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Demand for Amazon Prime Day deals leads to checkout issues for shoppers

TechCrunch TechCrunch 12/07/2016 Sarah Perez

Amazon Prime Day has arrived – the sales holiday the internet lovingly dubbed last year as Amazon’s online garage sale, in reference to consumers’ disappointment with the deals’ quality. The company still broke sales records, despite complaints. This time around, Amazon is aiming to best last year’s deals with a good handful of price drops on Amazon devices, including Echo speakers, Fire tablets, Fire TV, Kindles, Dash buttons, and more, along with Black Friday-like discounts on other electronics, like HDTVs, smartphones, speakers, headphones, wearables, and more.

Aimed at growing the number of subscribers to its Prime Membership program, Prime Day deals are only available to Prime customers. However, Amazon offers a 30-day free trial which can help non-members shop the deals before having to pony up for the annual $99 membership.

Amazon did well with Prime Day 2015 on a sales front – and some analysts expect the retailer to double last year’s sales, hitting close to a billion on Prime Day 2016.

But Amazon still has a lot to prove in terms of consumer sentiment. Last year, the best deals sold out too quickly, while consumers were stuck with deals on household goods and other odds and ends. It remains to be seen how well Prime Day will perform this year.

Demand for the new deals, however, appears to be strong – or at least, that’s likely what’s been causing this morning’s glitches.

Prime Day got off to a rocky start, as many shoppers began experiencing trouble at checkout and in adding items to their cart. Amazon tweeted that it’s “working to resolve this issue quickly,” but the headaches could impact Prime Day’s bottom line if not resolved.

The issue has led to some customers missing the deals they wanted, given that many of the discounts offered on the site are time-sensitive.

Hopefully, Amazon will fix the problem quickly, because there are actually quite a few great deals to be found this year.

For example, Amazon’s own products have gotten big price cuts:

There are also deals on Xbox One, Lenovo laptops and desktops, iRobot vacuums, Bose headphones, TV deals from Samsung, Roku and moreMotorola smartphones, Pebble Steel smartwatches and other wearables from Microsoft, Garmin, Withings and others, and many more. (USA Today has a good roundup here, while Amazon notes some of the best deals here.)

Amazon notes also that customers will find twice as many Prime Day deals this year. In addition to the bigger deals, over 30 percent of the Lightning Deals come from Amazon sellers and small businesses. In total, shoppers worldwide have access to over 100,000 deals.

If Amazon’s checkout issues continue, however, consumers could end up on competitors’ sites. This year, Walmart stepped up its game against Prime Day, offering a week of free shipping with no minimum purchase. Other retailers, including Gap, J.C. Penney, NewEgg, and Toys R Us are also having rival sales.

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