on the retail calendar. And, despite a few early technical difficulties, based on most customer reports Prime Day 2019 seems to be a huge success for the company. In reality, it's actually an even bigger success for both customers and online sellers because it has changed the way people buy online.

The good news is, even though you might not run a company the size of Amazon, there are a few things it did that you can learn from. Here's how:

Make the most of the off-season.

July isn't typically the biggest sales season for e-commerce businesses. That all changed with Prime Day. In fact, some experts estimate that this year's sale will likely be Amazon's biggest day of sales ever. And the same is true for other retailers who jump on board to take advantage of the publicity surrounding Amazon (more on that in a minute). 

Amazon managed to turn what would normally be its slowest period, into its most hyped event of the year, and generate a serious amount of sales. There's probably an opportunity somewhere for your business to take a creative look at what might otherwise be a slow time and turn it into a win.

Drive people to a recurring subscription service.

Prime Day is only a good deal if you're a part of Amazon's exclusive membership club. That means that Amazon is able to motivate people to sign up for Prime in order to take part in the deep discounts available only to members. 

Sure, Prime Day isn't the only benefit of the membership--there's Prime Video, Prime Music, and free one or two-day shipping. Still, the event is covered everywhere, which means that the flash sale is easily the most public way to tell people about the subscription service.

It turns out that recurring subscriptions are a big deal for Amazon, with the company saying that it had over 100 million Prime members last year. That's incremental revenue that adds up to real profit, and it also sets the company apart from many of its competitors.

By the way-- as a side-note about the free shipping-- that used to be Amazon's unique selling proposition and an important way to get people who were used to walking into a store to buy things, to instead order it online and have it delivered to their home. It removed the barrier of paying for shipping for people who might otherwise pass on buying online. 

How brilliant was it that they found a way to generate incremental revenue from customers who got used to free shipping? 

Force your competitors to react.

Amazon is no longer the only e-commerce site holding flash sales yesterday and today. Walmart, Target, eBay, and Costco are holding sales in direct response to what Amazon has done. Amazon made the rules, and everyone else is trying to figure out how to play the game. That's a totally genius way to make it clear to both customers and competitors who is in charge.

Everyone knows that the only reason Walmart is having a sale is that it is reacting to Amazon. Walmart may generate more annual sales, but in this case, it's following the leader--Amazon.

When you do something big and your competitors have to react, sometimes they make mistakes. Sometimes they bite off more than they can chew in an effort to keep up with you. And sometimes, you send a message to customers that even your competition recognizes that you're in charge.