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New numbers: Prime Day glitch hurt sales

Amazon called its fourth annual Prime Day the company’s biggest shopping event yet, however it could have been bigger.

A total of 52% of consumers experienced technical difficulties overall during the two-day flash sale earlier this week, and 27% of those who experienced technical issues either gave up without making purchases or purchased less than they had planned, according to new data from JDA.

According to the survey, the top platforms used to shop on Prime Day were mobile/tablet (60%) or desktop or laptop (53%). Only 9% of the total respondents said they shopped through Whole Foods Market. Of those who did, 75% said that they regularly shop at Whole Foods already and benefited from the discounts. The other 25% purposely shopped at Whole Foods during Prime Day to take advantage of the discounts.

“Prime Day is clearly still an online event, despite Amazon’s attempt to integrate Whole Foods into this year’s promotions,” said JoAnn Martin, VP, retail industry strategy, North America at JDA. “Since those who already are regular Whole Food shoppers were the ones who benefited from the discounts, it wasn’t driving additional footfall to brick-and-mortar locations.”

The majority of respondents (74%) said they shopped for themselves during Amazon’s shopping marathon. Discounts were the top driver, with 62% of respondents saying they were their motivator to shop on Amazon Prime Day.

Among those who were able to make purchases, 40% said they made unplanned purchases based on items on sale, while 31% of survey respondents said they planned out purchases ahead of time. Meanwhile, 10% of customers planned out purchases ahead of time, but made purchases based on what was on sale, and ultimately, all of their items were discounted. Only 19% of survey respondents said all of their items were discounted.

While the retail industry continues to struggle with returns, Prime Day shoppers plan to keep the items, with 84% of respondents stating that they did not purchase items with plans to return some of them (e.g., buying multiple sizes). However, men were slightly more likely (22%) to purchase items with plans to return them than women (10%).

While some retailers expected the shopping event to kick-start the back-to-school (BTS) season, 77% of Amazon customers said they didn’t make any purchases specifically for BTS. This changed given the age range of the respondent, with 32% of 18-to-29-year-olds and 28.08% of 30-to-44-year-olds stating that they typically use the sale to buy products for BTS.

Prime Day also had little influence on respondents’ overall holiday spending, with 52% saying it will not influence holiday spending at all.

“Similar to Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba’s Singles Day in the fall, Amazon Prime Day is a way for shoppers to buy items for themselves, as part of the ‘treat yourself’ movement. It shows little effect on spending for other shopping seasons, like the holidays or back-to-school,” said Martin. “Even given the hype and teasers from Amazon ahead of the event, consumers are still making purchases on what is available and on sale, allowing Amazon to get rid of slower moving inventory or overstocked items, which is a smart move for all retailers when considering a flash sale.”
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