Overall sales of Prime Day 2021 were modest compared with growth in previous events. Marketplace goods’ sales increased more than Amazon’s own products' sales compared with Prime Day 2020. This is the second year in a row marketplace sales grew faster than Amazon's own products.

Amazon.com Inc.’s seventh-annual Prime Day is in the books. While Prime Day 2021 marked yet another record-breaking two-day event for the retail giant, year-over-year growth decelerated quite a bit compared with previous Prime Days, a Digital Commerce 360 early analysis shows.

Digital Commerce 360 estimates Amazon’s sales on Prime Day hit $11.19 billion globally over the two-day period spanning June 21 and June 22, up 7.6% during the 48-hour event in October 2020 when sales reached $10.39 billion.

Overall, Prime members purchased more than 250 million items worldwide during the 2021 event, Amazon says. Best-selling categories worldwide included tools, beauty, nutrition, baby care, Amazon devices, electronics, apparel and housewares, the retail giant says.

What is Prime Day?

Prime Day, which features deals on many products on Amazon.com, began in 2015 as a celebration of Amazon’s 20th year in business. It turned into a summer sales holiday designed to drum up additional business for Amazon—and the retailer’s marketplace sellers—before the holiday shopping season. In recent years, other large retailers have offered promotions on their own websites around Prime Day to take advantage of the additional online shoppers.

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Prime Day 2021 falls less than a year after the 2020 sales event. Amazon postponed Prime Day last year to mid-October from its usual summertime slot because of the coronavirus pandemic, which shifted consumers’ shopping priorities, impacted retailers’ supply chains and inventory, and led more shoppers to Amazon.com to purchase essential items.

Prime Day also is a vehicle for Amazon to sign up more consumers for its Prime membership, a $119 per year or $12.99 a month loyalty program that offers such perks as free one- or two-day shipping, digital photo storage and video streaming. Prime Day deals are only available to Prime members, which now total 200 million worldwide, CEO Jeff Bezos said in his annual letter to shareholders in April. That’s up from 150 million global Prime members in January 2020 and 100 million in April 2018.

Amazon’s marketplace sellers grew more on Prime Day

For the second year in a row, it was clear Amazon focused more on its marketplace sellers—which it refers to as small businesses—than it has in the past. And the results show it. Sales of marketplace products grew 12.0%, Digital Commerce 360 estimates. That compares to a 5.3% growth of Amazon’s own products, which includes its private-label goods, based on our early analysis. “Prime Day delivered the two biggest days ever for small and medium-sized businesses… growing even more than Amazon retail,” Amazon said in a release discussing post-event results.

Amazon’s marketplace sales as a share of total Prime Day sales on Amazon had been declining for years before 2020, according to Digital Commerce 360’s analysis. This is likely because Amazon heavily promotes its own products, such as its Alexa-enabled devices, during the sale. Its devices often top the list of best sellers each year. Digital Commerce 360 estimates marketplace sellers’ sales only account for about a third of Prime Day sales. This breakdown is different from Amazon’s annual gross merchandise sales, for which marketplace sellers accounted for approximately 60% in 2019.

This year and last year, however, our analysis shows the share of marketplace sales is growing on Prime Day. We project marketplace sales accounted for approximately 36% during Prime Day, up from 35% in 2020 and 32% in 2019.

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Sales of marketplace products are growing because Amazon has had a bigger focus on it the last two Prime Day events. For example, it offered “curated small business collections” during Prime Day, where consumers could filter marketplace sellers’ products by merchandise category, business location and collections such as Black-owned, woman-owned and military family-owned businesses.

Additionally, for the second year in a row, Amazon offered consumers an incentive to purchase from marketplace merchants. Prime members received $10 to shop on any products during Prime Day if they had spent at least $10 on items sold by marketplace sellers from June 7-20. More than 300,000 sellers were eligible for the “Spend $10, Get $10″ promotion—more than twice as many as last year, the company says. This promotion is funded by Amazon. Amazon says this promotion generated $1.9 billion in sales during the two weeks leading up to Prime Day, up from $900 million last year.

 

How Prime Day fared on non-Amazon sites

Other retailers promoted deals during Prime Day to capitalize on the increased volume of traffic online. 50.8% of the top 250 North American retailers offered a widespread sales event on their ecommerce sites, according to Digital Commerce 360’s analysis. Digital Commerce 360 staff checked the top 250 websites on June 21 to see if the retailer offered a sitewide sale, what the sale was and if the retailer mentioned “Prime” in any way. The 250 retailers are pulled from Digital Commerce 360’s Top 1000 ranking, which ranks the largest North American retailers by online sales.

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40.7% of the retailers that had sales were retail chains, higher than any other merchant type. Retail chains have a leg up on other retailers because many offer store pickup options—side-stepping the pressure to offer fast shipping.

 

Among the top 100, which includes large retailers like Walmart Inc. and Target Corp., 57% offered a widespread sale and 35.7% explicitly promoted a competing Prime Day sale by either using similar language such as “Prime,” “two-day sale” or “no membership required”—a direct take at Amazon requiring a Prime membership to participate in Prime Day deals.

 Jessica Young, Brendan Reilly and Tabitha Cassidy contributed to this article. 

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