What really happened on Prime Day?

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By: Mike Giambattista, CLMP |

Posted on July 20, 2018

Amid the chaos and snafus, Amazon broke its own records.

First, I think we can settle once and for all that Amazon Prime is one of – if not THE – 900lb gorilla of loyalty programs.  Every once in a while we hear that it’s not a loyalty program in the true-est sense but let’s not get lost in semantics.  Prime members are loyal to their brand – and their spending proves it.

Amazon reports that this year’s Prime Day was “the biggest global shopping event in Amazon history” with members purchasing more than 100 million products that day.  Granted, this year’s Prime Day lasted 36 hours but again, let’s not get picky.  And while the official numbers are still out, retail think tank Coresight Research has predicted sales of $3.4 billion - $1 billion more than last year and almost $2 billion more than the year before.  I think it’s safe to say that Amazon Prime members are loyal.

Amazon welcomed more new Prime members on July 16 than any previous day in Amazon history.

According to TechCrunch, “the actual sales are just icing on the cake – Prime Day’s larger goal is increasing the number of subscribers for its now $119 per year Prime membership program. Turning online consumers into paying subscribers not only increases Amazon’s subscription revenues, it boosts overall sales …”

It’s worth noting that the day didn’t start out so well for Amazon or their Prime members.  Traffic loads caused the website to glitch frequently during the first few hours of the event.  Bad links, erroneous redirects, and phantom landing pages plagued shoppers and sent the Twittersphere chirping.  Internet Retailer estimated that the problems may have cost Amazon as much as $72.4 million in sales.

A now widely circulated internal document obtained by CNBC details the intense scramble those glitches set off within Amazon and some of the downline problems they caused. Amazon “failed to secure enough servers to handle the traffic surge on Prime Day, causing it to launch a scaled-down backup front page and temporarily kill off all international traffic.”  Ouch.  The document also noted that some warehouses said they weren’t even able to scan products or pack orders for a period of time.

My colleague, Aaron Dauphinee, has produced a definitive look at Amazon Prime Day through a customer loyalty lens.  That piece should be ready for prime time early this coming week so I have promised not to leak any of the surprises – except to say that he makes a very strong case for the “rising tide raises all boats”. Be sure to look for that in the coming days.

Mike Giambattista is Editor in Chief at The Wise Marketer and is a Certified Loyalty Marketing Professional (CLMP).