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Amazon accounts for nearly 40% of holiday weekend web sales in the US

November 29, 2016 04:51 PM
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Retail industry insiders this year have been referring to the five-day sales period between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday as the Turkey Five. But Amazon.com Inc.’s use of the term could mean something else altogether, as Internet Retailer estimates consumers spent nearly $5 billion with the largest e-retailer in the United States over the five-day sales period.

Amazon hasn’t released sales figures for the holiday weekend, and isn’t likely to, but Internet Retailer conservatively estimates transactions on Amazon accounted for 37% of online sales in the United States measured from Nov. 24-28. Using Adobe Digital Insights’ $12.81 billion online sales estimate for the period, Internet Retailer estimates $4.74 billion took place on Amazon. This includes goods sold by Amazon directly and by merchants selling through Amazon’s marketplace. Marketplace sellers pay Amazon a commission ranging from 8% to 25% (depending on the product category) of the sale price on each item they sell through the site.

Already the go-to e-retailer for many—43% of shoppers say they will make more than half of their holiday purchases on Amazon, according to the results of an Astound Commerce study released this week—Amazon and its marketplace sellers’ cadence of deals, selection and discounts drew shoppers and got them talking. Amazon, No.1 in the Internet Retailer 2016 Top 500 Guide, added new deals about every five minutes.

Analytics firm Clavis Insight measured the number of featured products offered on leading e-retail sites over the holiday weekend and calculated the average discount. It showed that Amazon had more products on sale than any other retailer and it offered those items at steeper discounts when the clock ticked from Thanksgiving into Friday.

The average discount offered on Amazon on Thanksgiving was 32%, and Clavis says 7,486 items were featured. On Friday, the discount jumped to 44% across nearly 10,000 products, a sale selection about five times greater than any other retailer in the study. The other e-retailers Clavis Insight tracked were Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Best Buy Co. Inc. and Target Corp. The average discount and number of products Walmart.com offered at a discount held steady Thursday and Friday, with just less than 2,000 products offered at a 33% discount. Data on product selection and offers indicates Wal-Mart is competing with Amazon more competitively this holiday season. Read the Walmart.com analysis here.

The Thursday/Friday average discount for Best Buy was 29%/36%. For Target the Thursday/Friday average discount was 22%/35%. Walmart.com is No. 4 in the Top 500, Best Buy is No. 12 and Target is No. 22.

“In the game against Amazon, better prices and special discounts are some of the best ways for retailers to drive consumers away from Amazon and toward their site,” says Lauren Freedman, senior vice president of digital strategy and chief merchant at Astound Commerce. Email receipt data from Slice Intelligence says Amazon accounted for 32.5% of web orders in the week leading up to Thanksgiving.

Amazon’s overall value proposition, however, convinced a greater percentage of customers who are members of Amazon Prime to stay out of stores on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. A survey fielded Saturday by research firm InfoScout among 2,000 members of Prime, the $99 annual membership program that gets consumers access to fast shipping options, streaming video and music and other benefits, found that 41% of Prime members said they did not shop in a store on Friday, up from 35% a year ago.

Amazon does not say how many Prime members is has, but estimates of its U.S. membership range from 50 million to 65 million. It appears, however, that Amazon is feeling some strain on fulfillment. Some orders placed by Prime members selecting the two-day free shipping option on Cyber Monday for items listed as “in stock” found that Amazon is estimating delivery for Friday, Dec. 2. Amazon did not reply to a request for comment on why.

The flurry of deals offered by retailers bled into sentiment consumers expressed on the web during the period. On Nov. 28 (Cyber Monday), Amazon was the retail brand most often associated with the day “by a mile,” according to marketing technology firm Amobee, which tracked consumer engagement and sentiment about the sale day across 60,000 websites, including social media. It says 45% of consumer engagement around Cyber Monday included a mention of Amazon. 36% mentioned Target and 35% mentioned Wal-Mart. 

As of press time, Amazon had provided few details about its Turkey Five performance other than to say sales on key sales days—namely Friday and Monday—were greater than the comparable days last year, and orders placed on mobile devices exceeded last year’s levels. It says the best-selling product for the weekend is the Amazon Echo Dot, a $49.99 voice-activated digital assistant device, which Amazon sold for $39.99 on the days following Thanksgiving and on Monday. Among the features of Echo Dot is the ability for consumers to voice order products on Amazon.

 

 

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