Retail giant Amazon (AMZN  ) has had an eventful couple of weeks. From their landmark annual shopping event to developments in their hardware offerings, let's take a look at some of the moves the American company has been making.

Most notably, July 12 was Amazon's 2nd annual Prime Day. First featuring this event on July 15 of last year to commemorate the company's 20th birthday, Amazon promised to offer deals that rivaled those found on Black Friday. While last year's Prime Day was launched to promote the company's Prime membership, this year reached a much more established platform of loyal customers. As a result, the performance on Tuesday shattered that of last year's, tallying over 60% more sales globally than the inaugural day. In addition, more new Prime members signed up for the big sale day than on any other day in the company's 20-year history. Prime Day also saw 18% more orders placed worldwide than last year's Black Friday - the biggest ever - effectively outdoing all previous shopping events, Cyber Mondays included, and truly validating the company's goal of altering the landscape of online shopping. Suffice it to say that Amazon will be looking to replicate this year's success in many more annual sales to come.

Amazon has also brought themselves back into the smartphone market with 2 Prime Exclusive phones. The Blu Products Inc. R1 HD retails for a mere $50 unlocked, and the Moto G goes for $150. However, there is a catch: these low prices are subsidized by Amazon, which means consumers will have Amazon's apps, services, and ads all over the phones. Those that don't want to deal with these features can opt to pay back the $50 subsidy. As for quality, phones at this price point will certainly not compete with iPhones and premium Android flagships, but consumers looking for an affordable option that has all the necessities may be enticed to try out these Prime exclusives. It is worth noting that Amazon's previous smartphone experiment with their "Fire" venture did not go so well, eventually ending in a $170 million hit writing down unsold inventory. Keep an eye on how these two Prime phones end up doing in the market for an indication of Amazon's willingness to continue a line of smartphones that prioritizes the company's ads and services in exchange for price.

Finally, Amazon has refined "Alexa", their voice-controlled digital assistant, to be able to purchase "tens of millions" of products from the Amazon store. Alexa, which is built into Amazon's Wi-Fi capable Echo speaker and Fire TV set-top box, will be able to access all products eligible for Prime shipping. This is a big step up from the previous version of Alexa, which had only allowed users to reorder an already-purchased item, or buy products through "Amazon's Choice". Through this, the user could only request a product and accept whatever brand or type Amazon decided to add to their shopping cart. Alexa's expanded shopping skill set will certainly generate useful feedback and indications on consumer preferences moving forward.