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Wal-Mart’s Prime Day counterpunch boosts its online orders and store footfall

July 16, 2015 04:36 PM
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As Amazon.com Inc. touted record-breaking sales numbers in the wake of its first Prime Day event, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which ran a sales promotion of its own, says it didn’t do so badly either.

“The last three days have been among some of our biggest days ever for online orders,” a Wal-Mart spokesman tells Internet Retailer, though he declined to provide sales or growth figures

Amazon, No. 1 the Internet Retailer 2015 Top 500 Guide, says its sales on Wednesday increased 266% compared with the same day a year ago, as it celebrate its 20th anniversary with a heavily promoted Prime Day flash sale for customers of its Amazon Prime loyalty program.

Amazon on July 6 announced it would hold Prime Day, and Wal-Mart, No. 3 in the 2015 Top 500, soon after countered with an announcement of a 3-day online sale to start two days before Amazon’s event. Walmart.com during the event offered deep discounts and lowered its free shipping threshold to $35, the same as Amazon’s, from $50.

A Wal-Mart spokesman says the Walmart.com promotion drove more foot traffic to its stores, as many consumers chose to pick up online orders rather than have them delivered to their homes. “Wednesday was the highest day of the year for same-day pickup in Wal-Mart stores, with orders increasing triple digits over the same day last year,” he says.

Neither Wal-Mart nor Amazon is releasing sales figures, saying only that sales rose dramatically Wednesday.

In one respect it appears Amazon had an advantage over Walmart.com: site load time. Data from website monitoring firm Catchpoint Systems shows that Wal-Mart’s site took 7.68 seconds, on average, to load on a desktop Wednesday, more than twice the 3.18 seconds it took Amazon’s site to load. That's slightly slower than Wal-Mart's average webpage load time of 7.20 seconds. The chasm between the two sites narrowed on mobile devices, where Wal-Mart’s site took 1.67 seconds to load versus 1.51 seconds for Amazon. 

"Not only is Wal-Mart always slower than Amazon, but they didn’t take the necessary steps to reduce their page size prior to the sale," says Drit Suljoti, co-founder of Catchpoint Systems. "Additionally, most of their failures appear to be the result of long server response times, indicating that they were unprepared for the level of traffic surges that they ended up getting."

Wal-Mart did not return an e-mail seeking comment on its page load times.

 

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