Amazon net sales up 44% on the year, joined by tech advancements

The retailer reported online sales up big for Q1 but brick-and-mortar sales were down. It also announced an expansion of some tech innovations such as a Whole Foods test of shoppers paying with a palm scan.
Dan Ochwat
Executive Editor
Dan Ochwat profile picture

Amazon continues to see sales surge as more shoppers buy online amid coronavirus concerns and as the retailer tests new tech such as a way to pay by the palm of the hand.

In its first quarter report ended March 31, Inc. saw net sales increase 44% to $108.5 billion compared with $75.5 billion Q1 2020. Operating income increased nearly $9 billion for the quarter and net income increased $8.1 billion. Operating cash flow increased 69% to $67.2 billion, compared with $39.7 billion a year ago.

Net online sales were up 44% for the year, although slightly lower compared with Q4 2020, factoring in some slowdown among an easing around pandemic restrictions and where it was seeing revenue record gains. Physical stores reported a 16% decline, year over year, however last month Amazon announced a robust private label brand with Aplenty that could bolster physical stores.

hand on technology

Amazon also made waves recently by announcing it would test its Amazon One Technology inside Whole Foods stores, giving shoppers a way to pay by placing the palm of their hand over a reader to be scanned for recognition and triggering payment through a linked credit card.

The palm tech began in the fall at Amazon’s cashier-free Amazon Go locations around its headquarters in Seattle, as well as in Amazon Go Grocery and Amazon Books locations. However, the tech will now be tested inside one Whole Foods in Seattle.

The retailer also expanded its in-garage grocery delivery service, a perk for Prime members to get groceries from Amazon Fresh stores or Whole Foods Market locations delivered into their garage. Prime members select the Key Delivery option, referring to the officially titled Key In-Garage Grocery Delivery service, and if they have the myQ app that syncs up with Key can get their groceries delivered that way. The retailer said customers who tried the service when testing loved it so it has been expanded to more than 5,000 cities in the United States.

In the Q1 report, Amazon said there are now more than 200 million paid Prime members and they’re also looking to improve shopping experiences through improved delivery. In the U.S., Same-Day Delivery can come as fast as five hours and is free on orders over $35 on over three million items in select cities. This is in addition to Free Same-Day Delivery on millions of items in thousands of cities and towns across 47 major U.S. metro areas, plus over 10 million items available for Free One-Day Delivery coast to coast. 

Amazon also continues to expand Amazon Scout, a fully electric autonomous delivery system, and introduced a “try before you buy” offering through its Prime Wardrobe platform, where customers can chat live with Amazon Stylists for personalized recommendations and trial items recommended by their favorite fashion influencers and websites.