5 facts about Amazon’s holiday season

Inside An Amazon.com Distribution Center On Cyber Monday
Photograph by David Paul Morris — Bloomberg/Getty Images

More than 10 million people tested out Amazon.com’s Prime membership for the first time this holiday season, according to the e-commerce behemoth.

While it remains to be seen how many of those limited-time members will remain paying users, it’s a strong indication of just how successful Amazon has been at infiltrating the holiday shopping season with its vast merchandise offerings and promises of speedy service. Prime promises unlimited free, two-day shipping on Prime-guaranteed items for $99 a year.

Amazon’s (AMZN) service speed has certainly accelerated. The last “Prime Now” order that was delivered in time for Christmas was placed at 10:24 p.m. Eastern Time on Christmas Eve and fulfilled just 42 minutes later (that ordered occurred in Manhattan). Last year, the last locally delivered express order was placed in the early afternoon on Dec. 24 and took over three hours to complete.

Amazon, which details a number of holiday season achievements that can be found here, makes it difficult to compare how the years stake up. While Amazon said more than 10 million people tried out the Prime membership service this year, in 2013 Amazon would only say that more than 1 million customers had tried out the offering during the third week of December. Amazon didn’t give a figure for the entire 2013 holiday season.

If Amazon can keep some of those customers on board in 2015, it’ll provide a greater bump to the company’s bottom line than in years past. Amazon raised its price for Prime earlier this year.

The holidays are a critical period for Amazon’s business. It generated a little more than a third of its $74.45 billion in sales for 2013 in the final three months of the year. A bulk of profits are also generated from October through December (last year’s fourth-quarter profit totaled $239 million, while Amazon only made $274 million for the entire year).
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Other metrics were easier to compare. Nearly 60% of Amazon.com shoppers used a mobile device this season, and Amazon said mobile shopping became more popular as the season progressed. In 2013, Amazon said “more than half” of customers used a mobile device.

Fortune has combed Amazon’s latest holiday report and has broken out five interesting tidbits.

‘Unbroken’ was a hit on Kindle

"Unbroken" is a hit on Amazon's Kindle.

"Unbroken" isn't just a potential smash Hollywood hit directed by Angelina Jolie. Like many movies, the film is based on a book, and that book, written by Laura Hillenbrand, was the most gifted Kindle book during the holiday season.

Bai5's speedy shipment

The last "Prime Now" order that was delivered in time for Christmas was placed at 10:24 p.m. on Christmas Eve in Manhattan and fulfilled just 42 minutes later. That order, according to Amazon, included 3 different 12-packs of Bai5, a five-calorie beverage that has been making waves in grocery store aisles. The order was delivered at 11:06 p.m.

Amazon becomes more mobile

Amazon said nearly 60% of its customers shopped using a mobile device this holiday, and Cyber Monday (the Monday after the Thanksgiving weekend) continues to be the peak mobile shopping day. On Cyber Monday, global customers ordered more than 18 toys per second from a mobile device. And total domestic holiday sales from the Amazon app for smartphones doubled in 2014.

'Frozen' hits it out of the park

Elsa (l) and her sister, Anna, from "Frozen"

'Frozen,' the popular Walt Disney animated film that has been making waves in the toy aisle, continues to dominate. It was featured on a handful of the website's holiday best sellers, including music (Frozen Karaoke), watches (Disney Kids' Frozen Anna and Elsa Digital Watch), and, of course, toys (Disney Frozen Sparkle Princess Elsa Doll). And Amazon sold enough Elsa dolls to reach the top of Cinderella's castle 855 times. But of course, you already knew this brand would be a hit.

Fashionable pumps stacked up

Amazon's fashion shoe sales really stacked up this year.

Amazon, which lists over 750,000 pumps on its website, really stocked up on shoes this holiday season. The company said that if every shoe from each pair of pumps sold to Amazon customers this holiday were stacked on top of each other, they would equal 52 times the height of the Empire State Building.

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