Amazon.com Inc.’s sixth-annual Prime Day sale kicked off Tuesday, and by the evening, everything seemed to be going according to plan. There were no big technical glitches reported, Amazon sellers were having banner days, despite the uncertainty of the pandemic and the marketplace’s inventory restrictions, and other retailers saw online revenue increase by an average of 70% when compared with Prime Day 2019 because of the influx of deal-seeking shoppers.
Prime Day sales of Amazon and its marketplace sellers will exceed $9.70 billion this year, up between 36%-42% from $7.16 billion in July 2019, according to Digital Commerce 360 estimates. The promotional event, which again spans 48 hours this year, is usually held in July but was postponed this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. With the 2020 Prime Day falling just a month-and-a-half before Black Friday and Cyber Monday, analysts and retailers expect this week to be the unofficial kickoff of the holiday shopping season.
While Amazon is notoriously vague about the performance of its big sales events like Prime Day, outside groups are gleaning insights from sample data and anecdotal experiences, and it seems as though 2020’s delayed Prime Day is off to a solid start.
Amazon’s U.S. revenue for the first seven hours of the sale, or through 10 a.m. ET, jumped 19% over the same period during Prime Day 2019, according to figures from digital commerce intelligence company Edison Trends. The average hourly growth in consumers’ Amazon spending hit 26%. The firm’s data is based on e-receipts from more than 45,000 online transactions accessed through the email of U.S. consumers.
According to data from a Numerator panel, whose insights are based on more than 2,200 verified Prime Day orders as of 2:15 p.m. ET, the average Prime Day order this year is $45.83, and two in five households shopping Prime Day have already placed two or more orders, bringing the average household spend to roughly $76.88. Additionally, 30% of consumers surveyed by Numerator reported purchasing holiday gifts on Amazon, and 47% bought items that were included in Prime Day deals.
Among Numerator’s consumer panel, 58% of Prime Day shoppers on Amazon considered only Amazon, No. 1 in the 2020 Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000, when purchasing on Tuesday, with 25% considering buying from Walmart Inc. (No. 3), 17% from Target Corp. (No. 12) and 6% from Best Buy Co. Inc. (No. 10).
Non-Amazon retailers see ‘halo effect’ again this year
For years now, other retailers have been capitalizing on the buzz around Amazon Prime Day by running competing sales that coincide with the same dates and using similar marketing messaging, and the trend is even more pronounced in 2020. According to data from email monitoring firm MailCharts, the share of retailers’ emails containing the word “prime” tripled this Prime Day when compared with the same sales event in 2019. As of 1 p.m. ET Tuesday, 9.1% of all emails across hundreds of brands MailCharts tracks included the word “prime” somewhere in its content, up from 3.0% for the same Prime Day period last year.
“This indicates an increased willingness from brands and retailers to leverage the consumer interests in Amazon’s yearly event,” says Brian Lai, insights analyst at MailCharts.
However, so far, brands have included promotions in their emails at a rate that’s similar to Prime Day 2019, he adds.
While Numerator’s data shows just 11% of Prime Day buyers on Amazon also purchased something at a competitor’s website by mid-Tuesday, with an additional 29% reporting they may later in the day, other figures suggest other retailers are reaping the benefits of the influx of retail traffic in a big way.
As of 7 a.m. ET Tuesday, online spending was up 33% for non-Amazon sites when compared with the same hours of the first day of the sales event in July 2019, according to data from Salesforce.com Inc. The software provider aggregates data from the activity of more than 1 billion global shoppers flowing through its Commerce Cloud platform and extrapolates its clients’ findings to the broader retail industry.
As the day progressed, the growth in digital revenue continued to climb. By 11 a.m. ET, same-site sales for non-Amazon sites were up an average of 70% from the same period during Prime Day last year, according to Salesforce data.
Shoppers on non-Amazon sites were buying mostly apparel as of 7 a.m. ET Tuesday, which is on par with trends during Prime Day 2019, according to Salesforce insights.
While it’s too early to get a good view of retailers’ overall performance during Prime Day, digital consultancy January Digital clients are reporting a preliminary “huge halo effect” and spikes in sales on their own direct-to-consumer sites. But conversion rates have declined on retailers’ own ecommerce sites for the firm’s clients that are participating in Prime Day through Amazon—an expected trend, according to Megan Leedy Jones, partner and vice president of marketing.
