When Amazon announced some of the deals that would be offered starting at midnight Wednesday—from $75 TVs to half-off cameras—Amazon Prime members set their alarms for the price savings.
And while many online shoppers, including those opting to check out Wal-Mart's competing promotion, encountered slow load times, Amazon posted peak order rates that already surpassed last year's Black Friday.
But just because shoppers came in waves bigger than Black Friday that didn't mean they all thought the day's deals lived up to the Black Friday-busting hype.
Even bargains on high-profile items like Amazon's Fire TV Stick lasted only a couple of hours before the savings were fully claimed. The waitlist for the TV streaming device filled minutes later, leading some frustrated customers to wonder if they were intentionally misled.
Amazon insisted it was part of a plan to "stagger the deals to make sure the fun will last through tonight," according to a spokeswoman. With new deals starting as often as every 10 minutes, she urged Prime customers to stay tuned for more—and stay tuned they did. By the afternoon shoppers had bought up 28,000 Rubbermaid sets, 35,000 Lord of the Rings Blu-Ray sets, and battled over a Kate Spade purse deal that was gone in less than a minute.
But when traffic from shoppers flooding both Wal-Mart and Amazon surged, some added slow load times to their growing list of complaints.
Data from Internet performance firm Catchpoint Systems revealed Wal-Mart suffered greater interruptions with more widespread outages and slower reported performance than its online competitor. Perhaps due to its prepared efforts right before midnight, Amazon only briefly saw its load times nearly double before its issues were resolved in the afternoon.
But even with those slow load times the fact customers are flocking to the site bodes well for Amazon according to Morningstar senior analyst R.J. Hottovy.
"You're going to hear some complaints about it, but people still carry on in this treasure hunt," he said. "The limited supply of these deals has some people going and even buying items later at full price."