We’re not going to lie, as soon as we string two days of sun together here in the UK office, we start thinking about those upcoming Amazon Prime Day deals. Ok, that and whether we should chance getting the barbecue out of the shed.
The sale grows in scope and ambition every year and there’s no reason to not think that Amazon Prime Day 2019 won’t be the biggest one yet. The online behemoth’s sales event of the summer was the biggest day of sales in its history last year, with over 89 million visits logged (10% more than in 2017). We can only see 2019 being even bigger as the sale has grown every year since launching back in 2015.
While November’s Black Friday deals certainly see a wider range of retailers unleashing some of the hottest deals you’ll find all year, Prime Day is mainly about Amazon rocking the best offers. Sure, other retailers might try to match prices or launch rival sales (and of course we’ll be sure to roundup the best of them too) but make no mistake, the best deals and low prices will be found at Amazon.
When is Amazon Prime Day 2019?
So, as with every Prime Day sale so far, we expect it to be a July event, taking place towards the middle of the month. We think Amazon Prime Day 2019 will take place on Tuesday July 16th – with the deals themselves actually starting the day before on the 15th and ending at some point on Wednesday the 17th.
Amazon Prime Day itself seems to be growing each year, it’s gone from 24 hours, to 30 and then 36 last year. So we certainly wouldn’t bet against it going on for 40 hours this year. And let’s face it with the Amazon Black Friday deals event now lasting about a week, anything’s possible. Except sleep apparently if you’re a Deals Editor.
We’ll be front and centre for the entire thing to ensure you can see the best deals as navigating the messy array of deals and discounted tat can be a bit exhausting directly on Amazon’s site. Fortunately, we’re used to trawling for deals there every day and we usually learn of the best deals way in advance, giving us plenty of time to prepare coverage for you.
Amazon won’t be announcing the official date of Amazon Prime Day 2019 for a while yet. It only officially announced the date a couple of weeks before the event last year, but we actually managed to exclusively leak the date a month in advance thanks to a bit of snooping around on the website.
What were the best-selling Prime Day items last year?
Amazon sold over 100 million products around the world and over one million smart home devices – not just Amazon ones but Philips Hue lights, Hive thermostats and various manufacturers’ smart plugs. Prime Day was the biggest day ever for Echo devices, Fire tablets for kids, Kindle e-readers and Fire TV products.
Amazon said the two best-sellers worldwide were the Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote and the Echo Dot. Both of those items have actually been replaced with newer versions since – thankfully without a bump in RRP. So we totally expect the newer Amazon Echo Dot (3rd gen) and Fire TV Stick with the all-new Alexa voice remote (it now has extra buttons for volume control and gaming) to get similar discounts for the best prices of the year.
Other best-sellers included:
- 300,000 six-quart Instant Pots
- 150,000 LifeStraw personal water filters
- Bosch cordless power tools and Philips Hue lights
- Sandisk microSD cards
What were the best deals on Prime Day?
As ever, some of the best deals on Prime Day were on Amazon’s own devices, some of which have since been discontinued and replaced with new and improved models. The original Echo Show dropped from £199.99 to £99.99, the Echo Spot from £119.99 to £89.99, the 2nd-gen Echo Dot from £49.99 to £29.99 and the main Echo from £89.99 to £59.99.
Kindles and Fire HDMI sticks and tablets received mouth-watering discounts too. The biggest surprise though was the never-previously-discounted Kindle Oasis dropping from £229.99 to £179.99 and the Paperwhite from £109.99 to £74.99. Both offers were the lowest ever prices, showing Amazon Prime Day deals on Amazon devices is the absolute best time to buy with prices dropping lower than the best offers seen on any Black Friday. We’ve not seen any sort of discount on the Oasis since actually – talk about the deal that got away.
The Fire TV Stick went from £39.99 to £24.99 while Fire Tablets dropped significantly: the Fire 7 went from £49.99 to an incredible £29.99, the Fire HD 8 from £79.99 to £59.99, Fire HD 10 from £149.99 to £99.99 and the Fire 7 Kids from £99.99 to £59.99.
