Prime Day Hits Record of $11B Over Two Days

Prime Day 2021 feature 2

Prime Day 2021 is in the books with a record $11 billion in sales, according to Adobe’s Digital Economy Index, up 6.1% from $10.4 billion in 2020, when the event was held in October, but was not a winner for retailers not named Amazon, based on data from SalesForce.

Also, Wall Street was not particularly impressed with Prime Day’s performance, with Bank of America calling the results “soft” compared to last year’s spectacular growth, just eight months ago. The ecommerce giant’s stratospheric share price was negatively impacted – temporarily.

While Amazon said more than 250 million items were moved on Prime Day, the company’s announcement noticeably lacked the usual whiz-bang superlatives in describing the extravaganza. Instead, Amazon chose to call out the performance of smaller merchants, who realized $1.9 billion in sales through a $10 off promotion that started two weeks ahead of Prime Day, double the 2020 result.

Of course, Amazon devices were moved in huge bulk on Prime Day, surely a main focus for the company, with the various Alexa and Fire screens and devices outpacing last fall’s event.

Without Prime Day to suck oxygen out of the runup to peak season this fall, retailers and ecommerce companies in general should fare better than in 2020. However serious logistics headwinds remain in the global supply chain which are sure to negatively impact service levels and customer experience, despite carriers bulking up. Key logistics and delivery topics will be covered in depth ahead of peak at Ecommerce Operations Summit 2021 (Aug. 17-18, Gaylord Opreyland, Nashville).

It seems there was a decent Prime Day halo effect, even if Amazon’s overall results didn’t wow analysts. According to Bazaarvoice, 11,500 brands it works with that sell on Amazon saw a 7% sales increase on day one and a 5% bump on day two vs. 2020. The run-up was also lucrative for those sellers, Bazaarvoice reported, with orders increasing year-over-year during the prior month on all but four days, sometimes by as much as 33%. Two of the days seeing a decrease were last weekend, with consumers likely keeping their powder dry for the big deal.

SalesForce reported that global ecommerce sales for non-Amazon retailers on Monday and Tuesday was essentially flat when compared to Prime Day 2020 (Oct. 13-14), with total spend down 1%. To put that into perspective, SalesForce said last year’s global Prime Day sales were up 55% compared to 2019, so expecting that to repeat after an off-the-charts, singular year is unrealistic. The U.S. also saw flat growth, while Italy and the Asia-Pacific region, excluding Australia, New Zealand and Japan, were the biggest winners this Prime Day, up 47% and 41% and 47%, respectively.

As has been the case in past years, large retailers with over $1 billion in annual sales did better than smaller ones, seeing a 29% lift vs. an average June day, according to Adobe, but the gap is narrowing. Retailers with under $10 million in annual sales experienced a 21% increase in that comparison.

With so many more retailers adopting curbside pickup in the post-pandemic era, this now ingrained customer behavior contributed to a sales boost during Prime Day. Adobe reported companies offering curbside had a 10% sales gain over a typical June day, while those without it saw just a 3% boost.

Across both days, Adobe saw consistent discounting, with the largest price breaks in toys, averaging 12%, and appliances, at 5%. At the low end were TVs (3%), electronics (2%) and sporting goods (1%).

In terms of marketing channels, email and affiliate networks saw the largest revenue lift during Prime Day, at 161% and 163%, respectively, according to Adobe. Social (106%) and paid search (132%) did well but were outperformed by the other channels.

“U.S. retailers continued to benefit from strong shopping momentum on the second Prime Day,” said Taylor Schreiner, director of Adobe Digital Insights. “This is despite relatively muted discounts across most categories, suggesting that there’s pent-up demand for online shopping as consumers look forward to a return to normalcy.”

The Adobe Digital Economy Index looks at more than 1 trillion visits to U.S. retail sites and over 100 million SKUs in 18 product categories.