Amazon held its fourth annual Prime Day earlier this month. It again lasted more than a day – 36 hours to be exact – and took in new countries as the e-commerce titan sought to offer members to its Prime service a multitude of deals. Andrew Pearl, director of strategy and insight in the EMEA region for e-commerce analytics firm Profitero, surveys some of the ways grocery featured.

Despite the technical glitches, Amazon’s fourth annual Prime Day was touted as bigger and broader than ever before. Packing 36 hours (up from 30 last year) and millions of promotions into the event, not only did Amazon kick off the Prime Day hype nearly two weeks in advance, but it expanded into new geographies as well. Australia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Singapore joined the Prime Day festivities for the first time this year.

This was also the first year Prime Day moved offline. Given Amazon’s growing physical presence, the company made Prime Day 2018 truly an omni-channel event by bringing US grocer Whole Foods Market into the fold.

Not only did Amazon extend some of its hottest deals into the bricks-and-mortar space, it created entirely new ones, along with significant buzz. The whole idea: extend the value of Prime Membership to the physical store setting, as well as entice Whole Foods shoppers to join Prime.

Prime members who spent US$10 at Whole Foods starting 11 July through the end of Prime Day (which ran from midday on 16 July and until midnight on 17 July) received a $10 Amazon credit to use on Prime Day. Across the Atlantic, Prime members could also save on natural and organic products in all Whole Foods stores in London.

Building Amazon’s share of online grocery spend through its Pantry format was another key focus for the business this Prime Day, with shoppers of categories outside grocery being offered free delivery on their next Prime Pantry order. Main incentives to shop for groceries on Prime Day included 30% off the first “subscribe & save” order and free shipping on the next Amazon Pantry order.

Equally, some grocery items were free. Such was the case with General Mills’ Honey Nut Cheerios. US Prime members could snap up a family-size box on 17 July absolutely free of charge. For Amazon, this level of promotion is designed to drive Pantry adoption, while grocery brands likely view the giveaway as an opportunity for product trial with the hopes of creating repeat purchasers.

Cheers to small brands

We know small and emerging brands can (and frequently do) outperform much bigger brands on Amazon and Prime Day is a chance for small brands to really shine.

As an example, in the UK, we saw a lesser known Rhubarb and Ginger Liqueur from Edinburgh Gin rise to number two in the “grocery best seller” ranks on Amazon’s local website, ahead of much larger mainstream brands. The liqueur brand stayed in the second position for the whole of Prime Day.

Private label push

As anticipated, Amazon positioned its own brands to win on Prime Day. While there were great deals to be had on the usual suspects – i.e., Amazon devices like Amazon Echo – the retailer took advantage of the extra traffic being driven to its site to cross-merchandise and promote its broader brand portfolio.

Site-wide, we found even when a promotion was for a national consumer packaged goods brand, banner ads for Amazon private-label goods typically took front and centre. Across promoted baby products there were banner ads for Amazon Basics and Amazon Home Services. In beauty, ads for Amazon’s own labels Solimo, Amazon Essentials basic apparel and Presto household goods were prominently placed.

Our analysis also found WAG dog food rocketing up the bestseller ranks following a 30% discount on all 5 lb. bags an ingenious way to generate product trial. By 2pm EDT on Tuesday, Amazon owned the “Amazon’s Choice” badge for “Dog Food.”

This category example is testimony to just how serious Amazon is about one, launching and growing its private brands, but also, two, increasingly penetrating some of the highest velocity, highest penetration categories in the consumables space.

However, despite all the promotions and hype, not all deals were quite what they seemed as in this Aberfeld whisky example, where a great looking deal on Amazon was still beaten by one of the big supermarkets.

Proof that you still need to shop around for the best deals, even on Prime Day.