There were some cracking deals on TVs too, some of which are now even cheaper given TV deals in general are seriously competitive here in the UK. We saw 55-inch Ambilight OLED screens go from £1499 to £1199 (or just £999 today!). On the other end of the scale a 55-inch Hisense dropped to just £369, an all-time low at the time for the model, which you can now get for an even better £329.
Mobile phone deals on Amazon Prime Day don’t make too many headlines, but if you’re willing to pay the upfront cost of a phone rather than go for a contract, there were certainly deals to be had last year. The then year-old Samsung Galaxy S8 dropped to £439. The Honor View 10 was just £338.99. And the already very budget-friendly Moto G6 Play dropped to £135.99. So not the most modern or premium selection of handsets, but don’t bet against a wider range this year as more brands are keen to get involved each year
Here in the UK we saw plenty of other deals across multiple products. The biggest discounts were on coffee machines: many of them got 50% price cuts. Hive smart thermostats were 44% off, selected home security kits were 45% off and everything in the Amazon Warehouse section was 20% off. Chromebook fans got to snap up the excellent but terribly named Asus C202SA-GJ0027 for £99.99 instead of the usual £199.99.
How much money did Amazon make on Prime Day?
Amazon was predicted to gross $3.4 billion on Prime Day last year, although we don’t know if that prediction is accurate as Amazon doesn’t release such information. However, it did announce that third party sellers shifted a billion dollars of product in just one day. As for its own sales, Amazon was content to say that “sales this Prime Day surpassed Cyber Monday, Black Friday and the previous Prime Day, when comparing 36-hour periods, making this once again the biggest shopping event in Amazon history.” That’s a little sneaky, mind you: last Prime Day only ran for 24 hours, not 36.
Why did Amazon crash on Prime Day? Did the crash cost it money?
Amazon struggled to cope with traffic on Prime Day, an issue that affected not just the Amazon site but services such as Prime Video and Twitch. Customers found their shopping carts would suddenly empty, or links simply wouldn’t work, or they couldn’t access Amazon at all. The issues were largely confined to the US website and customers, although problems with Prime Video lasted well into the evening in the UK.
Some sites got their calculators out and concluded that the worst outage, which lasted for 63 minutes, cost Amazon just under $100 million in lost sales. Amazon disagrees, saying that the effect on sales was “minimal”.
CNBC has seen internal documents that describe what happened. First, it didn’t secure enough servers to cope with the demand; secondly, that shortage caused a “cascading series of failures” that knocked out key services; and thirdly, Amazon temporarily killed all international traffic to reduce the load. All of those things happened within the first 15 minutes of Prime Day.
The outage wasn’t the only issue Amazon faced on Prime Day. There were also strikes in protest at the way it treats its workers.
Why were workers striking and supporters urging Amazon boycotts on Prime Day?
Prime Day wasn’t the first time Amazon has been accused of terrible working practices, but it was a great day to get the issue into the papers. Workers in Spain and Germany went on strike over working hours and conditions while activists urged people to send Amazon a message on Prime Day by boycotting it altogether over its treatment of workers and its tax arrangements. It was also marked by a surge in health and safety complaints from UK workers.
As you’d expect, Amazon denies the allegations, with a spokesperson telling us: These allegations and the data are just not accurate — safety incidents in our fulfillment centers did not increase around Prime Day, they actually decreased from the previous week. We’re proud of our team and our workplace, and invite anyone to come see for themselves – we offer public tours of our buildings and you can learn more at amazonfctours.com.”
Amazon also told Wired that the Organise campaign behind the publicity was indulging in fake news. “To our knowledge, Organise doesn’t verify that respondents actually work for the company they claim to work for.”
What could Amazon have done better on Prime Day?
It should have anticipated and been able to cope with the load not just on its ecommerce site but on its cloud services too: we weren’t the only ones irritated because we couldn’t get our Preacher fix on Amazon Prime Video. It’s all the more embarrassing when you remember that Amazon provides the cloud infrastructure for many high-profile sites and services: Prime Day wasn’t a great ad for that side of its business.
