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Amazon Bounced Back from Chaotic Site Failure with $4.2 Billion Prime Day Haul

Amazon’s Prime Day numbers are still trickling in as industry watchers scrutinize the aftermath of a “Christmas in July” shopping holiday that’s materialized out of nowhere over the past four years.

Though Amazon remains tight-lipped on the dollars and cents surrounding the spending event that grew to 36 deal-filled hours this year, Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter crunched the numbers himself and estimates that Amazon raked in $4.2 billion on Prime Day, considerably above the $3.4 billion haul forecast by Coresight Research and 33 percent higher than 2017’s achievement, Bloomberg first reported. To arrive at that total, Pachter factored in the 100 million-plus products sold as well as the $1 billion in sales from small and mid-sized businesses active on the Amazon marketplace.

Amazon’s private labels fared particularly well on Prime Day, so much so that a Goodthreads men’s button-down shirt amassed such strong sales during the event that it has now replaced well-known national brands like Calvin Klein and IZOD as the best-selling men’s shirt across the entire site, according to GQ.

Meanwhile, Amazon may have underestimated demand for the sale that began Monday afternoon, which led to the website crashes and outages that sent customers griping on social media. CNBC reported that the Seattle-based firm—which also provides web services to scores of businesses—didn’t activate sufficient server capacity to handle the throngs of shoppers flocking to the website and at one point manually brought up to 150 new virtual servers online.

An internal autoscaling feature that should have automatically detected increases in traffic and added capacity accordingly also failed, CNBC said, based on a review of internal Amazon documents. To stem the bleeding, Amazon briefly stopped all international traffic, though the site continued generating error messages. As the day wore on, order rates topped periodically expectations by a “factor of two,” according to CNBC.

University of Southern California computer science professor Carl Kesselman described the Prime Day hiccup to CNBC as “rather impressive” simply because the website held up instead of buckling completely.

“Amazon is operating at a scale we haven’t operated before,” Kesselman said to CNBC. “It’s not clear there’s a bad guy or an obvious screw up—it’s just we’re in uncharted territory and it’s amazing it didn’t just fall over.”

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