hunting in the Amazon: Part II

Part I Summary:

In September of 2005, Scott Blum, the CEO of announced in a TV commercial that his online shopping site would offer 10% off Amazon‘s prices on books. Recently we analyzed’s “10% off Amazon prices” campaign to measure the effectiveness of this David vs. Goliath approach. We found:

  • After launching the campaign,’s traffic grew relatively faster compared to during last year’s holiday season.
  • The percentage of shoppers considering nearly doubled in the months following the campaign launch.
  • The campaign did not improve’s conversion rate.

Our initial findings suggest’s campaign was successful; however there are additional questions that need to be addressed before we can arrive at a definitive conclusion:

  • Was the campaign solely responsible for’s traffic lift?
  • Did consumers understand the promotion was limited to books?
  • Did win the hearts and future purchases of legacy shoppers?

To explore these questions we reached out to people that shop at both sites. Using Compete’s targeted Consumer Input survey service we interviewed 170 individuals that were observed shopping at both and Amazon during the promotional period.


Compete found that 32% of shared shoppers were aware of the promotion. However, the majority of these respondents indicated their motivation to consider was unrelated to the promotion. Of the "˜promotion aware’ respondents only 28% agreed or strongly agreed that they shopped at because of the promotion. This indicates that only 9% of shared shoppers were positively motivated by the campaign.


Did shoppers fully understand’s "10% off Amazon prices" promotion? To its credit, cleverly de-emphasized the details of the promotion playing down the special pricing applied only to in-stock books. In fact, the motivation of this article was a disgruntled Compete employee who didn’t pick up on the "only books" limitation. To measure the effects of this strategic ambiguity we asked "˜promotion aware’ respondents what their understanding of the campaign was. We provided five answer choices and found only 43% understood that the deal applied only to books.

Preference: successfully engaged 28% of promotion aware shoppers to return for future shopping. Despite the efforts from the camp, remains the preferred site of overlap shoppers. In fact, 63% of respondents ranked their most preferred online store, compared to just 5% for

Conclusion:’s head-to-head promotion versus the mighty Amazon was inspirational, but only slightly effective in the grand scheme of internet retailing. Yes, the promotion increased visitor traffic and did lure existing Amazon shoppers; however, its long term effects are limited.

  • Only 9% of shared shoppers — those who shopped at both Amazon and — indicated the promotion positively effected their intentions on
  • 58% of promotion aware shoppers did not understand the promotion was limited to books. Consumers who discover this detail and see it as a bait-and-switch might establish negative sentiments.
  • continues to struggle to become the preferred retail destination of shared shoppers with only 5% citing as their preferred retailer compared to 63% who prefer Amazon. yielded a small win with its "10% off Amazon prices" promotion, but it’s clear they will need to pull out a few more tricks to truly challenge Amazon.

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