Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN) wants to turn today into a Black Friday-like shopping holiday for members of its $99-a-year free shipping service.

Calling the event Prime Day, Amazon has promised thousands of exclusive "lightning" deals -- specials that pop up at a certain time and then disappear after a pre-set period of time, usually an hour -- for Prime members.

For this created shopping event, the company has promised that new deals will be added as often as every 10 minutes throughout the day. Prime Day begins just after midnight Pacific time and runs for 24 hours. It's open only to Prime members, but the shopping site is offering a 30-day trial of the service, which requires an opt-out if you don't want to continue after the test period. You can claim your trial at amazon.com/primeday.

Why is Amazon doing this?
It's an attempt to jump-start one of the slower shopping times of the year. Mother's Day and Father's Day have passed, and back-to-school remains at least a month away. The faux holiday is also a way for the retailer to lure more people into joining Prime. 

This is important for the company, because new research from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners shows that Prime's 44 million U.S. members now spend about $1,200 per year, compared to roughly $700 per year for non-members.

Screen Shot

Source: CIRP

What is the company offering deals on?
Amazon hasn't released a full list of deals, nor has it announced which deals will be launched when, but it did put out a partial list of the offers. Highlights include:

  • Fire TV Stick, the fastest-selling Amazon device of all time, $15 off.
  • Kindle, $30 off.
  • Fire HD 7, $60 off.
  • Fire HD 7 Kids Edition, $60 off.
  • 32-inch LED TV, $75.
  • 40-inch 1080p LED TV, $115.
  • Brand-name 32-inch Smart HDTV, under $200.
  • 50-inch 4K TV bundle, under $1,000.
  • Bose headphones at the lowest price ever on Amazon.
  • Chromebook laptop, only $199.
  • Forty Lightning deals on DVDs, up to 75% off.
  • Save up to 70% on select kitchen products from top brands such as Cuisinart, KitchenAid, Foodsaver, and Thermos.
  • Save up to 50% on select tools for the DIY auto enthusiast.
  • Road-trip-ready automotive products start at 50% off.
  • Get 30% off select clothing, shoes, jewelry, watches, and more.
  • Buy an Amazon.com gift card multipack, and get $10 in Amazon.com promotional credit.
  • Prime Now will also offer deals in the six cities where the service is offered.

The day also features the Prime Living photo contests, in which members are asked to take a picture of #PrimeLiving moments and upload them at amazon.com/primeliving for the chance to win $10,000 in Amazon gift cards. The retailer is also offering Prime Personalities, in which members take a quiz to discover what kind of Prime member they are and enter for the chance to win a $2,000 Amazon.com gift card.

Will it work?
Amazon has media outlets (the Fool included) writing about what is essentially just a fancy sale as if it's an actual event. It's not going to be Black Friday in July, but it should be a huge day for the retailer at a time of year where nobody would have been going out of his or her way to shop.

Prime Day should succeed in getting users who aren't Prime member to sign up for the service and remain members. That's something the company has been good at doing, as it has a 70% conversion rate from the 30-day trial, according to CIRP.

It may be contrived, but Amazon has managed to create something that will probably have people signing up for Prime and then spending extended periods on its site waiting for deals. It's marketing genius that should pump up the company's July numbers this year and in the years to come.

Daniel Kline has no position in any stocks mentioned. He is a Prime member who wants a new TV. The Motley Fool recommends Amazon.com. The Motley Fool owns shares of Amazon.com. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.