Amazon's likely multimillion-dollar disaster on Prime Day proved it is not immune from embarrassment

AmazonAP/Mark Lennihan

  • Amazon is growing to be the most powerful force in retail, and it showed that strength often in 2018.
  • But with great power comes great expectations, and Amazon failed to meet those on its invented holiday, Prime Day, this year.
  • The site went down for over an hour on Prime Day, which was likely the biggest self-own of any retailer this year.

It can be said that Amazon had a subprime Prime Day this year.

Though the company seemed unstoppable in 2018, raking in record profits and growing its share of the online-shopping industry, it hit a huge snag in July.

The snag was of its own making. The retailer's website crashed at the same time its Prime Day deals were scheduled to begin in the United States, on Monday, July 16, at 3 p.m. ET. The site responded with a 404 error.

This issue lasted for hours.

"Some customers are having difficulty shopping, and we're working to resolve this issue quickly," Amazon said in a statement at 4:59 p.m. ET.

It understandably frustrated customers, some of whom said they would cancel their Prime accounts in protest.

Read more: This year's Prime Day struggles show that not even Amazon can keep up with the monster it created

One Click Retail estimated that Amazon sells about $1 million a minute during peak time on Prime Day, based on 2017 data. The issues this year could easily have meant millions in lost sales, One Click Retail's founder, Spencer Millerberg, told Business Insider at the Digital Food and Beverage Conference in Chicago.

CNBC reported that demand was much larger than Amazon had been expecting on the day, and that contributed to the outage and subsequent website issues.

Still, Amazon said the event was its largest single event in terms of sales.

"The first ten hours Prime Day grew even faster, year-over-year, than the first ten hours last year," Amazon said in a press release early on in the 36-hour event.

Amazon said in November that this year's Cyber Monday was once again its single biggest shopping day in history.

Still, the Prime Day mistake was a serious black eye for a company that runs one of the world's largest cloud computing and storage services, making it the most embarrassing moment for a retailer this year.

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