Amazon Prime Day overcomes technical snafu with estimated $4.2 billion in sales

Despite a rocky start due to a technical glitch, Amazon’s fourth annual Prime Day wound up being the online giant’s biggest shopping event yet — in terms of sales and sign ups of new Prime members.

Shoppers spent an estimated $4.2 billion during the 36-hour shopping extravaganza for Prime members, up 33% from a year ago, reported Bloomberg, which cited estimates from Wedbush Securities Inc. analyst Michael Pachter. (It’s worth nothing this year’s Prime Day was six hours longer than last year.) That is higher than a pre-sale prediction of $3.4 billion from Coresight Research. The number of orders was an estimated 200% of their average for the previous month, according to Edison Trends.

As is customary, Amazon itself did not disclose revenue figures for the sale. In a press release, the company said that customers across 17 countries purchased more than 100 million products during the event. It also said Prime Day sales surpassed those on Cyber Monday, Black Friday and Prime Day 2017, making this year’s sale the biggest shopping event in Amazon history.

The sale also lured in new Prime members, a move that helped the company exceed its current count of 100 million members. While Amazon did not provide hard numbers, the online retailer reported that more new members signed up on July 16 than any single day in Amazon history.

Amazon said it sold the most Amazon devices to date on Prime Day, with its Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote the best-selling Amazon device, and also the best-selling product globally from any manufacturer in any category. Other hot-selling Amazon gadgets included Echo smart speakers and Kindle e-readers. Excluding Amazon devices, the top three best-selling products in the United States were a quart pressure cooker (Instant Pot 6), a DNA test (23 and Me), and a water filter (LifeStraw Personal Water Filter). The top-selling categories included electronics and accessories (23% of all items purchased); home and kitchen (14%) and health and beauty (11%), according to Edison Trends.

According to a survey by JDA Software, the top platforms to shop on Prime Day were mobile/tablet (60%) or desktop or laptop (53%). Forty percent of survey respondents said they made unplanned purchases based on items on sale. Only 9% of the total respondents said they shopped through Whole Foods. Of those who did, 75% said that they regularly shop at Whole Foods already and benefited from the discounts. The other 25% purposely shopped at Whole Foods during Amazon Prime Day to take advantage of the discounts.

“Prime Day is clearly still an online event, despite Amazon’s attempt to integrate Whole Foods into this year’s promotions,” said JoAnn Martin, VP, retail industry strategy, North America at JDA. “Since those who already are regular Whole Food shoppers were the ones who benefitted from the discounts, it wasn’t driving additional footfall to brick-and-mortar locations.”

As big as Prime Day was, it could have been even bigger. Just as the sale was about to kick-off on July 16, at 3 p.m. EST, Amazon’s website and mobile app both suffered an outage, causing digital deal seekers to receive a variety of error messages that featured the “dogs of Amazon.” Some users were initially unable to enter the site, while others were caught in a loop of pages urging them to “Shop all deals.” During the time of this outage, Amazon could have lost between $1 million and $2 million per minute, according to sales data from Statistica.