Every Thanksgiving Thursday through Cyber Monday happen to be the five most shopped-on days every year, but this year it got even crazier. Amazon had a record-breaking weekend all around, with Cyber Monday turning out to be the biggest shopping day in the company's history.
Here are five of the most interesting takeaways from the world's largest shopping spree:
1. People really want to brighten up their homes.
And by "brighten them up," I mean make them smarter. The new Echo Dot was the top buy on Amazon worldwide, and other Echo devices were also among the bestsellers, both online and in Amazon pop-up stores. It wasn't just Echo, but smart devices, in general, that did exceptionally well, despite the fact that there are quite a few practical and ethical questions surrounding them.
2. People are really interested in their DNA.
Honestly, it's not surprising that the Echo Dot and other smart devices were so popular, but did anybody expect AncestryDNA: Genetic Testing Ethnicity to be Amazon's second-best seller? There's some reason to doubt the accuracy of popular DNA tests, though, so it remains to be seen if people will be happy with that particular purchase.
3. Alexa is actually useful.
If voice-activated digital assistants were all they're purported to be, surely we'd hear "OK, Google" out in public a lot more often than we do. That said, they're good for a lot more than party tricks, and Alexa proved it by helping home chefs around the world search for recipes, shop for ingredients, and set turkey timers.
Of course, we don't actually know how those turkeys turned out ...
4. Small business is big business.
Small Business Saturday drew more than 100 million shoppers to independent retailers this year, and record numbers were set in sales. Amazon reported that "sales by small and medium-size businesses worldwide grew more than 20 percent on Black Friday year-over-year." Actually, Amazon is partly responsible for small-business success, although it's unclear to what extent.
Notice a trend?
Some questions got answered, while others led to ... more questions.
Here's one thing we're not questioning:
5. Technology is changing the way we holiday.
Amazon isn't just a place to shop anymore. It's quickly becoming what Jeff Bezos set out to make it: a store for everything. It helps us shop for groceries, follow recipes, and take out the turkey on time. It's making same-day deliveries of items we may have overlooked -- often without any outside help.
When you consider that Amazon is just one cog in the giant machinery of techno-social advancement, you just have to hope that as things change, the spirit of the holidays can be the one thing that doesn't.