What Did We Learn from Amazon Prime Day 2018?

Mobile use increased and that arrow is likely pointing up

Amazon Prime Day was just last month, but by hype-cycle standards July might as well be last year. Reports keep coming in, though, and are adding more color to the original narrative. The online giant said more than 100 million products were purchased during the event in 2018. And it looks like mobile is playing a larger part.

According to a July 2018 survey by AlixPartners, Amazon Prime Day does have a lot of recognition for a recently created shopping holiday; 60% of US internet users were aware of it, compared with 88% who were aware of Black Friday. But that still leaves 40% who hadn't heard of it, and by our measures 49.1% of US internet users are also Amazon Prime users, leaving roughly 10% in the dark.

This meshes with findings by InfoScout, which discovered 89% of Amazon Prime Day shoppers were aware of the event beforehand. A majority (54%) of respondents said Prime Day was the primary reason they were shopping on Amazon that day, while 44% said 2018 was their first year shopping on Prime Day. Roughly one-third had heard about Prime Day organically. Most (51%) heard about it on Amazon.com, while 43% learned about it from an Amazon email and 40% from Amazon's mobile app. 

A surprisingly low number of consumers (30%) planned to shop on Prime Day when surveyed by Internet Retailer in early July. Did this play out in practice?

Technical problems played a minor role. According to JDA data, 15.9% of Amazon Prime Day shoppers experienced technical difficulties that day and gave up without buying, while 11.3% purchased fewer products than intended because of the glitch. In a recent survey by AYTM Market Research, 67% of those who participated in Prime Day watched items and 30% added items to their wish lists, but only 53% made a purchase. 

Most had been Prime members for one to four years (58%), while 19% signed up just to shop on Prime Day. That one-fifth is significant since it's no secret that Prime Day is intended to give Amazon a membership boost. The price increase this year from $99 to $119 did not seem to be a major deterrent. 

Mobile was a notable 2018 trend that will certainly gain more momentum for next year. The use of mobile, particularly smartphones, makes sense since the sale lasted 36 hours and many items were available exclusively during set periods—blocks of time that a shopper might not be in front of a computer. 

While the number of mobile shoppers on Prime Day varied according to research firm and many were multidevice shoppers, mobile devices were used more than laptops or desktops. 

  • 67% on mobile vs. 41% via computer (InfoScout)
  • 60.4% on mobile vs. 53.0% on laptop/desktop (JDA)
  • 45% on mobile vs. 43% via laptop and 36% on desktop (AYTM)

Despite the Amazon Echo Dot being the No. 2 best-seller of the day, fewer than 3% shopped using voice-activated assistants per both InfoScout and JDA.

Amazon aggressively discounted its less mainstream Echo devices, the Echo Show (from $229 to $129) and Echo Look (from $199 to $99), which signals intent to get more consumers on board with visual commerce. It's to be seen how these hybrid voice-activated devices with cameras and screens will be radically different from tablets or smartphones already in homes, but it's likely Amazon has bigger plans for them beyond helping users to take selfies and receive wardrobe advice.