Ama­zon’s Prime Day its big­gest shop­ping day ever

The Hamilton Spectator - - BUSINESS - SPENCER SOPER

Ama­zon’s third an­nual Prime Day event turned out to be the big­gest day ever for the e-com­merce gi­ant, with sales sur­pass­ing tra­di­tional re­tail­ing blowouts like Black Fri­day and Cy­ber Mon­day.

The most pop­u­lar pur­chase over the 30-hour event was Ama­zon’s Echo Dot mini-speaker, which was dis­counted by 30 per cent.

Hav­ing ex­tended the shop­ping spree by six hours, Ama­zon said the event grew by more than 60 per cent com­pared with the same 30hour pe­riod last year. The promotion also saw an in­flux of new Prime members, Ama­zon said.

Ama­zon Prime costs $99 a year and pro­vides perks such as free two-day ship­ping on many items as well as mu­sic and video stream­ing.

“Tens of mil­lions” of Prime members made a pur­chase dur­ing the event this year, more than 50 per cent higher than last year, Ama­zon said in a state­ment.

The Seat­tle-based com­pany uses the July sales event to pro­mote Prime mem­ber­ship and con­vert the oc­ca­sional Ama­zon shopper into a devo­tee.

But the Prime busi­ness model is un­der in­creas­ing com­pe­ti­tion. Wal­mart in Jan­uary be­gan of­fer­ing free two-day ship­ping on mil­lions of items with­out a mem­ber­ship. And Macy’s of­fered free ship­ping on all or­ders, re­gard­less of price, Tues­day only.

Ama­zon used steep dis­counts to turn its Echo speaker line into a best­seller. Even if Ama­zon loses money on the de­vice sales, it gets a toe­hold for its Alexa plat­form to be­come more con­nected to shop­pers who can use it to check the weather, stream mu­sic, hail an Uber, order pizza — and of course buy more from Ama­zon — by voice com­mand.

The orig­i­nal Echo model was dis­counted 50 per cent to $90. Ama­zon said Prime members pur­chased seven times more Ama­zon Echo de­vices globally than dur­ing the event last year.

Ama­zon has been in­tro­duc­ing new lines of the speak­ers that have screens and can take pic­tures. The com­pany is bet­ting heav­ily on the de­vices to keep ahead of Al­pha­bet Inc.’s Google and Ap­ple in the emerg­ing field of voice-based computing.

“They see voice as the third-gen­er­a­tion plat­form for or­der­ing things on­line,” said Matt Sar­gent, se­nior vice-pres­i­dent of re­tail at the Min­neapo­lis con­sult­ing firm Frank N. Magid As­so­ciates. “They want these de­vices in as many places as pos­si­ble in case peo­ple shift from or­der­ing on mo­bile de­vices to or­der­ing with their voices.”

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