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Amazon’s Prime Day runs into early snags

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NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon’s website ran into some early snags Monday on its much-hyped Prime Day, an embarrassment for the tech company on the shopping holiday it created.

Shoppers clicking on many Prime Day links after the 3 p.m. ET launch in the U.S. got only images of dogs — some quite abashed-looking — with the words, “Uh-oh. Something went wrong on our end.” Many took to social media to complain that they couldn’t order items.

Amazon didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, but by about 4:30 p.m., many Prime Day links were working.

The hiccups could mute sales and send shoppers elsewhere on one of Amazon’s busiest sales days. Analyst Sucharita Mulpuru-Kodali at Forrester Research called it a “huge deal.”

“This is supposed to be one of their biggest days of the year,” she wrote in an email. “I am shocked this caught them off guard. But I guess the lesson is to not have a big unveil during the middle of the day when everyone comes to your site all at once.”

She believes that Amazon will prolong the deals to keep customers happy. Shoppers have lots of options, as many other chains have offered sales and promotions to try to capitalize on the Prime Day spending.

Amazon, which recently announced that Prime membership would be getting more expensive, was hoping to lure in shoppers by focusing on new products and having Whole Foods be part of the process.

While Amazon doesn’t disclose sales figures for Prime Day, Deborah Weinswig, CEO of Coresight Research, had estimated that it will generate $3.4 billion in sales worldwide, up from an estimated $2.4 billion last year. Prime Day also lasts six hours longer than last year.

Meanwhile, other retailers like Macy’s, Nordstrom, Best Buy, Walmart and Target have rolled out their own promotions, said Charlie O’Shea, lead retail analyst at Moody’s.

“Brick-and-mortar retailers know that they have little choice but to continue offering their own deep discounts, which is evident in the proliferation of ‘Black Friday in July’ deals that are being launched earlier each year, as well as various ‘price match’ offers,” he said in a note Monday.

Amazon created Prime Day in 2015 to mark its 20th anniversary, and its success has inspired other e-commerce companies to invent shopping holidays. Online furniture seller Wayfair introduced Way Day in April, becoming its biggest revenue day ever.

Prime Day also usually helps boost the number of Prime memberships. Amazon disclosed for the first time this year that it had more than 100 million paid Prime members worldwide. It’s hoping to keep Prime attractive for current and would-be subscribers after raising the U.S. annual membership fee by 20 percent to $119 and to $12.99 for the month-to-month option.

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