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No Lack of Demand for Deals on Amazon Prime Day

Shopping is a blood sport, and when Black Friday deals are promised in the middle of July, they better be good. Amazon perhaps did too good a job hyping its Amazon Prime Day, held Wednesday, July 15th, because it left many shoppers expressing disappointment. The Twitter hashtag #PrimeDay turned to #PrimeDayFail, as this comic tweet illustrates.

Regardless, before 2 pm Eastern, Amazon told EcommerceBytes its peak order rates had already surpassed Black Friday 2014.

While some may have considered the deal for a set of Rubbermaid containers at 40% off unexciting, Amazon sold 28,000 sets before 2 pm – how many retailers could do that on a summer weekday?

“The 1.2K of $999 TVs sold out in less than 10 minutes,” the spokesperson told us, and Amazon sold mass quantities of its own tech gadgets (tens of thousands of its Fire TV Sticks, and 4,000 Echos in 15 minutes).

And keep in mind, the deals weren’t open to everyone – only Prime members. How many Prime subscribers are there? Even a Hollywood gossip columnist couldn’t pry the information from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. Okay, the reporter interviewing Bezos was actually a Hollywood Reporter technology staff writer, not a gossip columnist, but when she asked Bezos in a feature interview, “Will we at least find out how many Amazon Prime subscribers there are,” she didn’t get much – only this factoid, “We grew 53 percent year-over-year, so it’s a big number.”

Normally during the holidays, shoppers have plenty of websites to look for deals – on Wednesday, it was all about Amazon (and Walmart to a lesser degree) – something that could have contributed to shoppers’ dismay when finding the items they wanted were sold out.

There was also a glitch on Amazon.com during the morning as West Coast folks joined the rest of the country in checking the deals, but it turned out to be a momentary blip on the radar screen.

Amazon had run a national TV ad campaign to get the word out about Prime. You can see the spot on YouTube. It had been seen there 11,004 times from the time Amazon uploaded it on July 7 through the afternoon of July 14th.

The abstract followed the script pretty closely: “On July 15th, it’s Amazon Prime Day. A one-day only event with more deals than Black Friday, exclusive for Amazon Prime members. Not a Prime member? Sign up today at Amazon.com/primeday!”

iSpot.tv reported the ad had been aired on TV 1,085 times as of the afternoon of July 14th. By Wednesday evening, it had been aired 1,322 times.

It certainly seems possible Amazon underestimated the hunger for deals on its first ever Prime Day, with so many items sold out. Was it a success? As readers have noted, disappointment or not, everyone was talking about Amazon this week. “Even though I didn’t find anything on Amazon today, just promoting and keeping the Amazon name out there had to have paid off big time,” wrote one reader. “Crickets at eBay,” wrote another, “and no efforts whatsoever to drum up business.”

Comment on the AuctionBytes Blog.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.