Glitches, Dogs, and Echo Dots: Prime Day so Far


Prime Day, Amazon’s annual sales event, kicked off at 12:00 PM on the West Coast yesterday. As a highly anticipated (and heavily promoted) event, Prime Day has been dominating conversations surrounding e-commerce. Let’s take a look at how the first half-day of Prime Day went down.

Oops! Here are some dogs

While browsing Amazon for deals, many users came across a “SORRY” message, stating that “something went wrong on our end.” As a consolation prize, users were invited to “meet the dogs of Amazon,” over and over again. I had the pleasure of meeting the dogs of Amazon, both when searching for specific products and when clicking on promoted links (including the main banner) on Amazon’s homepage. For the record, my favorite Amazon dog was Clancy.

Some shoppers were amused while others were annoyed. These glitches are reminiscent of the website errors in years past that resulted in less-than-expected sales figures.

More than just shopping glitches

In addition to shoppers seeing fluffy 404 pages on the Amazon marketplace, Downdetector showed thousands of consumer reports of Alexa and Prime Video being down. To top it off, Amazon Web Services, or AWS, reported outages and problems across the globe, affecting thousands of large companies that rely on the service to manage their websites and more.

Stock in flux

Amazon’s stock slowly rose during the beginnings of Prime Day, but quickly took a nosedive after glitches started to pop up. Whether or not the glitches will take a toll on Amazon’s bottom line is yet to be seen — many customers were able to keep shopping after several trips to the dog park, so the retailer might be in the clear. Amazon responded to the glitches on Twitter in a damage-control kind of way, stating that “many are shopping successfully,” and boasting that they had surpassed last year’s first-hour sales.

Depending on severity, the AWS issues may be another story; Amazon Web Services account for about 11% of Amazon’s total revenue.

Promotions are predictable

As expected, Amazon is heavily promoting their own products, including Echos, Fire TVs, and Kindles, as well as AmazonEssentials and other Amazon-owned private label brands. Last Prime Day, Amazon’s top-selling product in the US was the Echo Dot, which is being featured again for just under $30. Amazon’s promotions for their own products are overt, and have been dominating homepage real estate. This morning, for example, I saw the same Fire Stick deal at the very top of… twice.

The retailer is also running some large campaigns for big brands, including promoting a free box of Honey Nut Cheerios, Fossil watches, and a large selection of Bulletproof products. Amazon is live streaming a QVC-style “Prime Day Live” feed to promote current lightning deals, which appears to be very similar to their “Today’s Deals Live” feed that is often found on the Amazon homepage.

Despite hangups, sales are up 50%

According to Fortune and Feedvisor, Amazon’s Prime Day sales are estimated to be 50% higher than they were in 2017. “Shoppers spent 54% more in the first three hours of this year’s event — 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. EST — than in the first three hours of a year ago when the shopping bonanza began at 9 p.m.,” Fortune reports. Prime Day sales clocked in at an estimated $2.51 billion in 2017, and have been estimated to surpass $3.4 billion this year. If Amazon can achieve a 50% increase, sales would blow the 2018 estimate out of the water, totaling nearly $3.8 billion in sales. All this being said, there’s still plenty of time to go — post-event reports and stock price changes should indicate how successful this year’s Prime Day truly is.