Was Amazon Prime Day a success? Well, sure. But perhaps not to the degree that the ecommerce industry has come to expect and not for the giant company that created it.
First, a caveat: the data is still coming in on sales, revenue, and users on Prime Day, which was held July 12 and 13 this year. It won’t be entirely clear how things went until Amazon Inc. next reports earnings sometime around Aug. 2. In the meantime, Amazon, No. 1 in the Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000, says this year’s sale was a major success. Shoppers purchased more than 300 million items worldwide and spent more than $3 billion on more than 100 million products from small businesses that sell on the Amazon marketplace.
Initial Digital Commerce 360 analysis shows one major shift in Prime Day this year: Products on the marketplace took the highest share of sales in the history of the two-day event.
Market research company Numerator says its data suggests that concerns about inflation prompted a shift in shopper behavior during Prime Day. Numerator, which examined 58,934 unique orders from 21,306 households and surveyed over 4,847 verified shoppers, said:
- Prime Day shoppers purchased more Household Essentials (29%) than Consumer Electronics (27%) this year. That’s a first for a typically tech-heavy sales event.
- An early read of the full 48-hour Prime Day 2022 event shows the average order size was $52.26. That’s up from $44.75 in the same reporting period on Prime Day 2021.
- 83% of Prime Day shoppers say inflation impacted their Prime Day purchases. 34% say they waited for the sale to purchase a specific item at a discounted price, while 28% passed on a good deal because it wasn’t a necessity.
Was Prime Day a success for small businesses?
Part of Amazon’s marketing for this year’s Prime Day involved a “Win Big by Supporting Small” initiative. In it, shoppers who purchased eligible small business products from June 21 through July 11 received a chance to win prizes such as tickets to Super Bowl LVI.
Yet some small businesses that sell on the marketplace were less than enthused by this year’s Prime Day.
Tamika Richie said sales were higher for gift items she sells on Prime Day than on average days, but less so than in earlier Prime Day sales. Richie does business on the marketplace under the brand Just What You Need.
“Prime Day itself was great, but it was definitely better last year,” Richie said, estimating that sales this year were roughly 9% lower than on Prime Day 2021. “And I heard the same sentiment amongst other sellers.”
Richie said she passed on the opportunity to seek one of the badges that Amazon used to designate sellers as small businesses, woman-owned, etc.
“Amazon has rules that they have set up to participate in those events,” she said. “And I don’t like to be constrained, so I choose not to participate.”
Rather, Richie puts considerable effort into optimizing her products for search and advertising across multiple marketplaces including eBay Inc. (No. 5 on the Digital Commerce 360 Online Marketplaces database), Etsy Inc. (No. 18) and Amazon. Richie uses a tool from Semrush for that work, and said she was pleased with her performance during the two-day event.
Richie said the problem with Prime Day this year is that the magic of the event has faded.
“People no longer get excited about it, and that was the beauty of Prime Day in the past,” Richie said. “You didn’t know when it might happen. There was a spontaneity about it that’s gone now.”
That’s in keeping with what Gregory Ng, CEO of customer experience consultancy Brooks Bell, told Digital Commerce 360.
“While Amazon has been trying to make Prime Day a holiday, the reality is it doesn’t have a compelling event attached to it like Christmas morning,” he said. “Instead, it caters to people seeking a deal and this just isn’t the temperature right now with consumer spending habits.”
How the cookie crumbles
Tom Funk, director of ecommerce for Ann Clark Cookie Cutters, said Amazon displayed a small business badge on his company’s offerings this year, although the company didn’t specifically request that they do so. Funk said the move was likely tied to his company’s consistent ranking as an Amazon’s Choice.
Funk said his company does the lion’s share of its business through Amazon.
“Amazon is our only marketplace, and Amazon is probably 80% of our revenue,” he said, noting that 30% of his sales are in 17 markets outside the U.S. where shoppers can access the marketplace, including the United Kingdom, Japan, Australia and the United Arab Emirates.
Still, Funk said he saw only a modest lift in sales during this year’s two-day event.
“It was an ‘up’ day, but it wasn’t like a stunningly ‘up’ day,” he said. “Last year, we had a very big Prime Day because we had some very deep discounts. This year, we didn’t really do much discounting at all.”
- Ann Clark food coloring was the company’s biggest Prime Day success story. Sales were up 85% compared to a typical day.
- Cookie Cutters were up about 40%, and much of the strongest growth came from international markets.
Tools of the trade
Mike Ritter, president of San Diego-based CPO Commerce, said his company didn’t get the small-business designation this year, most likely because CPO is owned by Essendant, a Chicago-based Fortune 500 B2B company. CPO Commerce sells power tools on the Amazon marketplace, as well as on the marketplaces of Walmart Inc. (No. 2 in the Top 1000) and Target Corp. (No. 5) and it’s own website,
But even without the marketing that Amazon dedicated to small businesses, he said CPO Commerce did well this year.
“Our Prime Day was actually pretty good,” he said. “It started out Day One a little slower, and from what we saw, it was kind of a traffic-related thing. Also, the power-tool manufacturers didn’t spend much this year on promotions.
“It seemed like the manufacturers that we represent, they’re just not as deal-focused this year. They’re selling everything they can make. And so we’ve seen this all year long. They’ve kind of scaled back on the heavy promotional periods.”
This year, sales on the second day of the Prime Day sale were larger than on the first. That’s unusual, Ritter said.
“Normally we see it tapering off. Sometimes it’s inventory related … the deals run out … that type of thing. But this year, Day Two was stronger than Day One.”
When the sale ended, Ritter said sales in the aggregate across Amazon, other marketplaces and the company’s own site were up about 13% versus last year’s Prime Day.
How did Amazon do? Not so great, say experts
Outside observers, however, paint a less-than-fantastic picture of how Prime Day went for Amazon itself.
Criteo, which sells a technology platform aimed at helping merchants improve their return on advertising spend, said sales in the early part of Prime Day were slow. It said there was a 26% decrease year over year as compared with 2021.
- During the first 36 hours of Amazon Prime Day, sales 2022 numbers were not as strong as 2021, Criteo said. In 2021, Amazon Prime Day sales went up to an increase of +163% midday of the first day of sales. However, in 2022, midday sales increases were up only +52%, with a high of +74% at 9 p.m.
- In 2021, the second day of sales saw an increase of up to +94% midday. In 2022, there is a closer increase with a surge of up to +72%.
Was Prime Day a win for the ecommerce industry? Yes
In the end, the big winner on Prime Day appears to be the ecommerce business as a whole. Across both days, total U.S. online spend across retailers hit $11.9B ($6.0B on day 1; $5.9 on day 2). That represents 8.5% growth compared to last year’s Prime Day total online revenue ($11.0B), according to the Adobe Digital Economy Index.
- Both Days provided notable discounts for Consumers: Discount levels were consistent across both days. Discounts for Toys (15%) and Apparel (12%) remained the strongest. Categories that also saw noteworthy discounts: Electronics (6%), TVs (3%), and Computers (8%).
- Average online revenue lift across the U.S. was 141% compared to an average June day: Montana (172%), North Dakota (171%) and Alaska (166%) saw the biggest lifts in online spend on day 2 of Prime Day. Rhode Island (103%), Iowa (119%) and New Hampshire (123%) showed the least gains.
- Successful promotional campaigns are key: Email (171%), Paid Search (150%) and Social Networks (148%) channels saw the biggest increase in revenue contribution lift during Prime Day. Display and Affiliate saw smaller increases at 85% and 134% respectively.
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