Amazon.com failed to secure enough servers to handle the surge in traffic on Prime Day, causing it to launch a scaled-down backup front page and temporarily kill off all international traffic, according to internal Amazon documents obtained by CNBC. As we reported, Amazon suffered glitches at the start of Prime Day on July 16, slowing sales on the e-tailer's biggest shopping day of the year. Consumers reported several errors on both Amazon's desktop site and mobile app.
The CNBC report pointed out, per Amazon's internal memo, that the e-commerce giant also had to add servers manually to meet the traffic demand, indicating its auto-scaling feature may have failed to work properly leading up to the crash. "Currently out of capacity for scaling,” one of the updates said about the status of Amazon’s servers, roughly an hour after Prime Day’s launch. “Looking at scavenging hardware." A breakdown in an internal system called Sable, which Amazon uses to provide computation and storage services to its business, caused the series of glitches across other services that depend on it, including Prime, authentication and video playback, the documents show. Other teams, including Alexa, Prime Now and Twitch, also reported problems, while some warehouses said they weren’t even able to scan products or pack orders for a period of time. Amazon hasn’t said much publicly about the outage. It issued a single statement two hours after the site crash, succinctly saying “some customers are having difficulty shopping” and that it was working to “resolve the issue quickly.”
Total Retail's Take: The documents give a rare look into how Amazon responded to the higher-than-expected traffic surge on Prime Day, which caused glitches across its site for hours. It also illustrates the difficulty Amazon faced in dealing with the demand, despite its deep experience running a massive-scale website and one of the largest cloud computing platforms in the world. But despite the schadenfreude you may be experiencing, Amazon said that although the outage lasted for hours on Prime Day, the impact on overall sales was minimal. According to a press release from Amazon, 2018's Prime Day "surpassed Cyber Monday, Black Friday and the previous Prime Day, when comparing 36-hour periods, making this the biggest shopping event in Amazon history." Amazon said Prime members worldwide purchased more than 100 million products during this year's Prime Day event; small and midsized businesses selling on Amazon exceeded $1 billion in sales this Prime Day; a record number of Prime members shopped across17 countries; and Amazon welcomed more new Prime members on July 16 than any previous day in its history.