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Amazon Prime Day is the largest online shopping day in history

by Ken Cassar - May 16, 2019

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Like a child about to open her birthday presents, we’ve been eager with anticipation to analyze results from Amazon’s second Prime Day here at Slice Intelligence. Amazon has released tantalizing clues about how the day performed, but, characteristically, each hint raises its own set of questions. This analysis is limited to the US, and includes both Amazon first party and Marketplace sales; all based upon data collected from Slice’s panel of more than four million online shoppers.

Without further ado, here is what we found:

Prime Day 2 was huge

US sales were up 50 percent from Amazon's inaugural Prime Day. It was the biggest US sales day ever, surpassing Cyber Monday 2015 (the previous high water mark) by a whopping 19 percent.  The average shopper spent $112 (up nine percent from last year), with an average order size of $54 (down two percent from last year).

Amazon is opening up its lead on US competitors

Amazon is the dominant e-commerce player in the US, with 38 percent market share across the consumer e-commerce sector year to date.  On Prime Day 2016, Amazon had - hold onto your hat – 74 percent of all US consumer e-commerce. This happened despite competitors’ efforts to attempt to draft off of Prime Day by offering their own sales.

Amazon again used Prime Day to develop its foundational platforms

Amazon Prime Now, which offers a limited array of products to Amazon Prime members in select markets, has been a big focus for the retailer since 2015. Recent analysis from Slice Intelligence in Manhattan, where Prime Now has been available since 2014, showed that only two percent of Amazon volume in Manhattan was coming through Prime Now; suggesting that consumers needed to be egged on to try the service. Prime Now was heavily promoted to those that lived in Prime Now markets on Prime Day, and it paid off. Of all customers that placed a Prime Now order on Prime day, 31 percent were first-time Prime Now customers. It seems that Amazon’s egging may pay a long-term dividend for the Prime Now business. Keep an eye on this space in the weeks to come, where we’ll evaluate the success of Amazon’s Prime Day efforts to grow its other two emerging platforms: Echo and Fire TV.

Heavy shoppers defined Prime Day

Amazon’s efforts to use Prime to drive consumer lock-in have paid off. In 2016, heavy Amazon shoppers (those who average more than four purchases per month with Amazon) accounted for 50 percent of Prime Day buyers and 56 percent of sales. This is up from 41 percent of buyers and 44 percent of sales on Prime Day 2015.

New shoppers accounted for just two percent of sales in 2016 (down from three percent in 2015). This illustrates the importance to Amazon's continued growth in consumer wallet share going forward to maintain robust sales growth.

Looking ahead to Prime Day 2017, there only seems to be upside for Amazon

As impressive as the Prime Day sales numbers are, only 13.5 percent of Amazon shoppers  shopped on Prime Day 2016, up from 11 percent in 2015.

This means that 86.5 percent of Amazon shoppers did not shop on Prime day 2016 and that the principal means of growth this year--a 38 percent increase in the number of Prime Day buyers--may be sustainable for years to come.

Implications and recommendations

Amazon’s ability to create a holiday in the middle of the summer is impressive. In one day, Amazon generated two percent of year-to-date sales. We believe that competitors’ efforts to draft off of Amazon’s own proprietary holiday are going to be futile. Instead of offering competing sales on and around Prime Day, retailers ought to consider creating a consortium-based approach (within the bounds of antitrust rules, of course) to create their own ‘own-able’ holiday during the summer. Back to school may be an opportunity, as Slice’s data has shown that online Back to School has never rivaled the strength of the season in brick and mortar.

With Prime Day 2016, Amazon built a strong foundation of three key platforms: Prime Now, Alexa (via Echo, Tap and Dot devices) and Fire TV. We believe that Prime Day was an important foundation for strong 2015 holiday performance from Amazon, where Amazon accounted for nearly half of online sales growth. Expect a strong holiday in 2016 from Amazon.

About this data

With a panel of over 4 million online shoppers, Slice Intelligence gives the most detailed, and accurate digital commerce data available, and is reported daily.

Slice Intelligence is the only service to measure digital commerce directly from the consumer, across all retailers, at the item level, and over time. Our retailer-independent methodology precisely measures commerce as it happens. By extracting detailed information from hundreds of millions of aggregated and anonymized e-receipts, Slice can map the entire Purchase Graph, connecting each and every consumer to all their purchases.

Slice gets its data from e-receipts – not a browser, app or software installed by the end-user – so its measurement reflects comprehensive shopping behavior across multiple devices, over time which are key in an increasingly omnichannel retail world. Slice Intelligence is the exclusive e-commerce data provider for the NPD’s Checkout Tracking e-commerce service.