Amazon has set off an online price war, promising 'more discounts than Black Friday' on 15 July, as it sought to build a stronger membership base among customers in Canada and the US.
In Canada, Amazon Prime members pay a $79 annual fee for free, two-day shipping and other services, including free cloud-based photo storage.
Beginning at 3 am EST on 15 July, Amazon Prime members in Canada would be eligible for discounts, upto 50-70 per cent on select items across categories including electronics, movies, books, video games, home, patio, lawn & garden and toys.
The specials would be staggered throughout the day. They would also be available to Amazon Prime members enrolled in free one-month promotional memberships. Some purchasing limits would apply, Amazon spokesperson Katie McFadzean said.
However, while Wal-Mart in the US announced it would hold a competing sale on the same day, shoppers at Walmart.ca are out of luck – as the promotion would not be held in Canada, according to Walmart Canada spokesperson Alex Roberton. Shipping would be free on orders over $50 before taxes.
According to Jeff Doucette, general manager of Field Agent Canada, a retail data-gathering firm, the Amazon Prime model brought to mind Costco, which offered discount prices to customers who paid an annual $55 fee.
Meanwhile, with the online price war between Walmart and Amazon.com heating up, Walmart lowered the threshold for free shipping for online purchases to $35 from $50 for at least 30 days. On Wednesday, the retailer plans to offer discounts on thousands of items online.
The move was in response to the highly promoted Amazon Prime Day, this Wednesday to commemorate the Seattle company's 20th anniversary.
The sale would be open to members who paid a $99 annual fee, though anyone could sign up for a 30-day free trial and partake in what, according to Amazon, would be a sale that eclipsed the Black Friday bonanza that preceded the Christmas holiday shopping season.
According to commentators, Amazon was trying to drive more customers to its Prime membership ahead of back-to-school shopping and holiday shopping period.
However, Walmart is fighting back and in May it said it would test an unlimited, three-day shipping service for a $50 annual fee.