Prime Day dents sales at smaller retailers, local firm finds

Amazon’s Prime Day was a huge success this year for the e-commerce giant, but smaller retailers took a hit on the one-day sales event, Charleston-based Blue Acorn found.

Amazon’s Prime Day drove millions of sales for the e-commerce giant earlier this month, handing the company its biggest day ever. But the online retailer’s success appears to have dented results for its smaller competitors.

According to an analysis by Charleston-based Blue Acorn, which develops e-commerce websites, smaller merchants got fewer visitors, converted fewer sales and pulled in less revenue on the second-annual Prime Day.

Things seemed to go back to normal the next day, said Samantha Previte, Blue Acorn’s data scientist, but while Amazon dropped deal after deal July 12, other retailers seemed to be drowned out by its hype.

“Amazon is such a goliath retailer, and they’ve basically manufactured their own holiday,” Previte said. “It’s like they manufactured their own Black Friday, but it’s only for them.”

Blue Acorn looked at sales data from 22 of its clients, which sell a range of products from apparel and cosmetics to toys and technology, said Elliot Volkman, its digital marketing manager.

The company’s advice to online retailers: Be prepared to ride out a “macro event” like Prime Day, Previte said. And be ready to take advantage of Amazon’s stumbles, too: After Prime Day’s inaugural effort last year was widely seen as a flop, Blue Acorn found that its clients’ sales got a boost.

Two Lowcountry medical technology startups have received matching grants from the S.C. Research Authority after joining the agency’s SC Launch program.

Neuroene Therapeutics, a Charleston company working on a new epilepsy treatment, and Reify LLC, a Mount Pleasant 3D printing business that’s making parts for prosthetics, each received about $50,000.

Sherine Chan, chief operating officer of Neuroene, said her company is the result of research she’s been conducting with James Chou at the Medical University of South Carolina. The pair has identified a compound similar to Vitamin K that may be able to reduce seizures for some epilepsy patients. The compound has shown early promise on tests with fish and rats.

The SCRA funds match a grant from the National Institutes of Health, Chan said, and they’ll mostly be used to pay for the company’s first hire, its chief scientific officer. The company hopes to continue tweaking its compound and eventually conduct human clinical trials.

“From here on out, we feel very confident that we can get our company off the ground,” Chan said. “It takes a long time to develop a compound that’s actually going to go into humans. So it could be several years, but we’re confident that we can do it.”

Meantime, the 3D printing company Reify is focusing its efforts on prosthetics, making custom sockets — the part that fits around an amputee’s leg, said Barry Hand, president. The company plans to spin off the prosthetic business, which it’s calling Extremiti3D.

Hand said he hopes the company’s sockets will be commercially available early next year, and he plans to use the SCRA funding to conduct market research and keep developing its technology.

The company previously received a Small Business Innovation Research contract from the Department of Defense.

“We started looking into it and realized the need and started looking at the numbers and realized that we could really do a lot to help people and make a viable business out of it,” Hand said.

Entrepreneurs looking for a bit of money to get going will have a chance to make their pitch on Thursday at Palmetto Launch, which styles itself as an in-person crowdfunding event.

The event, which will be held at 6 p.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn in Mount Pleasant, will feature 10 entrepreneurs pitching to prospective investors and contributors.

Palmetto Launch is being organized by Michele Graham, who herself is looking to raise money so her company, Wholeful Pet, can produce cookie dough for dogs.

The application for entrepreneurs hoping to pitch has closed, but tickets to the event are still available for $5 at http://bit.ly/29Ykzcv.

Reach Thad Moore at 843-937-5703 or on Twitter @thadmoore.