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Amazon’s first-ever fall Prime Day brings new challenges in the midst of a tumultuous year

Amazon’s first-ever fall Prime Day brings new challenges in the midst of a tumultuous year

Amazon and its army of logistics workers are bracing for the first-ever fall Prime Day starting Tuesday, as the extraordinary circumstances of 2020 bring new challenges for a shopping event that has become key for Amazon’s e-commerce business.



a truck on a city street: An Amazon Prime truck in downtown Seattle near Amazon HQ. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)


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An Amazon Prime truck in downtown Seattle near Amazon HQ. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

The pandemic created unprecedented change and disruption for Amazon. The company has seen its sales surge, and it has rapidly added staff and infrastructure to keep up. Typically, Amazon holds the contrived shopping holiday in July to boost sales during the slow season, but this year, the company pushed Prime Day to the fall when it was struggling to keep up with a deluge of orders from customers sheltering at home.

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Prime Day offers sales on hundreds of items for members of Amazon’s Prime subscription service. It began in 2015 and has become a reliable revenue boost for the company.

But the shift to October presents new challenges, coming just weeks before the holiday shopping season, amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis and a period of acute environmental concerns. Meanwhile, the company’s treatment of its third-party sellers is under a microscope following the release of a House subcommittee’s antitrust report last week.

Amazon’s plan to forge ahead with Prime Day despite those complications reveals how essential the six-year-old shopping holiday has become to the company.

An extra long holiday

The decision to hold Prime Day Oct. 13-14 effectively adds an extra month to Amazon’s peak season, the holiday rush that starts with Black Friday in ordinary years. It’s a major effort for Amazon’s logistics and delivery team. Amazon staffs up warehouses with seasonal workers and requires employees to work overtime to keep up with demand.

This spring, Amazon was caught unprepared by

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