Offline Retailers See Huge Boost From Prime Day’s Online Sales

This post is the latest in our “Disrupting Retail” series. It’s our editorial focus for the month of July, including topics like in-store innovation and Amazon’s moves. See the rest of the series here


By nearly every measure, this year’s Prime Day was a major success for Amazon. The retailer sold more than 175 million items during the two-day event, topping the combined sales from last year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

But Amazon wasn’t the only retailer to see high purchase intent during its two-day event. Competing retailers saw similar successes piggybacking on Amazon’s newest shopping holiday with their own discounts and limited-time deals. This year’s Prime Day event drove a 14% spike in U.S. traffic on its first day, compared to baseline traffic from the month of June.

According to data collected by Constructor.io, an AI-first SaaS provider for ecommerce sites, among the non-Amazon companies having sales during Prime Day, search volume increased an average of more than 500%. The biggest lift was seen in the apparel category and the smallest bump in groceries. Constructor.io also found that non-Amazon shopping sites saw four times the typical amount of purchases per user.

“The most interesting thing about Prime Day is how well other retailers have co-opted Amazon’s holiday into massive gains for themselves. Companies across the board, some directly competing with Amazon, others selling products Amazon does not focus on, all saw a bump during the holiday,” said Constructor.io CEO Eli Finkelshteyn.

Data from Finkelshteyn’s company found that anyone running a sale on Prime Day wins, since users are more willing to shop on other sites—both big and small—during the two-day event. Shoppers also spent a lot of time searching and buying products, especially in the luxury category.

Target and Walmart weren’t the only retailers to jump on board with Prime Day events this year. A survey by RetailMeNot found that 250 retailers were expected to leverage Prime Day with their own incentives and promotions. That’s up from 194 in 2018 and 119 in 2017. An analysis by Akamai, a content delivery network service provider for media and software delivery, found that large retailers—defined as those with $1 billion-plus in annual revenue—experienced a 72% increase in online sales the second day of Prime Day, compared to an average Tuesday, and a 64% increase on the first day.

Those retailers didn’t have to get too creative with their promotional strategies. Most used the Black Friday playbook, with major discounts on selected items, with a particular emphasis on TVs, video game consoles, laptops, and Apple Watches. Target, Best Buy and Macy’s also tied their July promotions to back-to-school, combining Prime Day with a more traditional shopping season.

As one of Amazon’s biggest competitors, Walmart saw the greatest wins with its Big Save event. That promotional event started before Prime Day. The retailer did a better-than-expected job bringing online shoppers in-store during the sale. According to an analysis of foot traffic by the mobile location analytics platform Placer.ai, in-store traffic at Walmart rose 25.7% above the baseline on Friday, July 12th, 37.5% on Saturday the 13th, and 26.1% on Sunday the 14th.

Over at Target, foot traffic was up 3%, 4.4%, and 4.9% on Monday through Wednesday, representing huge gains on the norm. Best Buy’s weekend traffic fell in line with earlier weeks in the summer, but the retailer’s Monday and Tuesday visits were up 6.5% and 4.6%, respectively.

“We were very pleasantly surprised to see how much of a boost offline retail saw from such a huge online event,” says Ethan Chernofsky, VP of Marketing at Placer.ai. “Last year, it was just Whole Foods driving value, but this year some major players saw significant jumps. It’s an incredibly promising sign for a retail future that emphasizes a harmonious interaction between in-store and online retail.”

Finkelshteyn concurs and says he expects to see even more retailers using the shopping event to generate summertime sales in the coming years. He’ll also be watching closely to see the role that voice search plays.

“Next year will likely be similar, with more purchases both on Amazon and its competitors. What will be fascinating to watch is how those purchases are made,” Finkelshteyn says. “As Amazon continues to push hard with marketing and discounts to get its Echo devices in users homes, my eyes will be on how many users it can convince to shop on them.”

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.

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