Amazon Prime Day 2018: Best yet despite a few glitches

In 2015, to celebrate its 20th birthday, Amazon launched Prime Day – a one-day shopping event with big discounts across a wide range of goods. In the same way as Black Friday, this has become an annual, limited-time event. New to Prime Day this year were customers in Australia, Singapore, The Netherlands and Luxembourg, helping to make 2018’s Prime Day the biggest yet.

Where this event differs from other online shopping days, like Black Friday, is that it is a members-only event. Only subscribers to Amazon’s Prime service can access these deals.

More subscribers and more sales

Therefore not only is the event intended to boost sales, but also to encourage new sign-ups to the Prime service. There is a way to access the deals without stumping up the £79 annual subscription fee as there is a 30-day free trial option. This means that you can sign up for the free trial, bag a bargain or two on Prime day and then ditch the service before having to pay for it.

Amazon does though have many loyal subscribers to the service. As Amazon puts it, “Prime was built on the foundation of unlimited fast, free shipping…” and in many instances this is one-day shipping and so many users have come to rely upon this ultimate in convenience, available on a huge number of items. Prime members also benefit from other services such as video streaming and ebook downloads.

In terms of numbers of subscribers, Amazon purports to have 100 million subscribers around the world and states that it welcomed more new subscribers on 16th July than any previous day in Amazon’s history.

Prime customers are loyal customers

Relying on this convenience has seemingly made many a Prime user very forgiving of less-than perfect service. This year’s Prime Day saw outages on the website, with customers in the US facing tedious attempt after attempt to secure the deal they had their eye on – a glitch that would be expected to put shoppers off. Strikes by some workers also took place at the same time and deliveries have been impacted. However, despite this, huge numbers of shoppers still gave their hard-earned cash over to the might of Mr Bezos’ empire.

Whilst Amazon are never forthcoming with explicit sales data, they did say this:

“On a day (and a half) with more than one million deals worldwide offered exclusively to Prime members, sales this Prime Day surpassed Cyber Monday, Black Friday and the previous Prime Day, when comparing 36-hour periods, making this once again the biggest shopping event in Amazon history. Prime members worldwide purchased more than 100 million products during this year’s Prime Day event.”

“Small and medium-sized businesses selling on Amazon far exceeded $1 billion in sales this Prime Day.”

Not bad.

Own brand and connected home products top sales

As would be expected, many of the top sellers were Amazon’s own products, like the Echo and Fire devices. What interested us was that one of the top sellers in the UK was the Philips Hue Personal Wireless Lighting Light strip. It seems that voice and connected home technologies are really starting take off amongst the masses. (Also amongst the top UK selling items was a Bosch Cordless Drill so whilst we’re embracing new technologies, we’re sticking to DIY to implement them!).

Competitors taking a slice of the pie

Over in the US, Target announced that Prime Day was the highest single day of traffic and sales on its website so far this year. This in part could have been helped by some customers abandoning Amazon when they couldn’t access the site, but Target also prepared its own one-day sale, running alongside Prime Day.

With sales for Amazon outstripping those seen on Cyber Monday and Black Friday, this could be a new staple in the online shopping calendar.

Planning for surges in visitor numbers

When talking to clients about optimising their ecommerce customer journeys, especially on mobile, we always emphasise the importance of being able to scale the service and handle surges in visitor numbers. In past years we’ve seen clients anticipating surges in traffic on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, during Christmas sales periods etc. Now it seems we may have to consider Prime Day as another peak period not just for Amazon.

Setting the standard

Amazon was caught out in this instance with their server capacity and it’s surely given them valuable insights about how to better prepare next year, but the biggest lesson is likely that people will continue to shop here, even when things fail. Ultimately, Amazon is so well established as an optimum shopping experience that loyal customers are willing to forgive and forget and come back time and again.

There is much to be said for getting the customer experience right and Amazon has shown that if you prove yourself, get the experience right and establish yourself as a trusted brand, it’s going to take a lot to turn customers off.

If you’re not sure where to start with making sure you are prepared for the forthcoming autumn/winter shopping surges, get in touch and tell us about your customers and let’s see how we can serve them the best possible experience.