(This article was first published on October 7, 2020. We recently updated it to include the latest results from Prime Day 2020.)
In 2015, Amazon celebrated their 20th year in business by having an exclusive sale for their Prime members. Fast forward to 2020, and the faux holiday has turned into a major online event for many retailers.
Due to the global pandemic, this year’s event was moved from July to October. Let’s look at how this online sales event has evolved over the years, especially in 2020.
Amazon Prime Day Historic Trends vs What Happened in 2020
See how Amazon has turned their anniversary sale into one of their biggest sales days of the year.
Increasing Prime Memberships
Look back to articles in 2015 and you’ll find headlines that call Prime Day a “disappointment.” While this referred to software glitches and small product selection, it doesn’t reference what the true purpose of the event is — to drive new Prime memberships and sales.
In 2015, Amazon VP Greg Greeley said that “hundreds of thousands” of new Prime members signed up to take part in the first membership-only sale and that they ordered 400 items per second. He called the sale a huge success, and predicted that they would run the sale for years to come.
Now, it was reported Amazon had 112 million Prime members in 2019, up from 54 million in 2015. And, members accounted for about 65% of Amazon shoppers in the last quarter of 2019. [DigitalCommerce360]
What Happened in 2020: The online sale is still meant to encourage users to sign up for Amazon Prime for the first time to take advantage of low prices and free shipping. And once they sign up, users tend to stick with the program after the 30-day trial.
64% of consumers who sign up for a trial membership convert to a paid membership, according to CIRP, and 93% of consumers continue to pay for the program after 1 year, while 98% stay signed up after they’ve been Prime members for 2 years. [Digital Commerce 360]
Amazon’s Biggest Sale Day
Prime Day has easily become one of Amazon’s biggest sales days, consistently outperforming Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Last year, Amazon hit over $7 billion in sales over the 48-hour period — up from 71% in 2018.
What Happened in 2020: While overall a smaller increase than last year (as expected), Amazon still surpassed last year by 45.2% and hit $10.40 billion globally over a two-day period. [Digital Commerce 360]
Amazon Focuses on Own Product Over Marketplace Sellers
Over the years, Amazon has also used Prime Day to increase sales for their own products, instead of products from their third-party sellers. While sales of products from marketplace sellers crossed $2 billion in 2019, they only accounted for about a third of overall Prime Day sales.
Further, Digital Commerce 360 has estimated a steady decline in percentage of sales from marketplace sellers since 2015 from 48% to 32% last year.
What Happened in 2020: Top-selling products worldwide this year were the Alexa-enabled Amazon’s Echo Dot and Fire Stick 4K.
However, Amazon did take a small initiative this year to promote marketplace sellers in light of the pandemic. Shoppers could spend $10 on select Amazon small business products and earn $10 to spend on Prime Day.
And, the initiative paid off. Marketplace sales notably grew for the first time from 32% to 35% of total Prime Day sales to $3.5 billion. The promotion also generated more than $900 million in marketplace sales. Top-selling categories were home goods, electronics, nutrition and crafts. [Digital Commerce 360]
Major Retailers Cash In On Prime Day
The success of Prime Day goes beyond Amazon. Over the years, major retailers have been to take advantage of Prime Day shoppers looking for the best deal online.
Retail rivals to Amazon with annual sales of $1 billion or more (Target, Walmart, Best Buy etc.) posted a 64% increase in sales during Prime Day 2019.
Even small retailers under $5 million were able to cash in on the big event. According to Adobe, they saw a 30% lift in sales during the event, unlike reported decrease in revenue in 2018. [Multichannel Merchant]
What Happened in 2020: 51% of the top 100 retailers offered widespread sales on Tuesday resulting in a 51% increase in online traffic compared to 2019. Further, online sales for non-Amazon sites grew by 76% in the U.S. compared to the first day of Prime Day 2019. [Digital Commerce 360]
Over the years, major retailers like Target and Walmart use email marketing and Buy Online, Pick Up In Store (BOPIS) to increase sales.
Retailers saw a modest 12% increase in BOPIS average order values in 2019. [Multichannel Merchant]
Will Amazon Prime Day 2020 Affect 2020 Holiday Sales?
The big question this year was whether Prime Day would affect holiday sales. Typically, Prime Day happens in July, when shoppers are thinking about back-to-school, not holiday shopping.
This year’s Prime Day happened just 44 days before Black Friday, and Amazon hoped to cash in on consumers shopping early.
Already, 48% of consumers said they plan to buy half or more of their holiday gifts at Amazon.com.
On top of that, nearly 40% of shoppers have reported that they will have started their holiday shopping by the end of October. [Digital Commerce 360]
What Happened in 2020: A reported 30% of consumers purchased holiday gifts on Amazon during the sale, and 51% bought items that were included in Prime Day Deals. [Digital Commerce 360]
However, many experts noticed that Amazon did not promote Prime Day as their “biggest sales day ever” as compared to years past. Instead, the focus was on the growth of marketplace sales. This could be part political as Amazon tries to shake off mistrust among small businesses.
Or, was Amazon disappointed in their overall sales with Prime Day running so close to holiday shopping?
Either way, Prime Day and now Halloween are setting the stage for what to expect during the holidays. To keep up on any trends or tips for online selling, subscribe to the Payability newsletter to get insights sent straight to your inbox.
Sources and Citation Info:
To be clear, none of the statistics above are based on research by Payability. This post is a compilation of statistics from various web sources that are cited throughout the article. We hope to give you one, convenient place to find data about Amazon Prime Day shopping trends.
For any formal or academic purposes, please cite the original source of the data.