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Amazon says ‘Prime Day’ isn’t a flop

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Amazon.com's Prime Day sale has been called “lame” by customers in numerous tweets, with several saying the only useful thing they bought was Tupperware. (Amazon.com)

Despite last-minute competition from Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Amazon.com says its Prime Day sale has been more successful than its Black Friday counterpart.

Orders for Wednesday’s one-day sale have already surpassed those from Black Friday last November, the company said in a statement. In 15 minutes, Prime members scooped up 35,000 “Lord of the Rings” Blu-Ray sets, 28,000 Rubbermaid sets and tens of thousands of Fire TV sticks. The 1,200 TVs priced at $999 sold out in less than 10 minutes.

The sale, which celebrates Amazon’s 20th anniversary, is available only to Prime members, who pay a $99 annual fee for free two-day shipping and access to entertainment including TV shows. Amazon declined to say how many new Prime members it signed up.

But the sale has been called “lame” by customers in numerous tweets, with several saying the only useful thing they bought was Tupperware.

On Monday, Wal-Mart announced its own rival one-day sale on Wednesday. It will include more than 2,000 online-only discounts. For at least 30 days, the retailer said, it also is reducing the minimum order to qualify for free shipping to $35 from $50.

Analysts said the heavy promotions reflect increasing competition for shoppers who are still reluctant to spend despite an economy on the upswing.

“Both companies are likely to grab share from retailers that don’t participate in heightened promotional activity,” according to a report from Bloomberg Intelligence. “Deals may drive shoppers to buy school and college merchandise early, leaving fewer dollars to spend elsewhere.”

With Prime Day, Amazon is betting heavily that it can recruit new customers to its Prime program, analysts said. The Seattle company is pushing a 30-day free trial of the service, which could turn into paying members.

“It’s impossible to miss the push they’ve made recently to expand the reach of their Prime membership, with television ads across multiple regions promoting their mid-year sale,” said John Pincott of Shopatron.

Wal-Mart also is feeling the pressure to win more online shoppers.

The company said in May that it would test a three-day shipping service priced at $50 a year, similar to Prime.

Online shopping is an increasingly critical part of retailers’ business plans. In a report Wednesday from market research firm Forrester, online-only retailers like Amazonfar outstripped traditional brick and mortar rivals in customer experience. And customer experience, according to the report, leads to revenue growth.

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