Prime Day took place from July 16 through 17, but Amazon stirred up tremendous interest hosting a series of “Unboxing Prime Day” promotions and activations over the five days leading up to the big sale to convince people to sign up for or renew Prime memberships, and perhaps join other services such as Amazon Music. That promotional blitz appears to have paid off well, with Amazon reporting that sales surpassed that of other major events including Cyber Monday, Black Friday and last year’s Prime Day.

Subscribers are especially important to Amazon, and CEO Jeff Bezos famously confessed that there is a direct connection between media content and shopping by stating, “When we win a Golden Globe, it helps us sell more shoes.” Prime members buy more from the online retailer than non-members do, mainly because they’re looking for ways to maximize their paid subscriptions after signing up to watch a movie or TV series.

Record Numbers Join Prime

The Prime Day promotional blitz seems to have paid off, making this year’s sale one of the most successful yet, despite some technical difficulties. Amazon reported that it reached a record number of Prime subscriptions across 17 countries. Australia, Singapore, the Netherlands and Luxembourg were first-time participants, and more members joined on July 16 than on any other day in the company’s history.

Live Events Lead To Shopping

Prime members around the world attended Unboxing events or watched them livestreamed. The final Unboxing event took place in London with attendees entering through a giant cardboard box tunnel lined with bubble wrap, and it was comprised of three experiences promoting the Prime Reading, Prime Video and Prime Music services. They included a special screening of Paddington 2, with a special appearance from Paddington himself; author Ant Middleton reading from his bestselling book First Man In: Leading from the Front and answering questions; and lastly, Amazon hosted a concert headlined by British band, Take That.

Prime members flocked to Whole Foods for its first-ever cross-promotion with Amazon, where they received millions in Prime Day discounts. The most popular item was organic strawberries.

Biggest Prime Day Brand: Amazon

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Amazon’s own brand turned out to be the biggest winner from the sales event, with the company reporting that the Fire TV Stick and Alexa Voice Remote were the bestselling products from any manufacturer in any category on Amazon globally. Other Amazon brands that sold well across various categories during Prime Day include AmazonBasics, Stone & Beam furniture, Daily Ritual womenswear and Presto! home supplies.

Additionally, Amazon reported that third-party small and medium-sized businesses on its platform exceeded $1 billion in sales during Prime Day. Simply Gum is quoted as saying that its sales rose by over 400 percent over any typical day. But they’re not the only ones who benefited from the big sale.

Rivals including Target, which ran a “no membership required” online sale on Tuesday, announced that it had the “highest single day of traffic and sales of 2018” on its website. The most popular one-day sale items were small appliances, beauty and personal care, baby gear, home and tech items.

“No Membership Required” Rivals Hit Back 

A Yahoo Finance poll shows that 55 percent of respondents plan to shop on Prime Day while 36 percent were unsure. Meanwhile, competing retailers are taking aim at Prime Day by hosting sales of their own.

Online outlet eBay launched its “Fill Your Cart With Color” campaign on Monday with two 15-second spots, and it is offering over 100 deals priced at $119—the cost of a Prime subscription. Additionally, will host a one-day sale on June 17, featuring discounts on dozens of products. Both retailers are emphasizing that there’s “no membership required” to take part in these sales.

Big Deliveries

Amazon began its massive global campaign in early July by delivering branded 25-foot cardboard boxes to New York, Los Angeles, London, Tokyo and Milan with special “surprises” inside of them. In reality, they’re lead-ins to Unboxing events that are revealed days ahead of time, each designed to promote some of the different services Amazon has to offer.

The first Unboxing event was a live concert in New York City featuring musical artists to promote the Amazon Music service. This two-hour performance was livestreamed on its main website and Twitch—which is also owned by Amazon—along with a few related Alexa commands. Another concert will take place in Milan, Italy on Friday.

Twitch is also a major partner for another Unboxing Prime Day event. The Twitch Prime service is giving away free games and add-ons every day between July 2 and 18, but the highlight of the promotion is the Los Angeles-based livestreaming event featuring popular online broadcasters. They and others will compete in Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds while musician and self-described gamer deadmau5 performs. Additional event sponsors include PC tech companies Ballistic, Crucial, Cooler Master, Nvidia and others.

Speaking with AList, Twitch’s EVP of commerce, developers and Twitch Prime Ethan Evans describes the event as a “thank you” to Prime members. He explained, “Unboxing Prime Day events are all about surprising and delighting our customers with unique experiences that go beyond the great deals that come with Prime Day.”

A Shimajiro-themed event is set to take place in Tokyo over the weekend, where the mascot of the Prime Video series will dance with Prime members and their children. The final event takes place in London to promote multiple Prime subscription services.

Taking Prime Day Offline

Although the main focus of Prime Day is on online purchasing, the sales event is also being promoted at physical stores. In addition to sales at Amazon Book Stores, Amazon is also promoting Prime Day through Whole Foods Market for the first time. The food store chain was purchased by Amazon last year, and it is offering $10 of credit to spend on Amazon during Prime Day with a single purchase of $10 or more. The deal coincides with AmazonFresh Grocery Delivery promotions.

The retail giant also has treasure trucks packed with discounted goods driving around 25 select cities across the United States. They carry various products including food, fashion, appliances and gadgets, and consumers are encouraged to track the trucks via mobile app and take advantage of buying opportunities for fear of missing out.

Prime Day VR Kiosks in India

In India, Amazon is promoting Prime Day using virtual reality kiosks located in 10 shopping malls across Bengaluru, Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata. Using Oculus Rift headsets and Touch controllers, shoppers are able to take a hot air balloon ride through a virtual city full of Prime Day products. Additionally, they can browse through virtual room furnished with Prime products, see how clothes look on them, check out Prime Video and more. Shoppers are also able to examine virtual products such as toys and appliances while pop-up windows provide details about each item.

The Power Anticipation And Social Engagement

“The mystique of Prime Day may add some allure, but the lack of definition certainly curtails some of the opportunity for consumers to have planned purchases. The anticipation effect can do more for sales than the mystique of when it is,” wrote NPD chief industry advisor Marshal Cohen in a blog post.

NPD analysts predict that Prime Day will continue to grow in size, which might mean greater spectacle to go with it to promote consumer engagement. These events and sales drive users to post on social media, which may, in turn, lead to more sales and brand promotions.

“Word of mouth, or in this case ‘word of online’ communication plays a huge role in Prime Day successes—when consumers say, ‘look what I got’, their social networks respond,” Cohen explained.