• Amazon made an estimated $4.2 billion in sales during last week’s Prime Day, surpassing last year’s numbers. The company won’t unveil its revenue, but said it sold 100 million products over the 36-hour event—home goods won out as the highest-selling vertical, followed by electronics, sports and outdoor equipment, home improvement and beauty. Amazon welcomed more new Prime members on July 16 than any other day in its history and its vendors experienced a 28% spike in sales during the first 30 hours of this year’s Prime Day compared to 2017. While Walmart, Macy’s, Best Buy and Nordstrom held their own simultaneous online sales, Target’s one-day event made the most strides, attracting the highest digital traffic and sales for the company this year.
  • Amazon plans to expand its advertising business, allowing clients to display ads outside of Amazon properties, which would direct traffic back to Amazon’s site. Right now, Sponsored Products—ads based on popular search keywords—account for 88% of Amazon’s advertising revenue, followed by Headline Search—ads that appear at the top of a search result. Amazon’s ad revenue has grown 132% year over year and now accounts for $2 billion as it continues to bypass ad agencies and work directly with brands. Most recently, Prime Day led some vendors on Amazon to double or even triple their ad spend.
  • Whole Foods is expanding its one- or two-hour delivery service through Prime Now. Customers in portions of Long Island, New York City and Florida can utilize the service, in addition to those living in the 24 other cities that already have access. This bolsters Amazon’s ability to control more aspects of the Whole Foods experience as it slowly encroaches on Instacart’s territory. Since August 2017, Instacart has handled one- and two-hour deliveries for Whole Foods, but its service is only offered within a certain perimeter of the grocery stores. It also costs a minimum $5.99 for orders of at least $35, plus a 5% service fee whereas Prime Now is free for Prime members (though one-hour delivery costs $7.99 for orders of at least $35).
  • Counterfeit brands are hurting smaller vendors on Amazon. These fraudulent brands, which mimic the packaging of legitimate companies or sell what appear to be the same products for much lower prices, purloin sales from bona fide companies and can also erode their brand equity. Though Amazon allegedly examines each vendor complaint and has taken legal action against some duplicitous brands, the company has yet to take on a more rigorous and preventative strategy to quell fraud despite the fact that third-party sales account for more than half of the platform’s total retail sales.
  • Best Buy now has 380 “in-home advisors” to differentiate itself from Amazon. The advisors, who visit customers’ homes gratis for 90-minute appointments, can do anything from teaching clients how to ask Alexa questions to repairing a TV—central to the in-home service is building relationships with customers rather than closing new deals. While Best Buy’s performance improved last year—it saw its comparable sales rise 5.6% in 2017 and witnessed its biggest holiday season since 2003—it is still following in the footsteps of Amazon, which launched its own smart home installation and consultation service last year.
  • Walmart plans to establish an ad-supported subscription streaming service to compete with Netflix and Prime Video. The venture, which will cost $8 a month and operate through Vudu—a media service and device company that Walmart acquired in 2010—will include both original and licensed content.