Our main criticisms aren’t technological, though. Navigating the deals was hopeless and many of the deals were laughable, especially in gaming: we frequently found much better console bundles on AO.com’s eBay page than we did on Amazon.
Here’s a great example. On Prime Day, one of the flagship deals we identified was $50 off a set of Bose QuietComfort 25 headphones. That brought the price down from $299 to $249. Just three weeks later, Amazon US was listing the same headphones for $169.
Did other retailers try to crash Prime Day?
Yes, but not as much as we thought they would. eBay had some strong deals across multiple merchants where you could get 20% off your purchases, but UK retailers kept their powder dry whereas US retailers made more of an effort.
Retailers on both sides of the pond cut prices of Google Home devices (we saw that coming ahead of time), Amazon Echo’s closest rivals in the smart speaker space.
Will Amazon Prime Day 2019 do things differently?
Yes. CNBC reports that Jeff Wilke, Amazon’s CEO of worldwide retail, has already demanded improvements to prevent a repeat the previous Prime Day’s capacity problems: “tech teams are already working to improve our architecture”.
We’d like to think that Amazon will also improve the navigation and discoverability of its deals for Prime Day 2019, although we aren’t holding our collective breath: both factors’ general rubbishness didn’t stop Prime Day breaking all records, so there’s not much incentive for Amazon to change it unless it decides better navigation will drive significantly higher sales. But that’s why we’re here to show you the best Prime Day deals!
It’s a safe bet that Prime Day 2019 will be longer. It’s already grown from one day to one and a half; further inflation seems inevitable.
What does all this mean for Black Friday and Cyber Monday?
It’s clear that Amazon is prioritising Prime Day over Super Black Friday Deals Month or whatever convoluted name it’s going to give its Black Friday sales period in 2019: according to Digitalcommerce360.com, 67% of this year’s Prime Day deals were lower than comparable deals on the preceding Black Friday.
That’s not to say Amazon won’t take part in Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It will, and it’ll offer the same kind of discounting that we’ve seen in recent years. But Prime Day is more important to the firm, and we’d expect its discounts to be deeper, especially on its own devices.
Prime Day: why does it matter more to Amazon?
There are some crucial differences between Prime Day and Black Friday. The first is that Prime Day is Amazon’s own day. It’s right there in the name, which of course refers to Amazon’s Prime membership programme and associated services. Amazon doesn’t own Black Friday, and that means ultimately it’s just another retailer shouting for attention – a massive retailer with a really loud voice, of course, but Black Friday is a sales event for the entire retail sector. It’s much harder for rivals to muscle in on something that Amazon has effectively created from thin air.
The second and more important difference is that Black Friday doesn’t create new spending. It just moves it slightly. As we’ve discovered in recent years, the money people spend over the Black Friday period is money they were probably going to spend anyway: all Black Friday really does is concentrates pre-Christmas shopping in the last week of November.
Prime Day spending is different in two ways. First of all, people aren’t spending the money they’d already planned to spend on Christmas presents. And secondly, they’re buying mainly for themselves, not for others. If you go back to the list of bestsellers there’s an awful lot of impulse buying in there: Instant Pots and Hue Lightstrips, frying pans and dishwasher tablets. This is new spending, not merely moving pre-planned spending.
There’s another key benefit for Amazon. Its best-sellers on Prime Day weren’t just Amazon devices; they were Amazon devices that connect to Amazon services. Fire TVs, Kindle Fires, Echo devices, Alexa remotes. Each one of them connecting to Amazon Prime, and each one of them requiring a Prime membership to buy in the first place. So when Black Friday rolls around, Amazon will have a whole bunch of Prime members for whom shopping on Prime is the default, and who might want to enhance their Amazon-powered smart homes with Amazon-branded Black Friday deals.
Prime Day means that for Amazon, Christmas now comes twice a year.