With Echo Dot at Bat, Amazon Scores Prime Day Home Run

Amazon has hailed its third-annual Prime Day promotion as its single biggest global shopping event ever. The sales event, held earlier this week, reached US$1 billion in sales, according to some analyst estimates, surpassing year-ago sales by 60 percent and beating the company’s prior Black Friday and Cyber Monday records.

More members joined Prime on this year’s Prime Day than on any other single day in the company’s history, Amazon said, although it did not release any figures to back up that claim.

However, tens of millions of the company’s estimated 85 million Prime members made a purchase on the site on Prime Day — 50 percent more than a year ago, according to the company.

“First and foremost, Prime Day is a retention and acquisition tool for [Amazon’s] valuable Prime program, in addition to being their biggest opportunity to sell their own products to customers,” Clarus Commerce CEO Tom Caporaso told the E-Commerce Times.

Smart Speaker, Smart Sales

Amazon struck the jackpot with record sales of its Echo Dot mass market smart speaker — which sold better than any other product on offer from all manufacturers and across all categories — after it slashed its already low price from $49.99 to $34.99. Amazon sold seven times more Echo Dot devices on this Prime Day than on Prime Day 2016, it said.

Prime Day also marked the biggest single sales day for Amazon devices ever, with record sales of Echo smart speakers, Fire tablets and Kindle devices.

The discounted Element 55-inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV – Amazon Fire Edition, was the top selling television set in Amazon history, the company said, setting the record after only four hours.

Tens of millions of customers made purchases on the Amazon app — more than double the total who used it on last year’s Prime Day.

Amazon sold 3.5 million toys on Prime Day.

Amazon’s Prime Day performance demonstrated the company’s ability to continue growing the customer ranks of its key Prime membership program, which offers users free two-day shipping, plus access to its increasingly important music, book and video libraries.

“The promotion of additional subscription-based services only furthers the membership push, whilst also upselling existing Prime members not using these services,” noted Rob Nowell, senior marketing officer at BrandView.

Third-Party Celebration

Amazon reported huge sales from its third-party sellers, including small business and entrepreneurs, which indicates Amazon may be moving more toward becoming an online sales facilitator and less of a direct e-commerce seller, Nowell told the E-Commerce Times.

Sales for Furbo Dog Camera, one participating seller, shot up by 500 times on Prime Day, with top sellers in four categories, including pet supplies and home monitoring equipment, the company reported.

Site Sustains

Amazon’s website performed well, in terms of keeping up with order demand, according to Catchpoint, a firm that monitors Web performance.

“Aside from a minor glitch in the first hour, Amazon had very fast load times despite the heavy traffic of Prime Day,” Catchpoint CEO Mehdi Daoudi told the E-Commerce Times. “This is especially notable because their sites were heavy with many product images, yet they still loaded faster than the competition.”

Amazon’s site loaded in 2.3 seconds on computer desktop sites, compared with 4.73 seconds for rival Walmart, according to Catchpoint. On mobile apps, Amazon loaded in 1.14 seconds, compared with 5.56 seconds for Walmart.

Still, Amazon cannot take its success for granted, BrandView’s Nowell warned, as rival retailers are pushing back. eBay, for example, has promised to match or offer lower prices on 50,000 items from a number of top retailers.

David Jones is a freelance writer based in Essex County, New Jersey. He has written for Reuters, Bloomberg, Crain's New York Business and The New York Times.

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