2020 Amazon Prime Day Eclipses Previous Years, Despite Its Pandemic Pivot | Ideoclick

2020 Amazon Prime Day Eclipses Previous Years, Despite Its Pandemic Pivot | Ideoclick

Consistent with everything 2020, Amazon Prime Day experienced its own unprecedented “first.” The sixth annual event was moved from July to October, but the pivot represented much more than a calendar shuffle. Many brands were forced to rework their strategies due to Prime Day’s close proximity to the holiday season.

Their efforts were well rewarded. Despite the three-month delay and subsequent challenges of being T5-adjacent (Black Friday-to-Cyber Monday span of days, or “Turkey 5”), 2020 Prime Day was once again one of the biggest events in Amazon’s history.

Overall, Prime Day hit impressive benchmarks:

  • U.S. eCommerce sales grew 43% YoY to $6 billion
  • Third-party (3P) sellers outpaced first-party (1P) growth with a 60% YoY increase in sales to $3.5 billion
  • Sales for Ideoclick clients grew by 63%, compared to Prime Day 2019
  • Over one million deals were executed globally, providing $1.4 billion in savings to consumers

eCommerce Shopping Behavior Reveals Key Insights

Savvy brands know Prime Day isn’t just about an influx of revenue. Just as valuable are the quantifiable trends post-Prime Day data reveals—which informs future marketing efforts. Looking at consumer behavior, the biggest takeaway is a consciousness around cost. This is particularly enlightening as brands look ahead to T5 and beyond.

For example, over one-third of consumers (36%) stated they will be more price sensitive this holiday season in comparison to 2019. This attitude was reflected in the average Prime Day order size, which suffered a 25% reduction from 2019’s numbers ($44.21 compared to $59.02).

The good news is that 35% of consumers stated they plan to do most or all of their holiday shopping online this year, a 10% spike over last year. And, Amazon loyalty is encouraging for the upcoming holiday season—evidenced by a few key data points:

  • 72% of shoppers did not compare prices to other retailers’ promoted events (Target, Walmart) before making a Prime Day purchase
  • 56% of U.S. consumers stated they intended to make a Prime Day purchase
  • 51% of consumers view Prime Day as the kickoff to the holiday season

The Pandemic’s Unique Influence

One of the most significant insights gleaned from 2020 Prime Day was buying behavior specific to the pandemic. Unlike previous years, this year’s shopping behavior heavily aligned with increased time at home. Items for e-learning, remote working, clothing, and at-home entertainment won the day(s). Specifically, the Clothing, Shoes & Jewelry category sales saw the largest YoY growth (27%), closely followed by the Grocery & Gourmet Food category at 23%.

Top keywords also substantiated this phenomenon, with items like mask bracket, thermometer, and AirPods, each coming in at number two among search words. Headphones, earbuds, and laptop rounded out the electronics search words—a clear indicator people are investing in their work-from-home situation. Top-selling products in the U.S. like iRobot® Roomba vacuums and LifeStraw® water filters further support consumers’ at-home existence.

Strategies for Sustained Amazon Growth 

With the significant influence 2020 Prime Day had on holiday shopping, it begs a key question: Could this be a turning point in Amazon’s future Prime Day strategies? Larger brands have continued to run deals to drive sustained growth throughout Q4, and consumers are welcoming them. Data reports that 81% of consumers plan to shop on Amazon for holiday purchases compared to Walmart (51%) and Target (29%).

Amazon is leveraging these trends with the launch of its Holiday Dash event, featuring “Black Friday Worthy Deals” that change daily.

Advertising’s Impact on Varying eCommerce Categories

Another key consideration as brands ramp up for the holiday season is the impact of Prime Day advertising. Increased discoverability and market share during the two-day event was critical to a strong start to holiday shopping. This was reflected in the amplified advertising spend across categories, which drove greater competition among brands than in previous years.

Brands who were proactive with their budgets—expanding them to focus on Prime Day traffic—witnessed varying return on ad spend (RoAS), based on category. For example, Home & Kitchen RoAS declined by 47% YoY while Electronics increased by 58%. Beauty & Personal Care also grew (26%). Grocery & Gourmet Food remained consistent from 2019.

Specific to mobile advertising, the “Recommended Deals for You” widget on the shopping app further benefited brands that ran ads prior to Prime Day. The ads triggered inclusion in shoppers’ dynamic widgets based on their previous engagement with ASINs.

What’s Next for Amazon Shopping Behavior?

These numbers speak volumes, but it’s really the insights gained from the data that brands need to keep top of mind. A consistent thread throughout is that consumers were and are concerned about three primary components: price sensitivity, availability of deals, and delivery costs. That buying behavior should serve as a foundation for marketing strategies in the remainder of Q4—and even into 2021.

If you’d like some guidance surrounding holiday season planning for Amazon optimization, we can help.


Jamaal Hackett-Cook is a Sr. eCommerce Strategist at Ideoclick, where he drives the creation of innovative strategies for brands to own more of the digital shelf. A 5 year former employee of Amazon, he worked on the launch of Amazon Home Services, innovations to the Vendor Contact Support Process, and has partnered with dozens of brands to improve their marketing and supply chain strategies.