SAN FRANCISCO — Amazon launched its fourth annual Prime Day sale at noon west coast time on Monday. The site instantly crashed.
It was still possible to search for regular items, and to click through on Amazon-branded electronics such as the Echo Dot, which was featured on the main Amazon.com page.
However purchasing was not possible in the first hour of the sale. Users could also access their online shopping cart, but when they attempted to actually purchase something they got a note saying, “Sorry, we’re experiencing unusually heavy traffic. Please try again in a few seconds. Your items are still waiting in your cart.”
The much-vaunted Amazon deals were also not immediately available. When users attempted to click on the “Shop Deals by Interest” portion of the main page, the website only allowed users to click through to a page that said “Shop All Deals,” which then took them back to the home page.
On smart phones things were no better. The Amazon app returned a photo of a contrite-looking dog and the words, “Uh-Oh. Something went wrong on our end.” The photo of the dog switched each time users tried to log in, so that they got an image of a new, though still remorseful, dog.
Last year’s Prime Day sale was estimated to have generate about $2.4 billion in sales last year, and this year’s 36-hour sale was predicted to reach $3.4 billion, according to analysis by Coresight Research.
Amazon was determined to make sure Americans knew it was Prime Day and the effort seemed to have paid off with a flood of visitors who appeared to have overwhelmed the company’s systems.
The company spent $3.1 million on its Prime Day awareness ad on television this year, an analysis by Market Track, a Chicago-based ad and pricing analysis firm, found.
The ads didn’t tout specific sale items but instead simply told consumers that the event would take place. For comparison, Amazon spent $4.2 million on its primary Black Friday ad in 2017 and $1.2 million on its primary Cyber Monday ad.
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