TECHNOLOGY

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

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

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.

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TECHNOLOGY

Prime Day recovers, sales on pace to break records

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Despite a troubled start, Amazon’s Prime Day is staying on track to beat last year’s record sales.

According to early results from Feedvisor, an analytics company that gathers intelligence for Amazon sellers, sales during the first 12 hours of the fourth annual Prime Day event were 80% higher than sales during the same 12-hour period last week. In addition, total cumulative orders were 69% higher than last year, The Street reported.

Specifically, small and medium-sized businesses worldwide have exceeded more than $1 billion in sales on Amazon since yesterday, according to the online giant.

Among the sale’s best sellers include Amazon’s Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote; the Instant Pot 6 quart pressure cooker, and Amazon’s Echo Dot smart speaker. The site has sold out of the Toshiba 50-inch 4K Ultra HD Fire TV Edition, as well as the Ring Video Doorbell Pro. Amazon has also sold over four times as many Ring systems compared to last year’s Prime Day sale, according to the company.

Amazon’s 36-hour shopping event kicked off on July 16, at 3 p.m. EST. However, Prime Day got off to a rocky start when the online giant’s website and mobile app both suffered an outage just as the sale commenced. Both online and mobile shoppers faced a variety of error messages featuring the “dogs of Amazon” while trying to shop for Prime Day deals. 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 that the site and app were both completely down, Amazon could have lost between $1 million and $2 million per minute, according to sales data from Statistica.

Industry observers also questioned the impact the glitch would have on sales, overall.

“Amazon has set the standard that customers have come to expect from a seamless and convenient shopping experience. They serve as the model that other brands strive to emulate and duplicate,” said Jeff Cheal, director of product strategy, personalization, campaign & analytics at Episerver. “If Prime members can’t shop for the deals they were promised on Prime Day — Amazon’s highly publicized bell-ringing event — it means Amazon has fumbled in delivering on the very premise that has made it into the retail juggernaut it is today.”

Amazon was able to overcome the snafu, and continued to build momentum. The site continued to feature deals, and more than three quarters (76%) of Prime Day prices beat Black Friday prices, according to BestBlackFriday.com.

Customers that did manage to shop successfully during Prime Day’s launch quickly set the tone for the sale, as they “ordered more items compared to the first hour [of Prime Day] last year,” according to a tweet from Amazon at 5 p.m. on July 16.

Prime Day ends at 3 a.m. EST on July 18. When it concludes, total sales for this year’s event could exceed last year’s total by 60% or more, according Feedvisor.

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TECHNOLOGY

Kroger app promotes wellness

BY David Salazar

Kroger has a new service that encourages customers to shop healthier.

Kroger launched OptUp, an app aimed at helping shoppers making healthier, informed choices in the aisle.

The app will score products on a 1-100 scale based on a national dietary standard that’s enhanced by Kroger’s registered dietitians, with higher scores correlating with healthier products.

“Kroger’s new OptUp app is transformational for the food retail industry,” said Colleen Lindholz, Kroger’s president of pharmacy and the Little Clinic. “The app puts nutritional information at your fingertips and makes finding and buying better-for-you products easier and simpler.”

Products fall into green, yellow and red categories. Green products (scores of 71 or higher) tend to be lower in saturated fat, sodium, sugar and calories and can be higher in fiber, protein and fruit/vegetable or nut content. Yellow category products range in score from 36 to 70 and red items rate between 1 and 35.

In May, Lindholz told Chain Store Age sister publication, Drug Store News that the app is designed to gradually help shoppers make healthier choices.

“We’re trying to help our customers make better food choices, but not go from A to Z overnight,” Lindholz said. “If I’m eating [cookies] for the last five years and that’s my snack, you’re not going to take me to broccoli or even grapes if [cookies] are what I love. What’s great about this app is it suggests items that are higher in nutrients, [but] not that much higher.”

The app was the product of collaboration between Kroger’s health, tech, digital and 84.51° teams, according to chief digital office Yael Cosset. “The data-driven app creates a more transparent and educational experience for our customers, continuing our commitment to help Americans shop, eat, and live healthier on their terms,” Cosset said.

The app is free in the Google Play Store and Apple App Store.

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