Amazon saw its biggest holiday shopping season yet, as the draw of its Prime membership program seemed to kick into overdrive, with consumers around the world buying at record levels, the nation’s largest online retailer said.
Over the course of one week, more than four million people either started free Prime trials, or purchased a membership outright, wooed by benefits such as free two-day, one-day or same-day shipping, as well as one-hour and two-hour delivery perks.
The retailer’s holiday findings hint at what is poised to propel retail sales next year and beyond — from merchandise purchased via voice commerce to furniture shopping aided by the magic of augmented reality.
Alexa-enabled Amazon devices such as the Echo Dot and Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote were not only top selling Amazon items, but also the best-selling products from any manufacturer in any product category and brand sold on the site, according to the e-tailer.
Amazon additionally scored a hit with its Echo voice-assistant devices, as the Echo Spot, Echo Dot and Echo Buttons sold out. At the same time, the Echo Dot, Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote and TP-Link Smart Plug Mini ranked as the most popular items purchased by voice.
Amid a $2.3 trillion global ecommerce market, Amazon shipped more than one million customer packages in a single day in North America and Europe alone, with 19 December 2017 marking the mega load for picking, packing and shipping at its 10 fulfillment centers.
To meet that demand, the retailer increased the size of its fulfillment and shipping network by more than 30% worldwide this year.
Just as holiday 2017 is poised to go down in the retail record books as a tipping point for mobile shopping, consumer purchases on Amazon’s app soared nearly 70% this season, the retailer said.
To take that out of the abstract, more than 1,400 electronics products were ordered per second on the site via a mobile device this holiday.
“The mobile phone is the new mall, and how a brand looks on a smartphone replaces the physical store window,” according to Oliver Chen, retail analyst with Cowen, in a research note.
Meanwhile, Amazon shoppers can now see how a sofa would look in their own living room via its AR View feature.
Shoppers are beginning to give AR more attention on the site, particularly when viewing function-driven, feature rich, high-consideration purchase, such as furniture. Top categories viewed via AR included furniture, toys, Amazon devices, kitchen items and consumer electronics, with the retailer’s black chair with ottoman getting the most views.
In its Future 100 report, J. Walter Thompson’s Innovation Group files this trend under the “transcendent retail” category, as shopping is “ leaping on the screen and morphing into a more immersive experience,” said Lucie Greene, Director of JWT Innovation, in a press statement on the report.
Voice technology, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence are transforming the retail industry “to make buying products quicker, easier and more enjoyable.”