Early Prime Day traffic data from digital performance optimization vendor Yottaa shows two distinct trends emerging for the company’s clients, which operate 1,500 ecommerce sites. For sites that are not offering any special promotions, traffic remained at normal Tuesday levels, says Yottaa founder and chief technology officer Bob Buffone. But, sites that have promotions throughout Tuesday and Wednesday are having up to four-times-higher traffic than normal.
Marketplace sellers see big spikes
“So far, so good” for marketplace sellers that work with eShopportunity, a consulting group that helps brands sell on Amazon. While there are a ton of deals right now for the company’s clients to compete with, traffic is “extremely high” for many brands, says founder and CEO Fahim Naim.
“A few of our brands have done 2X their normal average by morning PST,” he says. “Brands that run deals/promotions on Prime Day certainly see a large lift in sales versus average sales. But even brands that do not run promotions but increase ad spend, have optimized their detail pages and are in stock with Prime-eligible inventory see a pretty good increase on Prime Day.”
Most brands are spending two-to-five times more on Amazon-sponsored ads during Prime Day versus an average day, Naim adds, and several of eShopportunity’s brands are currently leveraging Amazon Live, which gives brands the ability to have a livestream appear on their product detail pages.
Amazon sellers that checked in with Digital Commerce 360 Tuesday reported big surges in Prime Day demand even in a year where ecommerce sales have been elevated due to the pandemic and experts were unsure of how that would impact big sales events that historically are a high-water mark for retailers.
Until a few weeks ago, executives at web-only merchant Black Rifle Coffee Co. (No. 514) were getting vague responses from the retailer’s Amazon account representative and weren’t even sure if Prime Day would happen this year.
“Because of the lack of transparency from Amazon, we weren’t sure how to adequately prepare our inventory to meet the demand of the elusive ‘sometime in 2020’ date we had been given,” says Tyler Taggart, Black Rifle’s Amazon channel manager. “That coupled with Amazon’s new arbitrary inventory restrictions made it especially hard for us to keep inventory in stock and get additional stock in place for the Q4 sales rush. Although the inventory restrictions continue to be a frustration on our end, we have been pleasantly surprised with the results of Prime Day.”
As of mid-day Tuesday, the retailer’s Amazon sales were up nearly 150% year over year compared with the same day the week prior—even with significant portions of its inventory at a low or out-of-stock level on Amazon, Taggart says. The brand’s growth in 2020 has been “enormous,” so a normal sales day this year already outpaces last year’s Prime Day, which is why he says a year-over-year analysis is meaningless.
“This is due to a combination of Prime Day drawing its usual crowd and some concerted efforts by our marketing team to promote our Prime Day sales to our social audiences,” Taggart says. “We decided on a blanket 20% discount for the entire Black Rifle Coffee catalog, with 30% being offered on top-selling items such as our CAF (Caffeinated as **** ground coffee blend).”
Brooklinen (No. 380), which sells bed and bath linens on its own ecommerce site as well as through Amazon, is running a “Surprise Savings Event” with 15% off at Brooklinen.com for Tuesday and Wednesday. According to a company spokesperson, the brand’s revenue has jumped by more than five times year over year in the first day of its sale versus the first day of the same Brooklinen.com sales event in 2019, which also coincided with Prime Day.
SmileDirectClub Inc. (No. 83), a brand that sells dental aligners, is participating in Prime Day and is offering a buy-one-get-one sale on electric toothbrushes and whitening or sensitive toothpaste as well as $15 off of “enbrightenment” kits and 15% off of its “Smile Spa” for items sold on Amazon. By mid-day Tuesday, the brand is pacing to one of its highest-ever days on Amazon, according to a company spokesperson.
Electronics retailer Monoprice Inc. (No. 226) also reported a “very successful morning” for its marketplace channel on the opening day of Prime Day. Daily revenue already surpassed year-to-date highs by mid-day, and web traffic was “tremendously high” from marketplaces including Amazon, eBay and Target, says Veronica Chen, director of marketplaces. So far, Monoprice’s 35-inch Zero-G curved, ultra-wide gaming monitor—typically priced at $399.99 but marked down to $299.99 for Prime Day—has been the most popular item, she adds.
Pet care brand BarkBox (No. 203) is running Prime Day deals for the second time, and so far, revenue is outpacing last year. Sales for the memory foam Cuddler dog bed are up 550% from their normal daily level, and so far, Tuesday is the second-best day BarkBox has ever had on Amazon, says Whitney Komor, general manager of marketplaces for the brand.Favorite