Assessing The Successes And #Fails Of Amazon Prime Day 2016

After much buzz, Amazon’s second annual Prime Day has come and gone; and while shoppers eagerly await their purchase arrivals, the company may be popping champagne bottles. Whether or not retailers decided to try to beat or join Amazon on Prime Day, there is still plenty to learn from the company’s successful sale (as well as where Amazon missed the mark), including:

  • If you’re not a third-party seller, you may be missing out, especially if your inventory consists of electronics or toys;
  • Having technical issues during a big sale? Handle it as swiftly as possible because the wrath of Twitter awaits; and
  • Take advantage of mobile apps, so consumers don’t have an excuse to miss a big sale.

Amazon announced record-breaking numbers following the sale event, including: 

  • Customer orders surpassed Prime Day 2015 by more than 60% worldwide, and more than 50% in the U.S.;
  • Amazon third-party sellers and small businesses saw orders nearly triple year-over-year — both worldwide and in the U.S.; and
  • More than 88.6 thousand Tweets using the hashtag #PrimeDay: 27% positive, 64% neutral and 9% negative. 

Has Amazon Cemented Its Future Following Prime Day Success?

Many retail and business executives are sharing their insights on the success of Prime Day and Amazon’s future. Here are a few, from a RetailWire conversation:


“Amazon is moving from an online retailer to a way of life — kind of how Apple turned a phone into something people can’t live without.” – Shep Hyken, Chief Amazement Officer, Shepard Presentations

“Amazon’s success here is forcing retailers to respond with their own value equation and creating excitement to attract foot traffic and purchase clicks.” – Mohammed Amer, Global Head of Strategic Communications, Consumer Industries, SAP

“Amazon continues its dominance and the value of being ‘customer obsessed’ for two decades.” – Phil Rubin, CEO, rDialogue

Here are some highlights of most-purchased items on Prime Day 2016:

  • Two million toys;
  • One million pairs of shoes;
  • 90,000 TVs; and
  • 200,000 headphones.

The metrics obviously are great, but did Amazon truly up the ante on the event this year compared to last year? It seems as though the answer is yes. But there is undoubtedly more room for improvement.

“Early indications are that Prime Day 2016 has been better received than last year’s event,” said Tom Caporaso, CEO of Clarus Commerce, in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “A site called has been comparing this year’s offers to Amazon’s offers on Prime Day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday last year, and the vast majority of this year’s deals have offered lower prices.”

Amazon Haunted By #PrimeDayFail Hashtag And Technical Hiccup

Last year’s event sparked some unhappy customers, resulting in uproar on Twitter with hashtags such as #PrimeDayFail. While this year’s Twitter feedback was relatively neutral, the retailer was still haunted by the hashtag, which was used 1,426 times according to online media monitoring platform Visibrain.

Other customers took to Twitter to dub Prime Day as “Add to Cart Failed Day” because the event began with a technical hiccup where some members received “add to cart fail” messages when attempting to purchase items on the site.

“Amazon is notoriously tight-lipped about many things, so I suspect we won’t learn the exact nature of the problem,” said Caporaso. “It might have had something to do with the amount of traffic was seeing and/or the popularity of certain deals.”

Fortunately, the retailer was able to put out the fire quickly. The rest of the day seemed to run smoothly.

Small Business And Marketplace Sellers Were Satisfied

In addition to the greater Amazon, many marketplace and small business sellers were pleased with Prime Day results.  Most saw orders nearly triple year-over-year, according to Amazon.

A few happy sellers raved about their sales in a release from Amazon. “On Prime Day we had one of the largest sales days in our company’s 108-year history,” said Larry Frankel, Director of Director of Business Development at Huppins/OneCall, an electronics retailer. ”[It’s] a win for sellers and customers.”

“Prime Day was our biggest day of the year,” noted Emily Wilcox, Founder of Fayebeline baby apparel. “We more than quadrupled the number of sales from our previous biggest sales day.”

“Prime Day introduced Cielo to countless new customers and increased my daily sales 1,000% in a single day,” said Christine Boerner, Founder, Cielo Pill Holders, makers of keychain pill fobs.

Lessons Learned For The Rest Of The Retail Industry

The success of Prime Day certainly is good news for Amazon and its sellers, but what does it mean for other retailers?

“Whether or not they held promotions to compete with Prime Day, retailers need to do the same thing that Amazon will do: Gather, analyze, and learn from the data generated by its customers and its internal processes today,” said Clarus Commerce’s Caporaso. “, for example, will analyze this year’s result at the conclusion of the event and apply what we learn to optimize our efforts and enhance our members’ experiences next year.”  

A surprising takeaway retailers can get out of Prime Day 2016 is the importance of providing alternative ways for customers to attend big sale events, such as via mobile shopping apps. According to the Amazon, Prime member orders on the Amazon app surpassed Prime Day 2015 app orders by more than 2x. Additionally, more than one million customers used the app for the first time on Prime Day 2016.

One thing Amazon did miss out on this year is a personalization aspect. The retailer could have provided consumers with a suggested Prime Day sale items based off their purchase history, for example. Instead, consumers had to do their own searching and scrolling.

“The best defense at retail is personalization,” said David Ciancio, Senior Customer Strategist at dunnhumby, in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “While customers delight in a ‘treasure hunt’ and love big ‘doorbuster’ savings events, the opportunity to curate offers by customer / household preference is the key to unlocking the full potential of these type of events.”

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